heroin treatment

New Approaches to Heroin Treatment

According to recent data, more than 9 million people worldwide struggle with heroin addiction. Even worse, about 5% of those who use prescription opioids eventually switch to heroin.

These are discouraging facts. However, it’s important to remember that professionals are developing new heroin treatments every day, and some of them already have high success rates.

Long-term heroin addiction can be life-threatening. Those who are addicted to heroin should enroll in a rehab facility, undergo heroin detox with professional help, and start addiction treatment. In fact, proper heroin treatment can mean the difference between life and death.

Here are a few new ways to overcome heroin addiction.

Deep Brain Stimulation

This method has been successful in animal models. As such, there are no valid reasons why it shouldn’t work on humans, too.

Deep brain stimulation involves stimulating the brain, particularly the subthalamic nucleus. This nucleus has a lens shape, and it rests under the thalamus.

Evidence suggests that the subthalamic nucleus plays a vital role in compulsive behaviors. The researchers at The Scripps Research Institute in California use advanced methods to influence this part of the brain to reduce heroin cravings. These methods can even eliminate addiction completely.

These scientists use high-frequency stimulation to influence the nucleus. It is possible to stimulate the brain in three different ways to achieve positive results:

  • Deep brain stimulation, aka DBS
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation, aka TMS
  • Transcranial direct current stimulation, aka TDCS

The DBS method is the only invasive method of the three. It involves placing electrodes in the brain to achieve an exceptional level of stimulation.

The other two methods (TMS and TDCS) are non-invasive. The researchers deliver the high-frequency stimulation through the scalp and skull. No electrodes are necessary for this purpose.

Some of these methods have been successful in treating compulsive disorders in patients with neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease. The researchers hope that these treatment methods might work on heroin addicts too.

The DBS Rat Study

A study performed on rats give scientists hope that DBS can be useful in treating heroin addiction in humans.

For example, the study involved 32 adult rats separated into two groups. The rats were self-administering heroin daily.

The self-administering method involves placing a lever into the cage of the rats. When the lever is pressed, heroin is made accessible, and the rats ingest it.

The first group self-administered heroin for a session of three hours each day. The second group self-administered heroin for twelve hours every day. As the scientists expected, the second group eventually increased the self-dosing of heroin.

Then, the heroin administration to these rats stopped for a few weeks. During this time of abstinence, one rat group received high-frequency stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus. The other group didn’t receive this treatment.

The self-dosing of heroin resumed after a few weeks. The first group (which received DBS) self-administered much less heroin in comparison with the other group. This means that high-frequency stimulation made a positive difference in heroin addiction.

Heroin Treatment Using Ibogaine

Another great treatment for heroin addiction is ibogaine.

Ibogaine is a hallucinogenic schedule I substance. It is illegal in the U.S. According to FDA, ibogaine has no medical application and it’s not safe for use. This substance is also banned in other countries such as France, Sweden, and Denmark.

However, recent evidence suggests that ibogaine might be suitable for treating heroin addiction.

A study performed by the Multidisciplinary Association on Psychedelic Studies revealed that ibogaine can help with heroin withdrawal symptoms. For example, nearly 90% of the study participants experienced a reduction in withdrawal symptoms. This is a huge improvement.

This may be part of the reason why many people go abroad to treat their heroin addiction with ibogaine. This substance is a one-time type of treatment, so you don’t have to take it regularly. Other substances used to treat heroin addiction such as methadone require periodic administration.

The Ibogaine Mice Study

A study performed on mice revealed that ibogaine can increase a certain protein in the brain known as GDNF. This protein is responsible for the development of substance addiction. In other words, if the brain makes more GDNF, it could prevent drug abuse and addiction development.

It’s important to note that ibogaine has also been associated with deaths among patients.

It’s crucial to regulate the administration of this substance to heroin addicts to prevent unfortunate events. For example, some of the patients who died as a result of taking ibogaine had pre-existing liver conditions. Such health conditions are contraindications to ibogaine and this might be the reason for their death. Having a thorough health checkup before using ibogaine is important.

It is also forbidden to take ibogaine if the patient has other types of opioids in his system as the combination of substances can cause death.

Contingency Management and CBT

CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) is not a new treatment option. However, it can provide new and better results when it’s combined with contingency management treatments.

Contingency management (CM) implies a reward system which helps addicts get rid of substance abuse. For example, patients can earn points when they receive a negative drug test. They can use these points to buy certain items which promote healthy living.

CBT focuses on improving the patient’s coping skills with daily stress. It is also used to reframe the addicts’ perspective on the future. CBT can be used to replace bad habits such as substance addiction with good ones such as exercising.

When CBT is used in combination with CM, it can render positive results. Many addicts were able to reduce heroin consumption thanks to CBT and CM treatments.

Which Heroin Treatment You Prefer?

Whether you look for a heroin treatment for you or someone you love, it’s important to pick the right one. Choosing an appropriate treatment method will ensure greater rates of success. Which one from this list rang your bell?

If you’re still unsure, check out the various treatment options for heroin addiction.

References

Americans going abroad for illegal heroin treatment. (2018, April 11). Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-43420999

Ciccone, T. G. (n.d.). Deep Brain Stimulation for Heroin Addiction: Possible New Treatment. Retrieved from https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com/treatments/addiction-medicine/opioid-use-disorder/deep-brain-stimulation-heroin-addiction-possible

Heroin Statistics – Facts About Heroin Addiction, Use & Death – Drug-Free World. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/heroin/international-statistics.html

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2019, January 22). Opioid Overdose Crisis. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis

heroin treatment and aftercare

What Does Aftercare Look Like for Heroin Treatment?

If you have recently undergone inpatient drug rehab, then you probably have a lot of questions. What will life be like now that my heroin treatment is over? Will returning home mean returning to bad habits? How can I make sure that I stay sober?

If you are struggling with any of these questions, then don’t worry; we’re here to help.

This article contains information about various heroin treatment options that can help you stay on track in the first few weeks, and months, of recovery.

Why is Aftercare Important for Heroin Treatment?

Aftercare takes place after detox and treatment. It can come in many forms, all of which are effective. However, the combination of methods that will help you stay sober depends entirely on your personal preferences.

In other words, aftercare, like rehab, is only truly effective if it is tailored to a patient’s recovery needs.

Different Aftercare Options

For those who have access to health insurance benefits, you can explore a variety of aftercare options offered through any rehab facility that accepts your plan.

If you don’t have access to health insurance benefits, that’s okay too. Many aftercare options are available for free to those that need them.

As long as you have the willingness to stay away from heroin, resources will always be available.

Outpatient Services

Outpatient treatment is a level of care that generally comes after inpatient care but before aftercare. However, some people in recovery view outpatient care as the stepping stone to aftercare and, eventually, long-term sobriety.

Unlike the other forms of addiction care, which focus solely on you, outpatient programs usually focus on group therapy. You, along with others in recovery, will work together in a group setting to share experiences, offer support, and receive insight from a professional counselor.

Sharing the struggles that you may be facing isn’t always something you may feel comfortable doing with people who are not in recovery— even if they are friends or family. After all, people who haven’t experienced drug addiction may not fully understand the difficulties of early sobriety.

Working with a group can help you in many ways. During your group sessions, you’ll work on processing your new world. This can include dealing with your past, making amends, and working the 12 steps.

