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 withdrawal symptoms

All About the Heroin Comedown: Withdrawal Symptoms to Recognize

The DEA released a 164-page report on the opioid crisis in 2018 that indicated that prescription drugs and heroin, in particular, were responsible for the most drug-related deaths since 2001 reports USA Today. But at the same time, data contributed to that report by the CDC noted that the years 2017 and 2018 were starting to see a decline in numbers of heroin-related deaths. It’s likely that is due to the fact that more and more people are getting help for their heroin and opioid addiction. Avoid becoming part of the grisly side of those statistics, by learning everything you need to know about the heroin comedown and heroin addiction recovery.

Just because the number of heroin-related deaths may be declining, that doesn’t mean that heroin is no longer a problem. We know that heroin is a quick acting drug, a fast-acting addiction, and a problem with a very long recovery period. that is the opioid crisis.

The Opioid Crisis

The term opioid crisis is on the news almost every single day, and the drug heroin is a very big part of that problem. Today heroin is being mixed with a number of other drugs as well, such as fentanyl. This is contributing to the opioid crisis and leading to more heroin-related overdoses.

While heroin-deaths may be on the decline, heroin issues are still showing up in today’s emergency rooms every single day. The CDC reports that in 2016, nearly 948 thousand Americans admitted to using heroin, which is approximately 0.4 heroin users per 100 Americans.

In the year 2015, 81,326 emergency department visits occurred for poisonings related to heroin. That’s 222 visits a day due to heroin in emergency rooms across the country.

While deaths may be declining, heroin poisoning is still a very big problem.
What happens after those emergency room visits? The heroin comedown.

Heroin addiction is a multi-pronged problem and a large component of the opioid crisis. Addiction happens in one minute, but the recovery is a prolonged process that begins with the heroin comedown.

The heroin comedown and the withdrawal symptoms associated with that may be difficult to recognize.

Why is Heroin so Addictive?

Heroin is so addictive because of its properties and its chemical makeup, and because of the effects on the body that those properties create.

Most people of adult age have heard of the word “heroin.” But many don’t know how complex the heroin problem is. It’s a complex drug that launches a complex and multi-billion-dollar problem in the United States.

The drug is an opioid that is made from the medication known as morphine. Morphine is a drug that comes from the pods of poppy plants.

Those pods from the poppy seeds are then used to create heroin. It’s a powder substance that can be white, brown or black.

It’s sometimes seen as a black sticky substance that is tar-like. It can be known by a number of names such as smack, hell dust, big H, or horse, among many other names.

Because it is an opioid, it creates an almost instant-like pleasure inducing experience in the brain. It reaches the brain rapidly once it is consumed, and binds to receptors in the brain that create instant pleasure.

This “high” is what heroin users are chasing. The pleasure centers in the brain activate a dopamine surge, and it’s almost an instant addiction.

The manner in which the brain absorbs the drug is why it is so addictive. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that heroin use is more common than prescription opioid use in recent years, due to the fact that it is lower in cost and easier to obtain.

That and the manner in why heroin is so addictive is why heroin is such a big part of the opioid crisis. Understanding the risk factors and the heroin comedown is the biggest component in recovery and coming out the other side.

Risk Factors for Heroin Addiction

The CDC reports that prescription drug use is the strongest factor that leads to heroin use, but there are other risk factors. Widespread exposure to prescription opioids is leading to widespread exposure to heroin, once prescription drug users leave that drug of choice to chase a more affordable high.

The CDC reports that nine out of 10 Americans that used heroin in 2013 had a history with prescription drugs, or had at least been treated with one other medication.

Prescription drugs such as Oxycontin and Vicodin are among the medications that are reported to be the most dangerous gateway drugs to heroin. These medications are similar to heroin in their pleasure inducing effects.
Prescription opioids are a significant risk factor for heroin addiction.

The CDC notes that further risk factors are people between the ages of 18 and 25, white, live in urban centers, and making less than $20,000 a year. People addicted to alcohol, marijuana, or cocaine, are also exposing themselves to the risk factors for heroin addiction.

The Mayo Clinic also notes other risk factors. Those include a family history of addiction, mental health problems, peer pressure, disassociation with family, or a history of injecting other drugs.

