Opioid epidemic in America

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are Opioids?

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

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

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

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

What Do Opioids Do?

Opioids relieve pain by binding to opioid receptors.

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

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

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

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

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

Effects of Opioids on Society

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

Opioids and Relationships

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

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

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

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

Opioids and Crime

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

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

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

Opioids and Illness

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

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

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

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

Signs of Opioid Addiction

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

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

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

Overcoming Opioid Addiction

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

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

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

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

Addiction Recovery Options

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

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

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

Get Help with Opioid Addiction Today

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

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

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

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

References

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.

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 Advantages of Heroin Treatment for Drug Users

There’s no doubt that we are in the midst of a devastating opioid epidemic. In 2017 alone, 72,000 people died from a drug overdose.

If you or someone you love is struggling with heroin addiction, it’s normal to feel helpless, scared, or confused. It’s also normal to question whether or not sobriety is possible.

Heroin addiction treatment can provide the relief and solutions you need to get your life back on track.

Let’s get into everything you need to know.

What Are The Signs Of Heroin Addiction?

Addiction is not always apparent. In fact, it can be subtle and insidious. Many people struggling with drug problems lie or hide their habits to appear ‘normal’ to the outside world.

With that said, heroin can be incredibly addictive. Typical signs of addiction include:

  • Increased tolerance to heroin (needing to use more to achieve the desired effect)
  • Presence of withdrawal symptoms when attempting to abstain from heroin or other opioids
  • Spending a great deal of time and energy trying to obtain drugs
  • Using heroin despite its interference with other obligations (school, work, relationships)
  • Using heroin despite wanting to cut back or quit
  • Using heroin in hazardous conditions (for example, when driving)

Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease. That means it is not merely a phase, and it does not necessarily get better on its own.

If you suspect a loved one may be struggling with heroin addiction, there are a few telltale symptoms to consider.

Withdrawal Symptoms

When an individual stops using heroin, he or she experiences withdrawal symptoms. This can range from moderately uncomfortable to highly distressing depending on the frequency and intensity of drug use.

Your loved one may complain about muscle aches, pains, or burning sensations. You may hear them say they feel like they’re “crawling out of their skin”.

Withdrawal symptoms can also look like the ordinary flu. Your loved one may experience vomiting, diarrhea, and goosebumps.

Signs of Physical IV Drug Use

If your loved one uses heroin intravenously, you may notice physical signs around the injection sites. These can include scars, bruises, scabs, and fresh needle marks.

Many users start injecting in their arm veins, but over time, people will use any vein they can.

Signs of Drug Paraphernalia

Drug injection paraphernalia can include:

  • Lighters
  • Syringes or needles
  • Cotton balls
  • Burnt spoons
  • Belt or rubber tube (used as a tourniquet)

Smoking or snorting paraphernalia can consist of:

  • Burnt aluminum foil
  • Soda straws
  • Pipes
  • Rolled dollar bills
  • Razor blades
  • Powdery residue on a hard surface
  • Hollowed-out pens

You may also spot small, individual baggies, balloons, or foil squares–all of which can be used to transport and store heroin.

Why Not Stop Cold Turkey?

Quitting heroin cold-turkey can be incredibly dangerous. While stopping heroin use is not inherently life-threatening, medical complications can arise.

For example, if you were using other drugs, such as benzodiazepines or alcohol, a sudden detox can result in seizures, which can result in death.

Furthermore, detox is physically unpleasant. Some people describe it as one of the worst sensations in the world. Therefore, tackling this challenge alone may be nearly impossible.

Many people have great intentions to stop heroin use. After a few days of feeling the sickness associated with withdrawal, they often succumb to intense cravings. A vicious cycle of relapse occurs.

For these reasons, most professionals recommend admitting into a professionally monitored detox facility to enter the first stage of recovery successfully.

In a detox facility, individuals receive 24/7 support, monitoring, and evaluation during the intoxication and withdrawal process. They will also receive the encouragement to enter into a long-term treatment program.

What Are The Goals of Heroin Addiction Treatment?

Recovery can be a long and arduous journey. It may be one of the hardest experiences you face in your entire life.

The goals of heroin addiction treatment are to help you:

  • Obtain medical and psychological stability
  • Increase awareness of your addiction and risky patterns
  • Develop a sober support system
  • Learn coping tools to manage difficult cravings and life stressors
  • Reintegrate back into society as a functioning member
  • Feel empowered over staying sober

While all addiction centers have different rules and policies, treatment is designed to help individuals restore their livelihood.