Plus, counselors who lead group therapy sessions have experience helping patients through early recovery. Your counselor will help steer you and the group towards constructive interaction and provide available resources to those who may need additional help.

Narcotics Anonymous Meetings

Narcotics Anonymous is a free program available to anyone who wants to participate. Traditionally, there are two types of meetings: ‘open meetings’ and ‘closed meetings.’ 

Open meetings are available to anyone who wishes to attend. Even active heroin users are welcome to participate. According to NA.org:

An open meeting is an NA meeting that may be attended by anyone (e.g., judges, probation officers, professionals, family members) interested in how we have found recovery from the disease of addiction. Verbal participation, however, is limited to NA members only.

WORLD SERVICE BOARD OF TRUSTEES BULLETIN #15

Closed meetings, however, are open to anyone who is serious about getting or staying sober. The website specifies that:

A closed meeting in Narcotics Anonymous is for those individuals who identify themselves as addicts or for those who are uncertain and think they might have a drug problem. A closed Narcotics Anonymous meeting provides a freedom that is necessary for more personal and intimate sharing by Narcotics Anonymous members. It does so by providing an atmosphere in which addicts can feel more certain that those attending will be able to identify with them, and share their own experience, strength, and hope.

WORLD SERVICE BOARD OF TRUSTEES BULLETIN #15

Narcotics Anonymous Meetings are free and available across the U.S. If you’ve never been to a meeting before, then be prepared to learn just how many groups are active in your area.

Sponsors

Sponsorships are a large part of both of the aftercare options listed above. In fact, working with a sponsor is one of the best ways to ensure that you stay sober during the early stages of your recovery.

A sponsor is someone who is also in recovery that has completed the 12 steps. Working the steps with someone who has already conquered them will not only ensure your sobriety but also help you reestablish relationships and move forward in your new, sober life.

Selecting the Right Program for You

There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding which aftercare program to do during your recovery. For instance, the traveling distance to the program from home may sway your opinion of which program to choose.

If you attended an inpatient heroin rehab facility within reasonable commuting distance from your home, then it may make sense to do an outpatient or aftercare program at the same facility.

Choosing the same location where you first received treatment has a lot of benefits. You’ll be working with people you are familiar with, and you will be close to home.

Plus, if you enjoyed working with the counselors that helped you during your inpatient stay, returning for outpatient care and then aftercare would be a great opportunity to stay connected.

Alternatively, if you received inpatient treatment at a facility that is too far for you to commute to on a regular basis (e.g., if you attended inpatient rehab at an out-of-state facility), then be sure to look into local options.

You can always ask your rehab counselor to help you select the best aftercare option in your current location.

Any Additional Questions?

Now that you’ve learned about the various heroin treatment options available to you, it’s time to move forward. Giving up heroin use is no easy feat, but it is leaps and bounds better than the alternative.

If you have any more questions about heroin addiction or the different levels of care for heroin rehab, contact us to speak with an experienced counselor, or visit our website to learn more.

Opioid epidemic in America

What Do Opioids Do to Society? Heroin’s Societal Cost and What We Can Do to Help

Between the years 1999 and 2017, more than 700,000 people in the United States died from a drug overdose.

Of those 700,000 deaths, nearly 400,000 involved an opioid (either a prescription opioid or an illicit opioid like heroin).

You’ve probably heard people talking about the opioid epidemic over the last few years. What does that really mean, though? What do opioids do to society?

If you’re unsure of the dangers associated with opioids, keep reading.

Explained below are some important facts about heroin and other opioids, as well as the toll they’re taking on people all over the world.

What are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of drug. There are a number of drugs, both prescription and illicit, that fall under the opioid umbrella. Some of the most well-known opioids include:

  • Heroin
  • Fentanyl
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Codeine
  • Morphine

Many people begin consuming opioids to help them deal with pain. They may receive a prescription to help them manage chronic pain or acute pain after undergoing surgery or a serious injury.

Opioid drugs, even those that are prescribed by a doctor, are highly addictive. If a person can no longer access prescription opioids, they may turn to heroin in order to find relief.

What Do Opioids Do?

Opioids relieve pain by binding to opioid receptors.

Opioid receptors are present on the nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord. They’re also present in the gut and other areas of the body.

When opioids bind to opioid receptors, they block the pain signals sent to the brain.

In addition to relieving pain, opioids can bring on feelings of euphoria, especially when they’re taken in excess. They produce a variety of other effects, too, including the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Shallow breath rate
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Loss of consciousness

When they stop taking opioids suddenly, many people experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include shakiness, insomnia, anxiety, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

Effects of Opioids on Society

As you can see, opioid use and abuse can negatively affect people on an individual level. The opioid epidemic is also having some serious impacts on society as a whole.

Opioids and Relationships

Heroin and prescription opioid abuse can negatively impact a variety of relationships. It often affects marriages, friendships, and relationships between parents and children.

Someone who abuses opioids or uses heroin may have a hard time keeping up with their responsibilities.

They may neglect their loved ones and isolate themselves so they can continue using their drug of choice. They may also engage in behaviors that put their loved ones at risk.

Heroin and opioid use are also often associated with financial problems, domestic violence, and loss of custody, all of which create serious issues within families.

Opioids and Crime

Heroin use and opioid abuse can also lead to increases in violence and crime.

Research does not show that opioids make people more violent or prone to lawbreaking. It might exacerbate underlying issues, though, or create a strong sense of desperation and increase the likelihood that people will do things they normally wouldn’t.

Many people turn to crimes like violent robberies and theft to help them fund their addiction. There has also been an increase in gang violence in recent years related to drug cartels that are bringing heroin and other drugs into the United States.

Opioids and Illness

Long-term opioid abuse also increases the likelihood that someone will suffer from serious or chronic illnesses.

Chronic illness is already on the rise in the United States, and the opioid epidemic isn’t making things better.

Using heroin or other opioids long-term can increase one’s risk of dealing with respiratory issues or heart problems. People who use heroin are also at a higher risk of developing infectious diseases like hepatitis and HIV.

Because many people who abuse heroin do not have health insurance, the government ultimately becomes responsible for paying for their treatment.

Signs of Opioid Addiction

How do you know if someone is dealing with an opioid addiction? It’s not always easy to tell, but you might notice the following symptoms:

  • Problems with coordination
  • Frequent drowsiness
  • A shallow or slow breathing rate
  • Frequent nausea and/or vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Poor decision-making skills
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home or at work
  • Isolating themselves from family or friends
  • Slurred speech
  • Mood swings or agitation
  • Decreased motivation
  • Anxiety attacks

An individual who is addicted to opioids may also experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop consuming opioids.

Overcoming Opioid Addiction

To overcome opioid addiction, an individual must first acknowledge that they do, in fact, have an addiction. This can be very difficult to do.

The sooner someone can acknowledge that they have a problem, though, the sooner they can get help and begin recovering.

If you have a loved one who is struggling with opioid addiction, it can be helpful to sit down and talk to them one-on-one and express your concerns. If that doesn’t work, you may want to consider hosting an intervention.

An intervention involves sitting down with your loved one and a group of others who care for them and are concerned about their behavior. Everyone, then, can express their concern and let the person know how their behavior has affected them personally.

Addiction Recovery Options

There are many different treatment options for opioid addiction, including detox programs, inpatient residential treatment, and outpatient treatment.