Those who consume drugs at an early age are also exposing themselves to the risks associated with the gateway to heroin addiction. There are many risk factors that lead to this addiction, and these risk factors are indicating why heroin is more dangerous than it ever was before.

When someone presents at the hospital or emergency room with a heroin addiction, these risk factors can be identified. This is when the heroin comedown begins.

But we can help with addiction recovery by understanding the signs of heroin use, and prevent the emergency room visits in the first place.

Signs of Heroin Addiction

Signs of heroin addiction are similar to what other signs of any addiction include. They are behavioral and family and friends will generally notice changes in normal behavior.

Because heroin is so addictive, users need to take more and more once they start the habit. This is because they develop a tolerance to the initial dosage, and need higher amounts once they become hooked, which happens very quickly.

Once the brain becomes accustomed to it, it needs more to activate those pleasure centers. It is this tolerance that leads to the cravings for that high.

Once someone is addicted in this capacity, the behavior changes begin. The user will do anything to obtain heroin.

The Mayo Clinic notes that some signs of addiction include a preoccupation with needing the drug. They note that additional drug addiction symptoms include:

  • Being consumed with the need to get the drug, not thinking of anything else
  • Taking more amounts of it over longer periods of time
  • Ensuring you have a lot of the drug on hand
  • Spending money on the drug when you can’t afford it
  • Missing work or life responsibilities
  • Withdrawing from social or family responsibilities
  • Continuing to use it even though it is interfering in your life
  • Driving while using
  • Experiencing withdrawal when you stop using it, or, the heroin comedown
  • Physical problems such as weight loss or fatigue
  • Neglect of appearance or losing interest in grooming
  • Secrecy at home or work exaggerated changes with family entering the bedroom or being secretive about their social outings
  • Money problems

These signs of heroin addiction will come up in discussion during the heroin comedown.  Either inpatient or outpatient treatment for recovery will be required. For severe detox situations, what you’ll find in in-patient treatment will help with all of these problems.

Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms

After the signs of heroin use appear and are identified, recovery is an important next step. When someone is coming down off of a heroin high, they will experience withdrawal signs and symptoms that are known as a heroin comedown.

Because heroin impacts the body in a physical way, the heroin withdrawal period is a physical one. This includes insomnia, anxiety, tearing of the eyes, aches of the muscles, yawning, sweating, agitation, and a runny nose. These are the early withdrawal signs after heroin use.

Later withdrawal symptoms are more severe and physical, notes the Mayo Clinic. Those include nausea, abdominal problems, diarrhea, dilated pupils, vomiting, and goosebumps.

The Mayo Clinic reports those symptoms can occur within 12 hours of the last heroin use. Users with some of these symptoms should not try to detox at home.

Because there are different levels of detoxification, recovery through the heroin comedown is safest in a clinical or hospital setting.

What is Heroin Comedown?

The American Addiction Center reports that heroin is a short-acting drug. The high is achieved quickly, but heroin also leaves the body quickly and as such, withdrawal symptoms will arrive quickly as well. This is the heroin comedown.

The American Addiction Center cites the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimations that those symptoms can arrive as soon as 6 hours after the last heroin use. They will peak within two or three days, lasting five to 10 days in total.

The American Addiction Center notes that detoxing in a medical setting is the safest way to detox from heroin, in order to avoid a heroin-related overdose death.

A medical detoxification usually starts before heroin is out of the system, and can take up to a week. For someone that is heavily addicted to heroin, it could last a little longer.

Medication can help with heroin comedown treatment, and all vital signs will be monitored. Heroin comedown symptoms will not be the same for everyone.

Factors that impact how long recovery will take include the following:

  • How long the drug was used
  • How long it was abused
  • How much was consumed regularly
  • History of mental illness
  • Previous opioid withdrawal

Heroin use induces a pleasure-like feeling, and heroin withdrawal induces the opposite.  When heroin is being used, euphoric feelings occur, with decreased heart rate and low moods.

Withdrawal symptoms might be the opposite, depending on how severe the addiction is. Problems with breathing may occur, cravings for the drug, rapid heart rate and increased blood pressure may occur, as well as muscle spasms. An inability to feel pleasure is also one of the heroin withdrawal symptoms.

