Choosing recovery

Woman seeking heroin recovery information

Recovery means different things to different people, and everybody’s recovery is different.

For us, recovery is about being back in control of your own life. It’s about being able to make choices about how you live and what you do: just feeling “like yourself” again. Whether you do that by accessing treatment options that help you live a meaningful, satisfying life, managing your own substance use, or whether for you it’s about coming off drugs altogether, recovery is personal. You can discover the personal Stories of survival of people who have been through similar experiences to you and get their insights into recovery.

Many drug-dependent people’s first attempt to stop using heroin is on their own and without any treatment. For some people this can work out ok, but for many it’s really hard and they often relapse.

If you want treatment, the first decision that you need to make is about the type of treatment that is best suited to your current needs. Often people will mix and match different types of treatment – including medication, talking treatments, rehabilitation and even complementary therapies like acupuncture. Treatment is available through the NHS, however, treatment access does depend on where you live.

There is no right choice for everyone; your treatment path may be different to other people's and you can always change your mind at any point. Indeed, your needs may change with time and different treatments may become more appropriate for you. Research tells us that most people try several different routes through treatment during their personal journey; choosing one option, transitioning to another, sometimes leaving treatment and returning. Starting your recovery journey will be life-changing – but also hard work. It will help you gain control back over your life, take ownership of your future, be healthier and more employable. But it can also be a really big change – you’re sometimes leaving behind aspects of your life that are familiar and comforting. This might sound daunting, but keeping a few simple things in mind will help you get the most out of your treatment.

Not the right time?
You may feel that treatment is not right for you right now; nevertheless, it is worth knowing what your options would be if you did decide to go into treatment. It is also important to remember that treatment cuts the death risks associated with continued drug use and can boost mental health, physical health and quality of life.

Treating HIV and HCV
If you have previously injected your drugs, it is possible that you may have been infected with hepatitis C (HCV) or HIV. It is very important that you discuss this with your doctor, who can help you find out if you have any infection and provide you with treatment. There is no reason why you cannot be treated for this as well as your opioid dependence. If left untreated, both HCV and/or HIV can have very serious consequences and place further risks to your health. So if you are not ready to get treatment for your heroin dependence, it is still worth considering getting checked and treated for these. More information can be found in the FAQs.

There are a few simple ways you can reduce your risk of getting HCV or HIV.

  • Get clean needles from needle exchanges
  • Don’t share needles with your friends
  • Practice safe sex