It’s not ideal for someone to try and overcome opioid addiction on their own. It can even be dangerous because opioid withdrawal symptoms are so severe.

When they receive treatment from professionals, addicts can gain access to medication and other resources that will help minimize withdrawal symptoms and improve their chances of staying sober.

Get Help with Opioid Addiction Today

Do you have a friend or loved one who is showing signs of opioid addiction?

Now that you have a clearer answer to the question—”what do opioids do to society?”—if you see signs of opioid addiction, it’s important to encourage your loved one to seek help.

There are lots of resources out there designed to help those struggling with opioid addiction.

Contact us to learn about options near you or to get more information on the types of treatment available.

References

long-term effects of heroin use

Long-Term Effects of Heroin Addiction

It’s no secret that there’s a heroin epidemic in the United States. Heroin is made from morphine, which belongs to a class of drugs called opioids. Opioids are one of the most commonly abused drug classes, and heroin is steadily becoming more and more popular. 

Out of the 13.5 million people who take opioids, 9.2 million of them use heroin. Due to the highly addictive nature of heroin, many people find themselves quickly becoming dependent on it and realize they cannot stop themselves from using it. Their body begins to crave it more and more, and they find themselves in a seemingly inescapable cycle. 

How Does Heroin Addiction Happen? 

Heroin can be smoked, snorted, and injected into the veins. It acts on specific receptors within the brain that are responsible for the release of particular neurotransmitters, which are the natural brain chemicals that attach to these receptors and regulate certain functions such as pain, hormone release, and emotions. 

In particular, heroin acts on what is called the “reward center” of the brain which stimulates the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure. People report feeling a rush or surge of pleasure when they use heroin. They become obsessed with this high and constantly crave the feelings of euphoria that they first experienced. 

However, the more they use heroin, the less intense the effects get. So, they start to use a higher dose more often. You get the picture; addiction forms frighteningly quick.  

Your Body On Heroin 

Heroin has a depressing effect on the nervous system. Basically what this means is that it affects the major functions of the body such as heart rate and breathing by slowing them down significantly. Your mental state will be affected as well, causing you to feel drowsy and confused. 

When too much of this drug is taken, it can have potentially life-threatening effects. You can go into a coma or even stop breathing and die. Hundreds of overdoses from heroin happen on a daily basis because it’s so easy to accidentally take too much or to not know what else can be laced with it. 

While the short term effects can produce extreme feelings of euphoria and extreme feelings of dysphoria, there are long term effects that come with using this drug as well. When you use heroin repeatedly over a long period of time, it can change your mind and body in very negative ways. 

The physiological structure of your brain becomes altered in a nearly irreversible way. It messes with neuronal and hormonal systems in the brain and creates very harmful imbalances. Aside from effects within the brain, long-term use of heroin can result in many harmful effects on the whole body. 

How Heroin Impacts Your Health 

If you’re regularly injecting heroin into your veins with a needle, this can have very serious effects on your health. Frequent injections can be very harmful to your veins and blood vessels. They can rupture and even collapse from becoming very weak over time due to the constant injecting. Your veins have a very important job of pumping your blood throughout your system. They are very fragile and cannot handle a needle being poked through them multiple times each day.  

Another major effect of long-term heroin use is the high risk of developing a serious infection. Often when people are desperate for a high, the last thing they care about is if the needle they are using is even clean. Regular users may even share needles with other people. 

Unsanitary conditions are a major hazard when you’re injecting a drug into your body. This can result in various infections such as abscesses (which is when skin becomes swollen with pus), infections within the lining of the heart and it’s valves, and other serious bacterial infections. Sharing needles can also result in acquiring HIV, AIDS, and hepatitis. These are potentially life-threatening conditions that result when the blood of someone with those conditions becomes mixed with yours. 

Long-term heroin abuse can also affect your gastrointestinal tract. Opioids are known to frequently cause constipation. Chronic constipation may occur when you’re regularly using heroin, and this can lead to a variety of other problems as well. 

Your appetite may decrease and you may experience stomach discomforts such as pain and cramping.  With a poor appetite, you’re also at increased risk of becoming malnourished. Other organs that can be affected include the kidney and liver since they are responsible for filtering the substances you put in your body.  

A few other long-term effects of using heroin include damaged skin from scratching, sexual dysfunction, sleeping issues, worsening anxiety or depression, and much more. The most dangerous consequence of regular heroin use, however, is a physical dependency.

Dependency is a phenomenon that can occur much quicker than the user anticipates. As soon as this dependence forms, the user needs the drug in order to feel normal. Without it, they will feel very uncomfortable and sick if they don’t use it. 

Get Help Today 

If you’re struggling with heroin addiction, don’t waste any time to get help. Your very life depends on it, and your life is extremely important. Heroin addiction is becoming an increasingly worse problem in the U.S., and it’s easy to get sucked into its trap. Although it may provide you with temporary good feelings, this high never lasts and can quickly lead you into addiction. Don’t fall into the cycle of endless using. Get help instead.  

At Addiction Treatment Services, our team of highly qualified experts is dedicated to helping you get your life back on track. Our team is made up of medical professionals who care about you. You’ll also get to connect with others who are going through similar struggles. 

If you’re ready to begin your journey to recovery, contact us today by calling (855) 247-4046. Recovery is only a phone call or message away. There is a better life waiting for you on the other side, and it all starts with making the decision to reach out and seek treatment today

facts about heroin

Important Facts About Heroin That All Addicts Should Know

Are you worried a loved one is using heroin? About 948,000 Americans admitted to using heroin in 2016. Heroin overdose deaths increased by almost 20 percent between 2015 to 2016.

The scary part is these numbers keep rising. More and more young adults reported using heroin, which is the largest group to increase usage.

Heroin is one of the most widely abused opiates in the world, with 9.2 million using heroin worldwide. There’s a reason why it’s so addictive. Here are important facts about heroin.

What Is Heroin?

Heroin is a type of opioid. It is made from the seed pods of the opium poppy plants from Mexico, Colombia, and Southeast and Southwest Asia. Various forms of heroin include a black sticky substance or brown or white powder.

People either smoke, snort, inject, or sniff heroin. Sometimes they mix heroin with crack cocaine. Common names for heroin include smack, horse, big H, and hell dust.

Why Is Heroin So Addictive?

Heroin has long been known to be a very addictive drug. In fact, about one in four users that try heroin are addicted.

This is because it immediately affects the brain. It causes the brain to release “feel good” chemicals – both endorphins and dopamine. The brain recognizes the activation of these chemicals and begins to link them with heroin almost as a reward to the body.

In addition, the withdrawal symptoms of heroin are extremely uncomfortable, and it is hard for a user to stop on his or her own. The body also begins to require larger amounts of heroin to feel good, so users build up a tolerance. This tolerance causes certain areas of the brain to stop responding without the opioid receptor.

Getting Off Heroin Takes a Long Time

If you are addicted to heroin, it may take you a while to kick this addiction. You will experience withdrawal symptoms that can vary in intensity.

These withdrawal symptoms start around 6 to 12 hours after your last use. You will feel the peak of withdrawal symptoms around 1 to 3 days. They should subside gradually after about 5 to 7 days.

Some users have withdrawal symptoms for weeks or even months. Everyone is different, so it’s hard to say how difficult it will be for each person.