Supporting the Heroin Comedown

The only way to prevent the heroin comedown is to avoid using the drug altogether. It is that dangerous. But withdrawal can be easier, and safer, with support. This support can come from family and friends, as well as the medical community.

Withdrawing from heroin is not necessarily dangerous in and of itself, but due to the number of physical symptoms that occur with a serious heroin withdrawal, recovery is best supported in a clinical setting. As well, there are some complications with a heroin comedown that could be life-threatening.

Heroin withdrawal is associated with depression that could lead to suicidal tendencies. Severe use should not ever be stopped without professional recovery support.

Heroin use activates dopamine in the brain which leads to pleasure feelings that are so high the addiction begins. When use is stopped suddenly, dopamine levels crash in the heroin comedown, and this leads to emotional changes with a sudden dopamine drop.

As such, treating heroin addiction in a safe support setting will be multi-pronged. Medical such as methadone or suboxone can be used to treat the addiction during the heroin comedown.

But mental health support is also recommended. There are different treatments and therapy options for heroin addiction.

Finding Heroin Addiction Support

It is not always possible to prevent a heroin addiction when someone finds a gateway to the drug. But preventing a heroin addiction is the most effective tool in fighting the opioid crisis. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence says that due to the billion-dollar costs of this problem, outreach and education are key in helping the public understand the warning signs of heroin addiction and signs of heroin use, and how to get support.

Addiction recovery support to avoid the heroin comedown is easy to find, and available in every state. If you or someone you love is in danger of finding themselves in heroin withdrawal, Addiction Treatment Services will help you to locate addiction recovery support by state.

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.

Heroin Addiction Recovery Rate

Heroin Rehab: What to Know About the Heroin Addiction Recovery Rate

In 2015, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that, while 21.7 million Americans needed substance abuse treatment, only 2.3 million people received it. In other words, only about 10% of the population received professional help for their addiction.

Illicit drug use, such as heroin, can be life-threatening at any point during one’s use. Sobriety is a necessary step toward regaining control and happiness over one’s life.

But what about the heroin addiction recovery rate? Do we see success stories? Are people building the lives they want?

Let’s get into what you need to know!

Understanding The Heroin Epidemic

Despite the recent opioid epidemic, research from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that half as many people tried heroin for the first time in 2017 as in 2016.

However, heroin and other opioid use remains a continuous problem throughout America. Overdose rates continue to ravage the lives of individuals and their loved ones. Entire communities have experienced the devastation these drugs can have on their homes and societies.

Who Uses Heroin?

Nearly 100,000 Americans reported using heroin in 2016. It’s a concerning trend (even if it’s allegedly on the decline).

When most people think of a heroin user, they envision the scrawny and sketchy guy living on the side of the road. They think of the classic ‘junkie’ stereotype.

However, heroin doesn’t just exist on the side of the road in the veins of homeless men and women. Heroin also lurks in American suburbia, in high-achieving schools, and in stay-at-home mothers with chronic pain conditions.

In fact, many people start using heroin as a result of being prescribed prescription painkillers like Oxycontin, Morphine, or Norco.

These painkillers, which have medicinal purposes, can become easily abused. That’s because people quickly develop a tolerance and physical dependence on these substances.

Entering withdrawals can be incredibly painful. Thus, the person will continue taking the drug to ward off the unpleasant feelings.

Because physicians must limit refills and prescription lengths, some people turn to other methods to achieve the opioid sensations. They often end up turning to heroin, as its cheaper, more accessible, and doesn’t require any prescriptions.

Why is Heroin So Dangerous?

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

However, heroin comes with serious potential side effects including:

  • Liver disease
  • Pulmonary infections
  • Arthritis
  • Collapsed veins
  • Chronic constipation and irritable bowels
  • Depression
  • Kidney problems and disease
  • Heart valve infections
  • Skin abscesses
  • The risk of contracting HIV or Hepatitis C

Furthermore, it’s becoming harder and harder to find ‘pure’ heroin. Instead, most street dealers cut heroin with other potent synthetics, such as Fentanyl or carfentanil (both of which can be 100x stronger than heroin).

Therefore, many people use heroin without knowing exactly what they are putting in their bodies. They face the risk of overdosing, which can be fatal.