Most treatment centers follow specified schedules offering a variety of therapies and groups. These may include:

  • Relapse prevention classes
  • Life skills (money management, legal issues)
  • Trauma-based therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Yoga and meditation
  • 12-Step meetings
  • Psychoeducational groups
  • Interpersonal communication skills
  • Nutrition and fitness
  • Specialized therapies (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy).

In these groups and therapies, you will learn to discuss your problems, develop healthy solutions, and create positive relationships with your peers.

You will typically have a treatment team that consists of a case manager, therapist, medical doctor, and one or more substance use counselors.

Each of these individuals will work together to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. Together, you will all create a comprehensive recovery plan that will improve your chances of success.

Being Removed From Your Familiar Environment

One of the greatest advantages of attending treatment is the exclusive focus on you and your life. That’s why many people benefit from participating in a treatment program away from their homes.

This is not a punishment. Instead, it’s an opportunity to truly focus on yourself and your recovery without the distractions looming at home. After all, it’s hard to pay attention when you feel distracted by work needs, family, or running into your old dealer.

Developing A Sober Network

Creating a strong sense of community is one of the best advantages of treatment. Many people struggling with addiction feel alone and disconnected from the rest of society. They may feel ashamed or humiliated by their use, and they often feel like they are undeserving of quality relationships.

Proper treatment can squash this myth. You’ll be surrounded by people who get it. In even just a short amount of time, it’s possible to create powerful friendships with your peers.

Introspection and Reflection

In treatment, you will learn tremendously about yourself and your relationships with others. You will learn how and why you have used heroin to cope with life stressors, and you will learn about how to manage your emotions more productively.

Quitting the drug itself is often not enough to stay sober. You need to understand your triggers and your stressors. You need to be able to create a reasonable plan for the future to decrease your risk for a relapse.

Support For Co-Occurring Disorders

7.9 million Americans have a co-occurring disorder. Co-occurring disorders refer to the presence of both a substance use disorder and another mental illness, such as depression or anxiety.

When getting sober, you may struggle with increased mental health symptoms. You may feel more depressed or anxious. You may struggle to cope with the suppressed trauma that you’ve been numbing for years.

Most treatment centers provide on-site medical and psychological support for co-occurring disorders. This can include specific therapies or prescribed medications for mood management. It may also include additional treatment planning with mental health concerns in mind.

After all, if you only target the addiction without addressing other symptoms, you risk the chance for relapse.

Improving Self-Esteem

Completing a treatment program feels incredibly rewarding. Being able to prove to yourself or others that you can stay sober feels terrific.

It’s tough to feel motivated to attempt sobriety when you don’t have good self-esteem. Paradoxically, most people struggling with addiction also struggle with self-esteem.

Treatment provides you with the coping skills, affirmations, and validation you need to see yourself in a better light. Being able to know that you are worth it can make a profound difference in how you live your life.

What About Long-Term Aftercare?

Treatment is only the first step in sobriety. Completing a program doesn’t mean the work is over. In fact, for most people, treatment is the easiest part of staying sober.

Professionals recommend long-term aftercare following treatment completion. This may include a step-down in care, such as transitioning into a lower level of treatment. It may also include moving into a sober living environment.

On a long-term basis, aftercare may include support group attendance and individual therapy. It may include attending weekly yoga classes or committing to praying every morning.

Recovery is something that people work on throughout their lives. Everybody needs to determine what will work best for them. Additionally, it’s normal to make modifications regarding aftercare along the way.

While there is no cure for addiction, there is management, and learning these skills can bring you the happiness and relief you deserve.

What If Relapse Occurs?

Relapse can occur during and after treatment. Some argue that relapse is a necessary part of recovery, that it’s just a routine step in the process.

For heroin addiction, relapse can be severe and life-threatening. Many individuals revert to using the same amount they did before entering treatment. However, because their tolerance has decreased, they face a higher risk for an overdose.

If relapse does occur, it’s essential to reach out for support as soon as possible. Entering back into a safe detox will usually be the safest bet.

If you relapsed, it is crucial to be kind to yourself. Your addiction does not make you a failure. Furthermore, trying again and asking for help is one of the bravest steps you can take.

If your loved one relapsed, it’s vital that you establish the boundaries you want to set. For example, you may not want this person living in your home. You may not want to provide him with money.

Boundaries help you maintain your sense of peace during this difficult time. They are not meant to punish your loved one. Instead, they are meant to promote recovery and help you preserve your emotional needs.

How Do You Convince Someone To Seek Treatment?