You will have to retrain your body to feel good again naturally. Some users have a hard time getting rid of the urge to take heroin even after they have gone through withdrawal.

Withdrawal Is Difficult

A person addicted to heroin will get withdrawal symptoms around 12 hours after the last time he or she used. Heroin withdrawal can be extremely difficult. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • High anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Intense cravings
  • Uncomfortable leg movements

Some withdrawal symptoms are so intense that users want to take heroin just to get rid of the uncomfortable symptoms and get relief. The user then goes through withdrawal all over again once he or she stops using heroin.

Cravings for heroin can last years after a person has stopped using the drug. These cravings can be triggered by bad memories, places, people, and extreme stress.

Extreme Itching Is a Side Effect of Heroin Use

After heroin enters the brain, the brain changes it to morphine that binds the receptors in the body. This also produces a strong rush and a warm flushing to the skin.

A little-known side effect of heroin use is extreme itchiness. Opiate drugs create histamines that the body uses during allergic reactions. These histamines make the skin itch, which makes users want to scratch.

This side effect means the drug is strong and not contaminated. A lot of users feel that their skin is “crawling” along with being itchy.

Mixing Heroin with Other Drugs Can Be Dangerous

A lot of heroin users take at least one other drug along with it, and some of these combinations can be pretty risky. Many heroin overdoses are from combining heroin with other drugs, most commonly sedatives and alcohol.

Drinking alcohol along with heroin increases the risk of overdose because it causes shallow breathing, lowered heart rate and blood pressure, and can put someone in a deep sedation.

Anxiety medicines such as Valium, Xanax, and Restoril are extremely risky to take with heroin. Both the opioids and these medications slow the rate of breathing, making it highly risky that you could stop breathing altogether.

Using heroin and cocaine together is also a very serious combination. Heroin depresses the nervous system while cocaine revives it. Both of these drugs cause breathing difficulties and can harm your heart.

Mixing opioids together such as hydrocodone, fentanyl, oxycodone, and morphine is dangerous because they intensify the side effects. They work the same as heroin does, so too much of these drugs can suppress the nervous system and heart rate to the point of cardiac arrest and death.

Drowsy-State After First Rush Is Risky

When a person uses heroin, he or she gets a sudden rush or a feeling of euphoria. After that state, the person then enters a phase where he or she alternates between being awake and extreme drowsiness for hours.

To imagine what it looks like, think about a student who is trying to stay awake and school and his or her head keeps nodding when sleepiness takes over. Eventually, the student will jerk awake to try to concentrate. That’s what heroin does to you.

Heroin is a sedative that causes a person to get sleepy but not fall into a deep sleep. This is the phase that most users enjoy because they feel so relaxed.

This can be dangerous because the body can go into a deep sedation. If the person becomes unconscious, he or she could sink into an overdose as the body’s breathing slows too much and may stop.

Babies Can Be Born Addicted to Heroin

Every 25 minutes a baby is born suffering from opioid withdrawal. The baby was exposed to the drug in the womb and becomes physically addicted, just like heroin users.

A baby can be addicted to any opiate including prescription drugs. When a pregnant woman takes opioids, the growing baby is exposed to this drug regularly. As soon as the baby is born, he or she suddenly does not get this drug anymore.

The baby is dependent on this drug and begins to go through withdrawal. These symptoms include fever, irritability, vomiting, slow weight gain, fever, and excessive crying. A newborn exhibits symptoms about 72 hours after being born.

Addicted babies need treatment. This involves putting the baby back on opiates and gradually reducing dosage to withdraw the newborn over time.

Other Side Effects of Heroin

The immediate side effects of heroin include dry mouth, heavy feeling in extremities, nausea, vomiting, severe itching, and a warm flush of the skin. The user will be drowsy for several hours. Other immediate symptoms include:

  • Clouded mental function
  • Slow heart rate
  • Reduced breathing rate

Reduced breathing can lead to brain damage and a coma. The drug effects the opioid receptors that control the body’s functions such as swallowing, breathing, heart beat, blood pressure, and consciousness.

Because the drug impairs these functions, there can be long-term problems such as:

  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Collapsed veins
  • Lung complications such as pneumonia
  • Abscesses
  • Heart infections
  • Digestive issues including cramping and constipation

Heroin can also clog blood vessels to main organs like the brain, kidneys, lungs, and liver. These clogs create permanent damage to these vital organs.

Prescription Opioids Can Lead to Heroin Use

Nearly 75 percent of Americans in treatment for heroin have stated they used prescription opioids before heroin. These prescription medications include Vicodin and OxyContin.

This is just one factor leading to heroin use. People switch to heroin because it is cheaper and easier to get than the prescription drugs.

Any Method of Using Heroin Is Addicting

There are different ways to use heroin including injecting, smoking, and snorting. Because all methods enter the brain quickly, all of these ways are addictive contrary to what users think. All three of these methods cause severe health problems.

Can You Overdose on Heroin?

In 2016, more than 15,500 people died from heroin overdose in the U.S. So, yes, a person can definitely overdose on heroin. An overdose happens when the person takes enough of the drug for a life-threatening reaction.

Once the breathing slows or stops, the brain does not get enough oxygen. This is called hypoxia. This can cause short- and long-term effects to the brain including brain damage or a coma.

Signs of an overdose include:

  • Blue tint to the person’s fingers and lips
  • Gasping for air
  • Shallow breathing
  • Extremely pale skin
  • Weak pulse
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Disorientation
  • Low blood pressure
  • Confused mental state
  • Spasms
  • Seizures

It’s important to call emergency personnel immediately if you see anyone with these symptoms. The person needs medication to reverse the effects of heroin to get breathing normally again.

How Do You Treat a Heroin Overdose?

Naloxone is given to a person immediately to treat the overdose. This medicine binds to the opioid receptors in the body to minimize the effects of the heroin. A person may need multiple doses to begin breathing again.

This is why a person suspected of an overdose needs immediate medical attention by a trained professional. These medications are available in different forms such as an injectable solution, a nasal spray, and a handheld auto injector.

Because of the increase in opioid overdose deaths in the past years, there is an increase for the public health sector to make naloxone more available to at-risk people and their families. First responders typically have these medications on hand. Some pharmacies dispense naloxone without prescriptions because of this need.

Other Facts About Heroin

It’s important to know that there is no typical heroin user. Most users are teenagers or young adults that come from upper to middle class families, which is not what a person may think of for a typical drug user.

Heroin’s purest form is white. Most heroin is black, brown, or gray because toxic ingredients are added. It’s hard to tell how pure heroin really is when it is not white.

Heroin used to be sold over the counter as a pain reliever in cough drops. People thought it was less addictive than morphine. The name heroin originated because doctors thought it had “heroic” qualities of a strong medicine.

Treatment of Heroin Addiction

There are a variety of treatment options for heroin users. These treatments typically include both medical and behavioral programs. These approaches help the brain to function normally without the drug.

Detoxing from the drug causes withdrawal symptoms that can be severe. This is why a person may need medical help for detoxification. The non-opioid medication helps reduce these withdrawal symptoms.

A person should not detox from heroin alone because it can be extremely dangerous. If a person is alone to detox, there is a good chance they may start using again to help relieve the withdrawal symptoms.

Behavioral treatments can be outpatient or in-home. This approach helps a person to learn to cope with life stressors and learn how to modify expectations. This is important to help a person stay on the road to recovery – if someone can not deal with these stressors correctly, a relapse could happen.