Why Do People Continue Using Heroin Despite The Dangers?

Many people use heroin for the positive sensations it creates. Heroin can feel incredibly euphoric. It enters the brain rapidly, and it can evoke an ‘immediate’ rush of pleasure.

Others will use it to numb their feelings or to escape their problems and fears. This is often characteristic of addiction. The person believes he or she cannot cope with life without the substance.

Finally, heroin withdrawal can be incredibly distressing. The symptoms can include:

  • Intense cravings
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Severe bone and muscle pain
  • Diarrhea or continued constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cold sweats and gooseflesh
  • Kicking movements
  • Insomnia

While the withdrawal symptoms typically peak between one to three days, many people describe them as one of the worst experiences in the world.

For this reason, even though users may have the best intentions to quit or reduce use, the terrible withdrawals can make it feel impossible.

Understanding Heroin Addiction Treatment

Seeking help for heroin addiction can be one of the most frightening decisions someone can make. It can also be one of the most rewarding.

The decision to attempt sobriety is one that people usually contemplate long before they first step foot into a treatment center.

Seeking Detox

As mentioned, heroin withdrawal symptoms can be fierce. Initially, they are what typically discourage people from abstaining from use.

Detox represents the first step for someone seeking formal help for heroin addiction. The length of detox can range from 5-10 days depending on the individual, types of drugs used, and other medical conditions.

Detox provides on-site monitoring and clinical management. Some centers offer medications for those experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms.

While detox alone does not treat the heroin addiction, it provides the first step towards stabilization and sobriety.

Seeking Treatment

There are a variety of drug and alcohol treatment facilities available to individuals struggling with a heroin addiction.

Treatment can vary drastically, depending on financial factors, individual preferences, location, and medical history. However, all treatment is designed to help people reestablish and rebuild their lives absent from mood-altering substances.

Inpatient treatment provides round-the-clock supervision and structure for patients. Individuals live on-site (or at another established site) and receive a variety of clinical services ranging from individual therapy to medical appointments to even spiritual advising and nutrition-based counseling.

In addition to inpatient treatment, there is also partial-hospitalization (PHP), intensive outpatient (IOP) and outpatient (OP) levels of care. Each of these provides structured and monitored schedules for patients. However, they do not require 24-hour supervision.

In treatment, individuals learn various life skills, relapse prevention techniques, and support with self-esteem and mood management.

Staying Sober From Heroin

Unfortunately, relapse rates for heroin (and all other drugs) remain high. Because addiction represents a chronic disease, relapse can very much be part of the recovery process.

With that said, several factors can increase an individual’s chance for success.

Prioritizing Recovery First

Getting sober is one thing. Staying sober is an entirely different story. The work required in staying sober is both continuous and evolving.

Successful people in recovery put their sobriety above everything else. That includes work, school, and even family and friends. They believe that if they don’t put their recovery first, they won’t be able to have or enjoy all those other things in their life.

Prioritizing your recovery means doing whatever it takes to stay sober. If that means attending inpatient treatment, so be it. If that means committing to prayer every single morning, get on board.

Support Groups

Research shows that positive social interactions with those who support abstinence can improve one’s chances for sobriety.

In a study examining more than 1,700 participants, the results found that greater participation in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was positively associated with successful, sustained recovery.

However, AA is only one option. There are numerous 12-step groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous, Heroin Anonymous, Pills Anonymous, and Nar-Anon available to those in recovery (or for those who have loved ones in recovery).

Additionally, there are other secular alternatives, such as SMART Recovery, Women for Sobriety, LifeRing, Moderation Management, and Secular Organizations For Sobriety.

Reaching Out For Help

A successful recovery entails a level of vulnerability. That means letting go of dark secrets and shame and letting other people in.

Whether it’s through a licensed therapist, pastor or priest, or even just a friend, it’s essential to learn how to ask for help. Identifying feelings and sharing them with another person is powerful. It evokes human connection and decreases toxic shame.

Self-Care

Most people do not adequately take care of themselves when active in their addictions. They may neglect their hygiene and appearance. They may ignore their nutrition, and they may disregard having a healthy sleep schedule.