It’s devastating to watch addiction destroy the life of someone you love. You may feel angry, confused, or powerless to the situation.

Pleading often doesn’t work. Neither does begging, shaming, or guilt-tripping. In fact, these well-intentioned communication skills often backfire.

If you’re planning to talk for the first time, do it in a safe and controlled manner. Do not attempt to speak to your loved one if he or she is under the influence. Do not put yourself in a physically unsafe situation.

Instead, it’s essential that you voice your concerns in a safe and non-judgmental manner. Consider approaching your loved one with empathy. Let them know that you know they are struggling and that it must be very hard.

Ask questions and maintain a curious stance. Use ‘I-statements’ to verbalize how you feel. Keep a calm and even-keeled tone, even if they don’t.

You should prepare yourself mentally for your loved one to have an adverse reaction. You should prepare for lashing back. Defensiveness and denial go hand-in-hand with addiction.

At that point, you may need to consider staging an intervention. This typically requires gathering everyone into the same room to discuss how the individual’s addiction has impacted each of them.

If you choose to use an interventionist or stage an intervention, you need to be prepared to uphold your boundaries.

Final Thoughts

Seeking heroin addiction treatment can be a profound decision that changes your life. If you or a loved one are struggling, help and relief are available. You can live a meaningful and enjoyable life in sobriety.

Ready to take the next step in locating the best treatment? Contact our addiction intervention specialists today. We are here for you every step of the way.

heroin addiction

Rehab 911: 7 Signs of Heroin Use You Can’t Ignore

Your family is going through a rough time, and it’s hard to explain the issues away as simply life stress. It’s terrifying to think that your loved one might be abusing heroin, but if you do believe that is the case, you don’t have time to waste.

Heroin abuse is on the rise in multiple states, and it’s more than doubled among young adults in the past decade. What’s even scarier is that fatal overdoses are also on the rise.

If you think your loved one may be addicted, keep reading for the nine common signs of heroin use.

1. Behavioral Changes

One of the first signs of heroin addiction to watch out for is behavioral changes.

Among the most obvious is a sudden, inexplicable need for secrecy. This may be accompanied by increased aggression. You may notice this the most when asking your loved one about something that seems inconsequential to you, only to be met with an unexpected outburst.

These signs aren’t unique to heroin use.

What is somewhat unique to heroin use is mood swings, an apparent lack of emotional regulation, and depression. Heroin highs cause feelings of euphoria, which is part of why the drug is so addictive.

What makes it worse is that a heroin addict’s brain starts to rely on heroin to experience any feelings of joy or happiness. While off the drug, this can result in depression or sudden mood swings, especially if the individual is using drugs to self-medicate for an underlying mental illness.

Often, these highs and lows are taken out on the people around them, especially loved ones trying to express concern.

If your loved one is lashing out at you, try to keep your anger or frustration in check and look for patterns in their behavioral shifts.

2. Physical Changes

More obvious than the behavioral changes are the physical changes your loved one will exhibit after prolonged heroin abuse.

Heroin is taken by injection, which creates track marks, or puncture wounds resulting from injecting drugs and bruises that appear around the injection site. Many heroin users inject on their arms for ease of access and prominent veins.

On one hand, this is a good thing, because if track marks are in obvious places, they’re easy to spot. Because of this, chronic users will wear long sleeves or long pants to hide the marks.

You’ll likely also notice a decline in personal hygiene, especially if your loved one has been abusing for some time. Disorientation and drowsiness from heroin abuse may often lead your loved one to lose interest in (or forget to) take care of themselves.

Other physical symptoms immediately following heroin consumption include:

  • Constricted (small) pupils
  • Droopy appearance, as though it takes too much effort to support their limbs
  • Dry mouth
  • Shortness of breath

Another clear sign is suddenly losing a significant amount of weight. One of the side effects of heroin is a decreased appetite, which means that if your loved one is consistently high, they won’t have any desire to eat.

In women, this may also result in a sudden loss of her period as her body struggles to conserve resources.

3. Personality Changes

On the more frightening end of the spectrum are the personality changes resulting from heroin abuse.

When someone has a heroin problem, it becomes the focus of their life. It’s their reason for getting up in the morning and the sole motivator behind their actions. Anyone else’s needs become irrelevant, especially if they conflict with the person’s ability to get high.

If you notice that your once kind, generous loved one has become closed off, uncaring, and even selfish to the point of cruelty, this is a major red flag. Even the sweetest person can turn callous, reckless, and mean when looking for their next hit.

