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Written by Amethyst Recovery

Amethyst Recovery is a foremost authority on addiction and a trusted online source of substance abuse information. Their expert team of addiction professionals provide well researched content for people in the grip of addiction. All posts are fact checked and sourced.

Intro to Heroin

Heroin is a devastating street drug that been at the forefront of recent news reports. Opioid overdoses numbers are climbing as the National Institute on Health Care Management attributed “4.6 deaths per hour” to opioid related overdose deaths.

Heroin is an extremely addictive drug with heightened risk factors thanks to its low cost and high accessibility. People using heroin are at dramatic risk of addiction, long-term health afflictions related to both the consumption of the drug and sharing needles, as well as a heroin overdose.

Heroin is a white or brownish powder that is typically mixed with water and then injected directly into the user’s veins providing an instant high described as warm euphoria, followed by a slowing down of the body’s natural processes.

The heroin crisis is right in front of us, and the best way to help counter this epidemic is through widespread access to both information and treatment programs. Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions related to heroin abuse and treatment can be found below.

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Heroin Treatment Options

There are several options when it comes to treating heroin addiction. Rehab centers offer either inpatient or outpatient treatment plans and provide the appropriate medical supervision, therapeutic techniques, and group support.

Treatment approaches for heroin addiction are categorized into two different categories. Inpatient requires the patient to reside in the facility for the entire length of time needed. Outpatient treatment programs allow a patient to continue living at home while receiving treatment for their drug use and addiction.

When beginning addiction treatment for heroin abuse, the initial detox is a critical step in the process. Heroin has particularly intense withdrawal symptoms that can cause extreme discomfort in patients.

The symptoms vary in intensity and can be both physical and mental including:

  • Nausea
  • Aches & Pains
  • Dehydration
  • Insomnia
  • Mood Swings

It is always recommended to have some sort of medical supervision when going through an opioid withdrawal to help oversee the process, and utilize medications to mitigate the withdrawal symptoms as needed.

Those who are heroin dependent and attempting to get off the drug are commonly prescribed FDA approved medications to help mitigate the effects of heroin withdrawal symptoms. The pain relief prevents users from retreating to heroin use to escape the cravings and discomfort.

Medication-assisted treatments in conjunction with therapeutic techniques are an ideal combination to provide the highest chance of success and relapse prevention.

“MAT Increases social functioning and retention in treatment4,5 Patients
treated with medication were more likely to remain in therapy compared to
patients receiving treatment that did not include medication.” (www.drugabuse.gov)

Once through the initial detox, medication can help support recovering addicts in maintaining their commitment to the behavioral therapy, and other effective treatment techniques during the course of the addiction treatment.

Heroin Effects

Heroin is one of the most commonly abused drugs because it eliminates worries and anxiety, and provides users with a rush of euphoria and an overall good feeling.

In the short term, it can also cause effects such itching, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, and an overall slowing down of the body’s heart rate and breathing.

It’s not uncommon for users to doze off shortly after injecting the drug.

Once injected, heroin finds and latches on to the opioid receptors in your brain and triggers feelings of happiness and pleasure. People using heroin most often have a history of substance abuse with other illicit drugs such as prescription opioids.

Drug abuse and mental health go hand in hand. Heroin treatment centers often emphasize techniques such as behavioral therapy, because mental disorders are commonly diagnosed alongside drug abuse and addiction.

In the long-term heroin users will find that tolerance gets built up quickly, and the dosage required to achieve a similar high will begin to rise dramatically. High tolerance is a significant factor in incidents of overdose because of the inconsistent potency of street heroin.

Other long-term effects include collapsed veins and high risk for HIV and hepatitis thanks to the frequent injections. Lung diseases, infections, and skin infections are also common long-term effects.

The National Institutes on Drug Abuse has found that over time there can be “loss of the brain’s white matter associated with heroin use” and this loss can impact the cognitive functions of the brain including “decision-making, behavior control, and responses to stressful situations.” (www.drugabuse.gov)

Addiction to heroin is a path that ultimately leads to death. If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction, please call us today to discuss how we can support you in receiving treatment.

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Signs of Heroin Addiction

Heroin, as with many other addictive substances, carries a list of physical and personality-related warning signs that could indicate a loved one is dealing with drug abuse.

These can include blowing off commitments or being seemingly uninterested in hobbies or activities that used to be a regular part of their life. Those addicted are often in need of money for strange reasons and will ask to borrow cash ultimately used to buy drugs.

Sudden weight loss can be another sign that someone you love may be addicted to drugs. For heroin, in particular, it may just seem as though the user is sleepy all the time. Eventually, they will be high more often than sober, and with that comes constant drowsiness associated with the slowing down of body functions.

Many users, “as many as 75% had mental health issues” as well. So if a loved one has a history of depression, bipolar disorder, or other mental health issues they could be at a higher risk for drug addiction.

If you notice any of these warning signs, please do not hesitate to encourage them to get addiction treatment for their drug abuse.

Heroin overdoses are a deadly externality suffered among people using heroin. Understanding the different treatment approaches may help you persuade a loved one that abuse treatment can save their life.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Heroin is known to have some of the worst withdrawal symptoms because of the extreme tolerance that builds up quickly for frequent users, so the dose of heroin needed to achieve the same level of intoxication continues to increase.

The tolerance built up in heroin users can directly attribute to a heroin overdose. If a relapse does occur post-treatment recovering addicts will often use the dose of heroin they were accustomed to before receiving treatment.

Because heroin is an injection drug, the heavy dose immediately enters the bloodstream, is often fatal, and leads to another opioid overdose in today’s ongoing heroin crisis. ea

The withdrawal symptoms express the body’s intense cravings for the drug once the patient halts use.

Aches and pains, nausea, dry mouth, depression, insomnia, dehydration, loss of appetite, excessive hunger, and sweating are all frequently reported symptoms from recovering addicts going through withdrawal.

There is an emotional and mental aspect to withdrawals that can cause just as much discomfort as any physical symptom. Users can often feel lethargic, bored with life, and a complete lack of motivation that crushes the hope and positivity that should be associated with quitting heroin and pursuing recovery.

If you or a loved one is planning on attempting to overcome heroin addiction, having the support and supervision of a treatment facility will not only better your shot at success, but provide a safer and more comfortable road to recovery.

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