Successful recovery requires self-care and self-compassion. By taking the time to develop positive habits, people learn how to implement stress management. They also learn how to value taking care of themselves before trying to spread themselves too thin.

Identifying Triggers

Triggers can happen anywhere. They can exist in a familiar place, a toxic friendship, or even in a nostalgic smell. When someone doesn’t know their triggers, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and distressed when they arise.

Identifying current and potential triggers can be empowering. This process allows people to create action-based plans for managing difficult moments. It also allows them to insulate themselves with more support during these times.

Managing Stress

Many people use heroin to numb and check out from life altogether. Reentering back into the real world can feel frightening.

Stress management is critical. This includes learning how to stay in the now by practicing mindfulness and meditation. It also includes determining how to identify what is and what isn’t in one’s control.

Finally, stress management means having other enjoyable activities and hobbies that evoke feelings of joy and recreation. These can range from physical activities to artistic expression to social interactions.

Sober Environments

In early recovery, some people cannot live in their homes if other tenants are using drugs or alcohol. The situation becomes too triggering.

Sober environments, such as formal sober livings or halfway homes, provide the opportunity for like-minded individuals to reside together collectively. Tenants pay rent, collaborate on chores, and receive routine drug tests.

If it’s not possible to move out of the home, experts recommend having an honest conversation with your family or roommates. This may consist of asking to uphold a no-drug policy at home, and it may require removing any triggering paraphenelia.

What Is The Heroin Addiction Recovery Rate?

Studies on recovery success rates have been historically challenging to find. Many people drop out of studies (due to relapse). Furthermore, it can be hard to find a quality sample group that represents the general population struggling with addiction.

However, the chronic nature of addiction means that people do relapse, and relapse rates are similar to those of other chronic medical illnesses. If and when people stop following their treatment protocols, they are likely to relapse.

In research comparing relapse rates between substance use and other chronic illnesses, up to 40-60% of individuals relapse. 

It can also be challenging to identify the nature of a relapse. If, for example, a heroin user drinks alcohol, is it considered a relapse? What if he receives a narcotic IV drip at a hospital post-surgery?

For these reasons, it’s essential for anyone struggling with addiction to have a personalized relapse prevention plan. Having a professional or support group assist with this plan can best keep people on track.

What Are The Signs of A Relapse?

While relapse can occur at any time during any stage of recovery, the following symptoms could reveal a slippery slope:

  • Disregarding responsibilities at work or school
  • Increased depression or anxiety
  • Lack of interest in usual hobbies or activities
  • Increase in lying or sneaking around
  • Becoming overly defensive over various behavior
  • Engaging in impulsive or radical behavior
  • Feeling unmotivated
  • Becoming easily angered or irritated
  • Feelings of dissatisfaction with life
  • Associating with old friends or partners associated with addiction

These warning signs can creep up in insidious ways. Before realizing it, the individual may be in full-blown relapse mode.

That’s why it’s so important to know the signals and recognize them as they start happening. Having strong accountability with other people helps. Additionally, identifying all the reasons to stay sober and push through the distress can also help.

While relapse can and does occur, it does not mean someone failed. Rather, it’s a sign that something wasn’t working, and that something must be changed.

Final Thoughts

There’s no doubt that heroin addiction represents a severe and concerning problem in modern society. Even though the heroin addiction recovery rate may seem bleak, people are transforming their lives every single day.

We want to help you find your light! Contact us today for any questions related to addiction, treatment, or scheduling an intervention. We’re here to support you.

heroin addiction treatment

The Best Treatment Options for People on Heroin

There’s no denying the reality of the opioid epidemic in America. There were more than 72,000 total drug overdose deaths in America in 2017 alone. Almost 30,000 of those were from the synthetic opioid fentanyl and fentanyl analogs.

Since heroin is often cheaper to get than prescription opioids, the epidemic encompasses this dangerous drug as well. Heroin use has been on the rise since 2007, with almost one million Americans using heroin in 2016. It is time for our nation to do something to change this.

Saving people who are using heroin occurs one person at a time. That’s why we’ve assembled this guide to treatment options for people who are using heroin. After reading it, you and your family can offer meaningful support to the heroin addict in your life.