If you have a loved one that is addicted to heroin, you may want to stage an intervention. This lets the person know you care and can help them see there is a problem. It’s important to work with a professional and have a plan before starting an intervention.

Getting Help for Heroin Addiction

Now that you know the facts about heroin, it’s time to get the help you are a loved one need to kick this dangerous addiction. Getting yourself or a loved one help for addiction is an extremely difficult decision.

Don’t wait until your loved one’s addiction gets worse. Contact us today to discuss the best options to get your loved one treatment. We can discuss recovery options, detox, rehab, and even costs including insurance coverage.

heroin treatment

A Comprehensive Guide to the Treatments for Heroin Use Disorder

Heroin use generally remains low, but its popularity continues to grow as people addicted to prescription opioids look for a more readily available alternative. Since 2007, the number of people who say they’ve used heroin in the past year or the past month has risen steadily.

Because of its new ties to prescription opioids, heroin no longer discriminates. Men and women, rich and poor, and urban and rural users are all increasing.

Fortunately, heroin is not a new drug. It has hundreds of years of history, and its understanding among scientists and the medical community mean that heroin users have more treatment options than users of drugs like meth.

Still, heroin devastates individuals, families, and communities. It increases the risk of HIV/AIDS as well as hepatitis B and C. Overdose deaths also continue to grow, and the medical consequences of chronic use include bacterial infections, collapsed veins, and abscesses.

Heroin treatment is available for those who need and want it. It includes a combination of psychological and pharmaceutical therapies designed to target the chilling effects of heroin.

Keep reading to learn more about the types of heroin addiction treatment available to you or your loved ones.

Types of Heroin Addiction Treatment

Like many forms of addiction, heroin treatment includes a psychosocial element that provides counseling, therapy, and behavioral changes. However, heroin users may also receive access to pharmacological therapies.

The two are used in combination to serve as a withdrawal method and long-term treatment plan with the ultimate goal of preventing relapse.

Psychosocial Heroin Treatments

Psychosocial treatments are used at both stages of heroin treatment: detoxification and maintenance treatment for opioid dependence.

Studies show that when treatment providers combine both the psychosocial and pharmacological elements, they have more tools for helping users through the initial detoxification phase and preventing chronic relapse.

The four treatments most commonly studied are:

  • Contingency management
  • Community reinforcement
  • Psychotherapeutic counseling
  • Family therapy

Therapists use all four routinely in addiction treatment and the treatment of substance abuse.

Contingency Management

Contingency management (CM) is a behavioral therapy that offers rewards to encourage positive or desired behaviors. It may also use disciplinary actions to handle or prevent undesirable behavior.

Therapists use CM for substance abuse disorders and issues with impulsive behaviors.

The theory suggests that when you reward desirable behaviors, then the subject is more likely to not only continue the action but do so at an increased frequency and over a more extended period. The opposite is true of punished behaviors.

CM also uses a no reinforcement policy to ignore behaviors that aren’t undesirable but aren’t worthy of punishment. Those behaviors, too, should eventually disappear.

Why does CM work in heroin addiction treatment? It tackles the social, biological, and environmental indicators of abuse and gives the patient a tool to manage them.

Community Reinforcement

The Community Reinforcement Approach (CRA) is traditionally used among alcohol use disorders. Today, therapists use it to treat abuse and addiction across the spectrum.

CRA helps people rearrange their lives so that living without drugs looks and becomes more rewarding than a life using drugs and alcohol.

During the practice, therapists encourage patients to increasingly engage in enjoyable social activities away from substances. They also receive encouragement to work on their communities of family, friends, and co-workers.

CRA includes two branches including one for adolescents and one for families who want to encourage their loved ones into treatment.

Psychotherapeutic Counseling

A simpler term for psychotherapeutic counseling is talk therapy. Therapists use it across the board for everything from depression to severe mental illness to substance abuse.

The process allows the patient to build a therapeutic relationship with a psychologist. The psychologist, in turn, gets to know the patient and helps identify things like:

  • Comorbid disorders
  • Personality characteristics
  • Unhealthy coping mechanisms
  • Learning disabilities

Psychotherapeutic counseling may begin during the client’s detox phase. This form of counseling is often mandatory, and it does not differ significantly from psychotherapeutic uses in the wider population.

Facilities use psychotherapeutic counseling as a tool to help patients through the detox phase. Research finds that using it during the three-week period helps more patients enter a long-term treatment once their detox is complete.

The goal of talk therapy is to start to resolve some of the problems related to and underlying substance abuse. By approaching these problems, the patient will begin a path of understanding so that they can build both psychological and social tools for resilience. These tools then help them tackle the everyday challenges that come with heroin abuse.

Family Therapy

Family behavior therapy (FBT) is a vital part of treatment for many patients. It has shown to be useful for both adults and adolescents. Like psychotherapy, it aims to deal not only with the substance issue but with co-occurring problems.

FBT doesn’t require the entire extended family. Instead, it typically occurs with a cohabitating partner. For adolescents, FBT usually takes place with one or both parents.

The goal of FBT is to use two people in the behavioral contract for greater success.

For example, parents of an adolescent with a substance abuse disorder may learn goal setting skills that promote positive parenting. Then, the following session includes a review of the goals and the rewards

Pharmacological Heroin Treatments

Pharmacological treatment is the use of medication to help heroin and opioid users kick their habits as safely as possible.

The medication works to help users get through the first and one of the most painful phases of treatment: withdrawal.

Opiate Substitution Therapy

Because withdrawal can be dangerous, some organizations use opiate substitution therapy.

Opiate substitution therapy offers users an alternative to heroin in the form of a legally prescribed opioid taken in a supervised clinical setting. The two most common substitutes include methadone and buprenorphine.

Organizations may use the therapy for several reduces including reducing the risk of death from overdose and reducing illicit opiate use generally. An opiate substitution program may attract users who would otherwise avoid health services or interventions.

Using methadone or buprenorphine doesn’t mean that the patient won’t go through withdrawal. The symptoms of withdrawal largely remain the same, but they may be milder in severity. At the same time, methadone, in particular, takes longer to exit the body than heroin does so that withdrawal may take as long as six weeks.

What Is Heroin Withdrawal Like?

To grasp why both the psychosocial and pharmacological treatments work together so well, it’s essential to get to grips with heroin withdrawal.

Heroin withdrawal may or may not be the first step to recovery. Users may move from the withdrawal/detoxification phase into long-term recovery, or they may relapse.

Withdrawal is both a painful and sometimes fatal experience that requires regular monitoring and often medication. Opioid withdrawal syndrome acts like the flu in the sense that it feels severe to those suffering it but may be mild regarding a threat to life.

When a person goes through opioid withdrawal syndrome, they may experience symptoms like:

  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Dysphoria
  • Pupillary dilation
  • Piloerection

Two particular signs pose a problem for those going through this phase: vomiting and diarrhea.

These two symptoms work together to lead to dehydration when left untreated. They also contribute to hypernatremia, which is an elevated blood sodium level. The combination may result in heart failure, which then becomes fatal.

Opioid withdrawal deaths aren’t part and parcel with recovery. All these deaths are preventable when the patient has access to proper supervision and healthcare.

