How I came off heroin

Addiction can be debilitating, but there is always hope. Nicola*, 25, tells us how she got her life back on track after becoming addicted to heroin

True Stories

A young woman is standing outside, looking concerned. She is wearing a pink top. She is thinking about her previous heroin addiction. This is a close-up image.

I became addicted to heroin when I was 17. It all started when I discovered that my boyfriend was a user when I found needles in his pockets. I was mad at him for a bit, but I didn’t want us to split up because I thought I loved him.

I just wanted to try it 

Since nothing bad had happened to my boyfriend on heroin, I started to think it wasn’t that dangerous. So, I asked him a couple of times if I could try it, but he always said no. I found a way around this. One night, when he was really high, I asked him again and he gave me a hit. It made me really sick but I liked the high, so I kept taking hits. Within two months I developed a habit.

To pay for my addiction I sold furniture, jewellery and anything else that would bring in some extra cash. It got so bad that I even worked as a prostitute for three months. I’d come home every night and cry in the bath, scrubbing myself till I bled.

One day my leg became sore after shooting up in my groin. I went to the hospital and was told that I had a blood clot. My nan was really worried and asked me to live with her so she could look after me – I didn’t want to disappoint her so I agreed. The doctors prescribed me dihydrocodeine to help wean me off heroin. I was offered methadone, the stronger drug, but refused it. It was a lot harder to stay clean with dihydrocodeine, but I managed with the help of my nan.

Ending up in hospital was a wake-up call 

I owe my life to her because I don’t think I could have gone through my recovery without her support. Sadly, she passed away last year due to cancer, but I will always remember what she did for me. I used to tell her how much I appreciated her help and she’d say, “Nicola, you did it on your own, I just gave you a little push”.

Eight months after I came off drugs I went back to hospital with a sore chest. I was horrified when the doctors told me I had bacteria in my heart valve, kidney failure, blood poisoning and blood clots in my lungs and legs.

My health deteriorated very quickly. Technically, I died three times in intensive care and had to stay in hospital for three-and-a-half months. I eventually recovered, but am still suffering. I regularly get pains in my chest, which the doctors tell me will never go away. Apparently, my body was so reliant on heroin that even when I stopped using it continued to rot away my insides.

I’m still in recovery, but life is so much better

My life has completely changed since I came off heroin. I’ve got a new boyfriend – who’s never touched heroin – and we’re really happy. We have a two-year-old daughter and are planning on getting married soon. My boyfriend has a good job and I’ve recently started working as an administrator after getting qualified. Honestly, my family is how I came off heroin.

Don’t get me wrong – it hasn’t been a bed of roses. Throughout my recovery food has been a big comfort to me, so I’ve put on a lot of weight. I’m now very self-conscious about my appearance, so don’t go out much – I worry about people judging me. I know I have to do something about it so I’m trying to lose a few pounds; my family is my comfort now, not junk food.

It’s been a slow and painful process but I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved so far. I went off the rails for a while, but I’m happy to say that I’ve nearly got myself together. In a few months I’m hoping to come off dihydrocodeine and then I’ll be completely drugs free. 

*Name has been changed.

 A message from The Mix 

If you, or anyone you know is struggling with substance use challenges, don’t hesitate to contact us on our free, 24/7 support service. There are also some amazing charities who specialise in drug addiction. These include the Amy Winehouse Foundation as well as FRANK. They provide non-judgemental support as well as expert advice on the topic. 

Please know that you are not alone, there are so many people out there routing for you, us included. 


Next Steps

  • FRANK offers friendly, confidential advice on all things drugs-related. Call now on 0300 123 6600
  • Addaction helps people recover from drug and alcohol addictions.
  • Release offers free and confidential advice on everything to do with drugs and drugs law. 0845 4500 215
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.



By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 19-Aug-2021