Read on to learn about the devastation that heroin addiction can cause and the treatments that can help.

People on Heroin by the Numbers

You may not need more facts to convince you it’s important to treat heroin addiction in the United States. But here are a few figures that give an even clearer picture of the problem.

Increases in heroin use are especially troubling in young populations. Adults ages 18-25 have seen a greater increase of heroin users than any other age group. This is unfortunate, but it is also surprising, given the fact that there have been declines in heroin use in children ages 12-17.

Over a 10 year span from 2002 to 2012, the incidence of first-time heroin use was almost 20 times higher if the person had first used non-medical pain relievers. A study of young urban injection drug users published in 2012 found that 86 percent of them had used opioid pain relievers nonmedically before starting heroin.

Overdose deaths involving heroin have increased immensely in the past few years. In 2017 alone, there were nearly 16,000 overdose deaths that involved heroin.

It’s not just urban centers that are witnessing overdose deaths, both in first-time users and increased users. Suburban and rural communities, especially near St. Louis and Chicago, are suffering these effects as well.

Adults ages 18-25 are also seeking more treatment for heroin addiction. This group comprised 11 percent of admissions in 2008. That number was up to 26 percent as of the first half of 2012.

The Damage Heroin Does to a Person’s Body and Mind

It’s heartening to see a greater percentage of young people seeking treatment for heroin addiction. It’s a good thing they are, too, because heroin wreaks havoc on the body and the mind. Seeing these effects begin at such a young age is disheartening.

Here are just a few of the ways in which heroin affects the user.

In the short term, heroin can cause vomiting and constipation. It can also reduce one’s sex drive and make it difficult to achieve orgasm.

Because of these reasons, many people steer clear of heroin after trying it just once. The risks are just not worth the reward of the heroin high.

In the long-term, heroin abuse deteriorates white matter in the brain. This limits brain activity, which makes it difficult for heroin users to make decisions. They have less control over their behavior and become unable to respond to stress.

There are also long-term medical effects of heroin use. They include collapsed veins, abscesses, muscle and bone pain, infection of the heart, and risk of HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.

The Damage Heroin Does to Families

If heroin only hurt the user, it would be bad enough. But the drug’s damages do not stop at the individual level. They extend to families and loved ones as well.

Heroin users’ parents and spouses often adopt unhealthy and codependent caretaker roles. They blame themselves for their partner’s or child’s addiction. This entanglement only increases the guilt of the caretaker instead of helping the addict.

Another strain heroin puts on relationships is financial. Heroin users manipulate loved ones into supporting them emotionally and financially. These strains can damage these relationships to the point of breaking.

The children of heroin addicts also suffer from their parents’ addiction. These parents raise their children in toxic environments. This makes their children more likely to develop substance use disorders themselves.

Children of heroin addicts can also suffer from low self-esteem, fear of abandonment, and depression. They also display compulsive behaviors ranging from overeating to compulsive sexual behavior.

How to Tell If Someone Is Using Heroin and Needs Treatment

It’s clear heroin use is a killer of individuals as well as families. If you are not sure if your loved one is using heroin, here are some warning signs to look for.

They may have shortness of breath, dry mouth, vomiting, rapid weight loss, and scabs from picking at their skin. They may have slurred speech or be unable to hold themselves upright. Track marks from needles may appear on their arms or feet.

The psychological symptoms are also extreme. Your loved one may undergo quick personality changes from intense euphoria to anxiety and depression. They may also display an inability to make decisions or show emotions.

Frequently, heroin addicts display confusion and jumbled thoughts in their day-to-day lives. If they tend to drift off or get lost in conversation, they may be suffering the psychological symptoms of heroin addiction.

Heroin users also display external behavioral symptoms.

They may be secretive about their activities, like stealing or shoplifting. They may lack productivity or be unable to fulfill their responsibilities. They may spend all their time seeking out the next fix despite the consequences, no matter how severe.

Intervention or No Intervention?

Once you’ve identified that your loved one is a heroin addict, it is easy to become hopeless. Resisting this hopelessness is essential to getting the addict help.

You have to approach the subject of treatment to help the addict in your life. But this can be one of the trickiest parts of getting the addict the help they need.