These deaths are preventable and needless, but the likelihood of death is still high. Because of this, those caring for opioid users who do not provide adequate care for the withdrawal phase may be seen to be violating their human rights.

Several people who passed away as a result of a preventable withdrawal death were at the center of court cases in the United States and Europe. Lawyers successfully argued that the facilities in charge of their care – typically jails and prisons – breached their duty of care in all such cases.

Drugs Used to Ease Withdrawal

Stopping opioid use in one fell swoop is no longer the recommended course of action. Instead, the method of tapering and substituting with drugs like methadone and buprenorphine is now a more common practice.

These drugs may be used to help calm the symptoms of withdrawal and kick the cravings that people experience during those time.

In this way, substitute therapy is often likely intertwined with detoxing and withdrawal.

You might find that a person going through opioid therapy may continue to use methadone or another prescribed drug over the long-term. Research shows that the best success occurs when patients take on plans that include both pharmacological interventions and psychosocial remedies.

Unfortunately, even though opioid users have more treatment options than other drugs, like methamphetamine, none of the current treatments cure addiction.

That’s why the psychosocial element is so crucial in withdrawal. Using substitutes helps the user move away from heroin. Counseling and therapy help them take control of their lives and build up tools and resources to eventually kick the alternative.

Treating a Heroin Overdose

A heroin overdose is a dangerous syndrome that can result in death. Heroin-related deaths grew by a scale of five between the years 2010 and 2016 alone. In 2016 alone, nearly 15,5000 people died from heroin-related overdoses.

Reversing a heroin overdose with medical help is possible. Emergency medical practitioners can provide Naloxone to help eliminate signs of intoxication and reverse the overdose.

Naloxone works to bind to opioid recepts, which prevents activation.

It is possible to use naloxone even if you are not a medical professional. The FDA approved a nasal spray in 2015 than anyone can use to stimy an overdose while you wait for medical help.

The same treatments are used in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities if a person is found to be suffering an overdose.

An overdose may lead to further treatment including detoxification and long-term therapy to overcome opioid addiction. However, not all those who survive an overdose make a choice to enter treatment.

Can I Compel Someone into Heroin Treatment?

Heroin use scares families, and it should. It is a dangerous drug with a high potential for abuse and a growing related-death rate. However, because it is so addictive, it is difficult for heroin abusers to seek help on their own.

Even in the case of an overdose, a person may find it physically more comfortable to go back to using than to go through the detoxification process.

The question many families ask is whether it is possible to force someone into treatment.

The legal answer to that question depends on your state of residence. Some states allow concerned families members to seek a court order to compel a person into rehab under certain conditions.

However, the most success comes from supporting a person’s decision to go on their own rather than forcibly admitting them.

Help Your Loved One Through Treatment

For many, the addiction to heroin is as much physiological as it is psychological and social. Many drug users find that they have environmental, behavioral, and psychological indicators that contribute to their drug use.

Engaging in your loved one’s treatment and supporting your role in it may be essential to the process in some cases.

As their spouse or parent, it may mean participating in therapy with them and creating a safe space that helps everyone focus on their ideal behaviors. It may also mean encouraging new hobbies and holding them accountable.

Although you play an active role in their recovery, remember that you need support, too. Make time for yourself and seek support groups to reach out to people in a similar situation.

Are you concerned about someone you love? Maybe it’s time to seek help. Contact us today to learn more about heroin treatment and recovery services.

how does heroin make you feel

How Does Heroin Make You Feel? Here’s Why Heroin Abuse is Common

There may be as many as 1.5 million chronic heroin users in the United States.

Unfortunately, statistics are a bit slim because of the nature of the drug. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), many people do not answer surveys about heroin or other drug use honestly, which makes it difficult to estimate just how many addicts there are.

If someone you love is addicted to heroin, you may wonder, “How does heroin make you feel?”

After all, it’s a valid question, especially after watching your loved one go back to it over and over.

In this article, we’ll go over some things someone addicted to heroin might feel when they ingest the drug, as well as why people continue to take it despite the consequences.

Read on to find out more.

What is Heroin?

Heroin is a common name for the drug diacetylmorphine. It is a derivative of morphine, a strong painkiller. You, or someone you know, may have been given morphine if you’ve had a particularly serious surgery or had a long-term painful recovery from a serious injury.

Morphine and heroin are both derived from the opium poppy plant. This is why some people use the name “Poppy” to describe heroin. In some cases, the name “Poppy” personifies a heroin addict’s addiction. Such language is also popular in the world of eating disorder recovery in which anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are personified as Ana and Mia. Someone addicted to crystal meth may also call their addiction “Crystal.”

Originally, heroin was produced on the mass market by Bayer starting in 1874. It was used as a cough suppressant and as a “safer” alternative to morphine. Although we tend to think of drug addiction as a byproduct of modern society, morphine addiction was a common social issue back then, too. Heroin was supposed to help morphine addicts wean from their addiction. Instead, it created a new addiction altogether.

In 1924, the United States deemed heroin illegal. It was then placed in the category of Schedule I. This means that it holds no medicinal value. It also means that there is a big risk that people will abuse the drug.

As it is one of the most addictive drugs ever made, the Schedule I class for it makes perfect sense.

How Does Someone Take Heroin?

There are many ways to ingest heroin. If you’re an addict or have a friend or family member who is, you’re likely already familiar with some of the ways.

Some people may chop it up and snort it, like cocaine. Others prefer to smoke it or insert it up their anus. Most hardcore addicts inject heroin into their veins intravenously. For some addicts, this is the quickest way to get the most intense high.

It is, however, also the most dangerous. Aside from the risks associated with ingesting the drug itself, there are many issues that arise from using needles in a non-clinical environment.

There is a high risk of AIDS and hepatitis amongst this group of heroin users. This is because they may reuse needles or share needles with friends. They may also not properly clean the area or not dispose of needles correctly, which can lead to accidents and further health complications

How Does Heroin Make You Feel?

This is a question many people who don’t take heroin want to know the answer to. As many see their loved ones return to the drug, again and again, they are curious as to the draw the drug has for that person.

Here are some of the things that heroin addicts feel when they take a hit:

A Dopamine High

Once you take a hit of heroin, dopamine fills your brain, which gives you an intense feeling of pleasure. This “hit” can make you feel confident, happy and produce positive thoughts feelings and sensations.

Many people take heroin in order to achieve that “first hit feeling.” A large chunk of people who take heroin do so in order to self-medicate and mask other issues in his or her life. If you’re constantly depressed, taking heroin will likely make you feel incredibly happy for a least a little while.

There are heroin users who describe this feeling as euphoric. This means they feel happy beyond measure or compare.

For some people, everything else negative about the drug is worth this feeling.

Relief from Pain

While most people who have chronic pain take opioids prescribed by their doctors, some people do get hooked on drugs like heroin. The drug can mask and numb physical pain you might feel from an injury or chronic illness, which makes getting off of it particularly difficult. When dealing with an addict who also has chronic pain, and takes heroin to cope, this can be fairly tricky.

Other people may take heroin as a way to “escape” or “not feel” if they are in situations that aren’t the most pleasant.

For instance, drug use can happen on battlefields where soldiers must risk their lives in the open fire. It can also occur when they have to deal with traumatic events day in and day out while near the battle zone.