One question that comes up early in the process is whether or not to hold an intervention. An intervention can help the addict come to their senses. They can realize the damage they are causing to themselves and to others.

But interventions don’t always look like they do on television. Interventions can backfire when an addict is unwilling to face their situation squarely. When this happens, an intervention may create more problems than it solves.

If you are certain an intervention is necessary for your situation, you may want to seek the help of a professional interventionist. There are a few tangible benefits of doing so.

As a third party observer, an interventionist can provide an objective perspective on your situation that you do not have. They can see the problems that exist in the family as well as in the addict. Because of their removal, they can address those problems in addition to the addiction.

Many interventionists take a holistic approach to treatment. They can help addicts identify co-occurring addictions and mental health issues. They cannot diagnose these things, but they can suggest resources for treating these issues.

Once the addict and their family seek help, an interventionist can also provide ongoing support. They can assist the family throughout the treatment-seeking process.

What Does Treatment Look Like?

Once the addict has admitted to their problem and committed to seeking out a treatment program, what are the options for treatment?

Not all programs are created equal. Some will work better than others, depending on the personality of the addict and the nature of their addiction. But here are a few common features you may find scattered across various treatment programs.

Detox

Many treatment programs begin with a period of detoxification. It’s a painful part of the process, and some addicts resist treatment simply because they are afraid of the symptoms of withdrawal that rear their heads in detox.

These symptoms may include stomach pain, muscle spasms, severe depression, agitation, nervousness, sweating, and nausea.

Detox usually lasts between five and seven days, and treatment programs often provide supervision and medical assistance to addicts during this time to help mitigate their symptoms of withdrawal.

Residential Treatment

Because of the intensity of heroin addiction, residential treatment is frequently recommended for heroin addicts looking to get sober. Inpatient treatment programs typically last anywhere from 30 days to or even six or 12 months, though those times can vary quite a bit from program to program.

The great benefit of residential treatment programs is their ability to treat the addiction holistically. These programs usually employ medical staff to treat the physical symptoms and issues that the heroin addict faces, but they also employ therapists and counselors to address the underlying psychological causes of the addiction.

These highly structured programs involve a variety of therapies as well as group and individual activities to address an addict’s problems and show them what a brighter future might look like.

Inpatient treatment programs can be expensive. They may cost a couple hundred or up to a thousand dollars per day. Fortunately, a good health insurance plan will cover much of the cost of inpatient rehab.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment programs, often referred to as IOP for “intensive outpatient program” or PHP for “partial hospitalization program,” split the difference between residential treatment and simply going off heroin cold turkey. These are programs that offer many of the resources of the residential programs without the time commitment that comes with living in the facility where you receive treatment.

Outpatient treatment gives some freedom to the addict, which may be a blessing or a curse, depending on the individual case. Typically, a PHP offers more structure and requires more of a time commitment than an IOP.

If the cost of an inpatient program is prohibitive, an outpatient program can give the addict resources in a structured setting without placing much financial burden on the caretaker.

Long-Term Aftercare

No matter how long the initial treatment program, a heroin addict requires a lifetime of support afterward. Since there are no lifetime treatment programs, that help has to come in other forms.

Some treatment programs offer aftercare in the form of returning to the treatment center with decreasing frequency after leaving the program. This provides some scaffolding from the resources of the program to the addict’s ongoing treatment team in the outside world.

That treatment team is an important part of aftercare. An addict should connect with doctors who support their physical health and mental health professionals who can address ongoing psychological issues.

Another bridge from treatment to unassisted living is the sober-living facility. This is a house for addicts fresh out of treatment. They maintain a structured routine and begin to look for jobs.

A sober-living facility can help an addict experience life in the outside world. They start to look beyond the walls of the treatment center.

Aftercare may also include attendance at 12-step meetings or other recovery groups. At these groups, addicts can experience community with each other while supporting each other in their recovery. Some addicts find this support in faith-based communities as well.

The Options for Treatment Are Many and Real

While the number of people using heroin is depressing, it doesn’t have to be a dead end. There are real options when it comes to helping heroin addicts face their issues and overcome their addictions. They involve patience on the parts of the families and willingness from the addicts themselves.

Check out our heroin addiction treatment services for more information on how you can help the heroin addict in your life.