Sex workers may also take heroin to help them cope with the reality of their situation. If they shoot up, they are less likely to feel disgusted with themselves or their situation. They’re also less likely to feel pain if a customer gets rough with them or the sex itself becomes painful.

In some cases, individuals who kidnap and traffic sex workers will get the women hooked on heroin purposely. This is to keep them numb and compliant. It also ensures that the woman is hooked on the drug, so she’ll always return to her pimp because he holds the “key” to getting her high.

Homeless individuals may also take heroin to cope with their circumstances. They may be constantly afraid of living on the streets. Ingesting heroin can make them feel as though things aren’t as bad as they seem.

Heroin can also help homeless people, sex workers and people in high anxiety situations feel calmer. This can allow them to sleep, even in places that would normally not be conducive to sleep. It can also allow homeless individuals, or people sleeping on the street, not feel cold and rest despite the harsh outdoor conditions.

As mentioned above, individuals with depression and anxiety may take heroin to mask their pain.

Adverse Effects of Heroin

For some people, the positive effects of heroin are worth any and all negative effects they have from the drug.

Some people, however, will not feel any positive effects and will only feel negative effects. These people may instantly feel nauseous, itch, experience dry mouth, and vomit after ingesting heroin.

Other people may not feel bad until they experience a “come down.” This can include the symptoms listed above as what some people feel instantly when ingesting heroin for the first time.

Before the person experiences a “come down,” some enter a state after the euphoria where they are simply just existing. They may nod off and wake up repeatedly. They may fall asleep entirely in almost any environment. They may also have a lower heart rate and low blood pressure.

Withdrawal

After repeated use of heroin, a person may experience withdrawal if they stop taking it. They will often continue to ingest the heroin in order to stop this unpleasant process from occurring.

If not done in a medically supervised environment, withdrawal can lead to death in severe cases.

Otherwise, individuals will experience muscle aches, dilated pupils, anxiety, sweating, diarrhea, insomnia as well as nausea and vomiting. Some people describe it as the worst stomach flu of their life.

This process can last for several days. It can be more comfortable if done in a medical environment, as the effects can be managed through medicinal intervention.

If the person takes heroin during the withdrawal process, it will cease and they will become addicted again.

Long-Term Effects of Heroin

Many people who become addicted to heroin remain so for many months or sometimes even years. They become addicted to that euphoric feeling that they get when they first get high and are always chasing it.

Taking heroin long-term can lead to AIDS or hepatitis, as mentioned above, from using dirty needles.

It can also lead to skin infections, heart problems, collapsed veins and kidney, and liver failure.

Most addicts have trouble sleeping and are at a higher risk of death than those not taking the drug.

Those who abuse heroin for too long without receiving help may ultimately die from their addiction. This can be through overdose or through other issues like their bodies no longer being able to handle the use of the drug.

Overdose

Overdose is a very scary and very real part of heroin addiction. Many people who overdose die, even those who have used for decades can overdose. Experience does not necessarily protect you from falling prey to an overdose.

Many heroin addicts think that they’ll be fine because they know the dose that works for them. This, however, can be a fatal mistake. Over time, they may develop more and more tolerance, which means they will need more and more heroin to catch that initial euphoric feeling.

Some heroin addicts will lose weight, which will mean their tolerance suddenly decreases when they think it has increased due to their drug activity. This can lead to an overdose.

Those who have been clean for a while and relapse are also susceptible to an overdose. This is because once you’re clean, your body’s tolerance for the drugs reduces dramatically. If you go back to your old dosage, you may accidentally overdose or kill yourself in the process of the relapse.

Additionally, heroin can be cut with a variety of other opioids or drugs. You may not know everything that has been mixed with the drug. The person who sells it to you may not even be aware either.

This is where things get very dangerous. Some heroin is mixed with fentanyl, a powerful opioid. You may take the same amount of heroin you usually take and accidentally overdose on fentanyl because you didn’t realize it was in the drug.

Heroin may be mixed with many other drugs or substances, and you can never be sure if you purchase it “on the street.” If you’re allergic to any of these substances, it can put your life at risk without you even knowing it.

Not knowing what you’ve ingested can make it even more difficult for the doctors to help revive you. If you were with friends who can tell the doctor you took heroin, but can’t tell them what it was cut with, this could turn out to be a fatal mistake for you.

Getting Treatment

Now that you’ve read this article and answered the question of, “How does heroin make you feel?”; you might understand your relative or loved one’s dependence on the drug a little bit better

While there’s no doubt that heroin has a certain allure to many individuals, and that withdrawal isn’t pretty, there is help. There is hope.

If you or a loved one are addicted to heroin, get in contact with us today. We can work with you to form a live-saving treatment plan and start the process of recovery immediately.

We can help you save your loved one’s life.

heroin addiction help

Heroin Addiction Help: Everything You Need to Know About Heroin

There is no doubt that we are facing an opioid crisis in modern America. From large, metropolitan cities to small, rural towns, we’re seeing this drug in epic proportions.

In 2016, approximately 20.1 million people over age 12 a substance use disorder. Of that figure, over a half a million individuals struggle with a heroin addiction.

Heroin is a highly dangerous and highly addictive drug. When used chronically, it can lead to a variety of severe consequences. Furthermore, it can be fatal- with just one use.

Let’s get into what you need to know about heroin and finding heroin addiction help.

What Is Heroin?

Heroin belongs to the class of drugs known as opioids. Opioids bind to the opioid receptors in the brain and body and are used medically to relieve pain.

Heroin is derived from morphine, which is a naturally existing substance from opium poppy plants.

Heroin has many street names that include black tar, hell dust, fire, smack, tar, east coast powder.

It can come in a brown or white powder or as a black and sticky substance.

Who Uses Heroin?

A recent study revealed that nearly 100,000 Americans reported using heroin in 2016. It’s a trend that has been steadily rising since 2007.

The typical heroin user may not look like your average, stereotypical “junkie.” While it’s true that 30-40 years ago, the average user was primarily an inner-city male from a minority group, that demographic has changed.

Many people actually progress to heroin use from prescribed painkillers. Prescription opioids, such as Percocet, Vicodin, or Oxycodone, can start the slippery slope to heroin use.

Some people receive these medications for an acute or chronic pain condition. Over time, they may develop an increased tolerance. They may start experiencing withdrawal symptoms if they run out of medication.

Some doctors will limit the number of refills they provide for their patients. However, if an individual becomes dependent on the medication, they may resort to drastic measures to obtain it. Because prescription medicine can cost significantly more, some will turn to heroin, as its often cheaper and more easily accessible.

How Is Heroin Taken?

Like most drugs, heroin can be used in a variety of ways.

It can be injected via a syringe directly into a vein or muscle. Sometimes, people will mix it with other substances, such as meth or cocaine, when using it intravenously. Users often start by injecting heroin into the arm, but the veins will collapse over time. People will then progress into injecting anywhere they can locate a vein.

Intravenous (IV) use is the most potent form of administration. The peak effect can occur within 5-10 seconds. Because of the risk of overdosing, IV use is also considered the most dangerous.

Heroin can also be smoked in a pipe or rolled into a cigarette or joint. Finally, in its powder form, it can be snorted.

What Are The Short-Term Effects of Heroin?

When heroin enters the brain, it converts into morphine. Users experience a “rush” of a pleasurable sensation. The intensity on this rush varies on the type of drug, the route of administration, and the individual user.

Other physical effects of heroin use include:

  • dry mouth
  • skin flushing
  • dry mouth
  • heavy feeling in the bodies

Some users will feel nauseated and may experience vomiting. After the primary effects start to decline, users typically remain sleepy and sedated for several years.

What Are The Long-Term Effects of Heroin?

When used long-term, repeated heroin use can change the physical structure of the brain. Some research suggests that heroin can deteriorate the brain’s white matter, which can impair decision-making and emotional regulation skills.

Long-term use of heroin can also lead to tolerance of the drug. This means you need to take more and more of it to achieve the desired effect.

Furthermore, you can experience physical dependence. This refers to the body adapting to the presence of the drug. It also refers to experiencing withdrawal symptoms when stopping use.

What Happens During a Heroin Overdose?

Overdosing on heroin can be fatal, and it requires immediate medical attention. The warning signs of an overdose include:

  • Bluish nails or lips
  • Depressed or stopped breathing
  • Gurgling or snoring sounds
  • Weak pulse
  • Pinpointed pupils
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Episodes of losing consciousness
  • Disoriented or delirious thinking
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Seizures or coma

One of the most substantial risks for heroin overdose comes with polysubstance use. Taking other substances, such as meth, cocaine, or alcohol, with heroin can increase the chance for medical consequences, such as overdose.

Today, many people unknowingly use heroin laced with other substances, such as fentanyl or carfentanil. Fentanyl is said to be 50-100 times more potent than heroin, and carfentanil is supposedly 100 times more powerful than fentanyl.

People relapsing on heroin after a sustained period of abstinence also face an increased risk for overdosing. This happens because many of them use the same amount of heroin they used in the past. However, because their tolerance has decreased, they face the risk of taking more than their body can handle.

If you are with someone who you suspect may be overdosing, it’s critical to call 911 as soon as possible. Many states with good samaritan laws will protect you legally if you call for medical support- even if you were using substances yourself.

Naloxone

Naloxone is an FDA-approved opioid antagonist. It can block and reverse the effects of opioids. Naloxone administration can restore the overdosing individual’s breathing and save his or her life.

Naloxone comes in the form of an autoinjection or prepackaged nasal spray (known as Narcan).

It’s a prescription drug, but you can purchase it in most pharmacies and drug stores throughout the United States.

What Is Heroin Addiction?

Chronic, progressive use of heroin can lead to addiction. There are many different signs associated with addiction.

Physical & Medical Factors

Heroin addiction can dramatically impact a person’s physical health. The user may stop prioritizing grooming and hygiene. They may present as disheveled or distressed. They may look gaunt or emaciated due to not eating.

Sometimes, people using heroin share needles and run the risk of developing serious medical conditions like HIV or Hepatitis C.

Emotional & Psychological Factors

The desire to use, obtain, or conceal a heroin habit can lead people to neglect other areas in their lives. Heroin users often find it hard to hold down a job or perform well in school. They may withdraw from their social relationships and spend most of their time isolating.

It’s also common to feel very depressed, anxious, irritable, and even suicidal. Because many people struggling with drug addiction also struggle with co-occurring mental illness, drug use can exacerbate other symptoms.

On a psychological level, many drug users want to quit or cut down on their habit. Unfortunately, the intense cravings, tolerance, and fear of withdrawal make it feel impossible to do so. For this reason, many people feel alone, ashamed, and humiliated over their addiction.

Financial Factors

People struggling with a heroin addiction may steal money or items to fund their habit. They may not be able to pay their bills because they need money for more drugs. They may engage in concerning behaviors, such as prostitution or panhandling, to acquire money.

In some cases, heroin addiction can cause people to lose their jobs, homes, and savings accounts. Many unassuming people end up in serious financial problems due to the progressive nature of their use.

Why Seek Heroin Addiction Help?

Getting sober on your own can be incredibly challenging. For some, it is impossible. Many people have tried quitting on their own many times before reaching out for professional help.

Professional heroin addiction treatment provides a safe and structured environment needed to achieve and sustain long-term recovery. In this setting, you’ll receive education, life skills, and coping tools.

Professional treatment also provides wraparound care for other, extraneous issues including support for legal issues, medical treatment, family problems, and even financial stressors.

Types of Addiction Treatment

There are numerous types of treatment options available to those seeking support for their heroin addiction.

Detox

Within 6-12 hours after the last heroin dose, most individuals start experiencing withdrawal symptoms. You can expect that these symptoms can peak within the first 1-3 days, and they will begin dissipating within 5-7 days.

Detox provides 24-hour psychiatric and medical monitoring and evaluation. It’s usually known as the ‘first step’ of treatment. Detox helps flush the toxins associated with harmful substances, and it helps provide stabilization for intoxicated individuals.

Some detox facilities provide opioid detox medications to relieve the distressing, physical symptoms.

It should be noted that detox alone is not considered treatment. It’s merely the first step towards stabilization and health.

Inpatient Residential Treatment

Inpatient residential treatment provides 24/7 monitoring, structure, and support for newly sober individuals.

Treatment will you in learning:

  • stress management
  • healthy communication skills
  • relapse prevention tips
  • self-esteem and self-worth
  • life management skills
  • parenting and relationship techniques
  • management for occupational or financial problems

In this level of treatment, individuals are separated from their homes and live with their fellow patients full-time. This provides you the opportunity to surround yourself with people who understand addiction. It also provides you with the chance to focus exclusively on your recovery- free from external distractions.

Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Treatment

Partial hospitalization (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) treatment provide structured treatment for several hours each day.

Unlike inpatient care, patients do not live at the facility, and they do not receive 24/7 supervision. Instead, many of them commute to and from the center, often while working or attending school.

Some individuals transition into these levels of care after completing a detox and inpatient residential program. Others enter these programs if they do not need medically supervised detox or if they are not fit for a higher level of care.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment provides patients access to treatment and care in a non-residential setting.

Again, many of these patients have already completed intensive programs, and this is simply a step down from their higher level of care.

Outpatient treatment still provides people with support, counseling, and supervision during this transition back into the real world. This sense of accountability can help individuals feel empowered and ‘on track’ with staying sober.

What Happens After Treatment?

Even after completing a treatment program, the recovery process is never totally finished.

Instead, most people choose to adopt the philosophy that they are “in recovery.” In other words, they are continually working, growing, and learning within their recovery. The work never stops.

Well-qualified treatment centers work to provide wraparound care for their patients. Together, with your treatment team, you will collaborate on an appropriate plan for your success.

Some people stay connected with their sobriety by attending 12-Step meetings. From Alcoholics Anonymous to Narcotics Anonymous to Heroin Anonymous, there is no shortage of free meetings available virtually anywhere in the world.

Other people continue with individual, family, couple, or group therapies. Having professional support can help you as you reintegrate back into society and face stress.

Many individuals have to change parts of their lives to stay sober. You may have to reevaluate old friendships, jobs, or even living environments that are reminiscent of using.

Final Thoughts

Heroin addiction can be devastating for you and anyone you love. Even though it may feel hopeless, relief and recovery are possible. They require dedication and persistence and a willingness to try something different.

Locating the best heroin addiction help can be a challenge. At Addiction Treatment Services, we know how difficult taking that first step towards change can be.

Whether you or a loved one is struggling, we’re here to help with support and guidance. Contact us today to speak to one of our intervention specialists.