This also coincides with disengagement from family and friends. While an addict may be able to maintain appearances for a while, they inevitably turn further and further inward as their addiction worsens. Usually, this shows up in the form of excuses, missed commitments, and lacking interest in the wellbeing of others.

4. Lying and Manipulating

There are two big commonalities across addictions: lying and manipulative behavior.

If you’ve known and trusted someone for many years, it can be hard to set that trust aside when they start lying to you. A particularly skilled liar can fool their closest friends and family members for years on end.

But the sad truth is that addicts lie constantly, whether the lie is big or small. They lie about where they were when they were actually buying or using drugs. They lie about why they were late or why they missed a commitment. They lie about the thousands of dollars they spend on drugs.

If a person’s behavior changes and their explanations don’t add up, you have to hold onto your common sense. When an explanation doesn’t make sense, there’s usually a good reason.

Sometimes, you can investigate the explanation and catch your loved one in a lie. A lot of the time, though, there’s no way to call your loved one out for lying to you without voicing your real suspicions.

Manipulative behavior isn’t as obvious, especially if your loved one is good at it.

Sometimes it’s a subtle redirection of the conversation when your loved one is avoiding an explanation of where they were. Sometimes it’s more insidious, like guilt-baiting, the silent treatment, passive-aggressiveness, or conditional acceptance.

Sometimes, it’s obvious–promising to go to treatment, or to quit using, or any number of promises to lull you into believing them.

Don’t let yourself fall for it in the hopes that the problem will go away if you believe them. You can’t afford to wait for them to hit rock bottom.

5. Shifting Blame

Another common tactic among addicts is shifting blame, also expressed as playing the victim.

Your loved one may have been a responsible person before. Heroin takes that away. Remember–when someone is addicted, the only thing that really matters is the next high.

Addicted individuals quickly become masters of lying to themselves in order to deflect their internal feelings of guilt and blame, which makes it easy, as time goes on, to deflect blame onto others.

For example, if your loved one loses their job, they’ll say they were unfairly targeted by their boss.

Anytime you attempt to bring up problems with your loved one, they’ll find a way to shift the blame onto you or others. Don’t get angry, don’t rise to the bait, and don’t let yourself be misdirected. You know what the problem is, and you can’t let your loved one off the hook.

6. Ongoing Health Problems

Along with the physical symptoms of heroin abuse, your loved one will also experience ongoing health problems as a result of long-term abuse.

One of the most common signs is a runny nose that cannot be explained by an illness, allergies, the weather, or any other medical condition.

Since heroin is taken via injection, problems with the blood and veins are unique to heroin abuse. Repeated abuse can lead to collapsed veins, which can, in turn, create blood clots and abscesses.

If your loved one is careless with their needles, there’s also a high risk of blood-borne diseases and STDs, particularly HIV. Even if they don’t contract illnesses from other users, there’s still a significant risk of blood infections.

This may result in sepsis or septicemia, a condition in which the immune system is fighting overtime to resist a blood-borne infection.

In severe cases, this can lead to septic shock (a dangerous drop in blood pressure) which can quickly cause multiple organ failure–the kidneys, lungs, and liver are at especially high risk.

In addition, because your loved one isn’t eating (or isn’t eating normally), and because they’re neglecting personal hygiene, their immune system is operating at a disadvantage. This leaves them more susceptible to common illnesses and poorly equipped to fight off infection.

7. Change in Relationship Dynamics

Another thing you’ll notice in your loved one, especially as their addiction progresses, is a shift in relationship dynamics.

This will come in two parts. First, you will notice a declining interest in spending time with their family or friends. Second, you will see them spending more time with new friends who don’t seem to have any organic tie to them.

To be clear, making new friends on its own isn’t cause for concern. People make new friends all the time. It’s concerning if your loved one’s excuses for their time often crop up when these friends are involved, or if these friends exhibit many of the same troubling signs as your loved one.

And while a missed commitment here and there is rude, it’s not the end of the world. It’s cause for concern when it becomes a pattern of neglected family or work obligations followed by a litany of lame excuses, dismissiveness, or outright hostility.

Tragically, some addicts do become outright abusive to their loved ones, especially a spouse. If this happens, don’t let fear control you, and don’t feel like you owe it to your loved one to tolerate it.

There is no excuse for abuse of any kind, and there’s a difference between wanting to help your loved one and enabling their behavior. If a loved one is physically harmful or emotionally toxic, don’t neglect your own wellbeing in order to tend to theirs.

8. Financial Problems

If you notice your loved one is experiencing money problems that cannot be explained away, it could be a dangerous sign when paired with other red flags for heroin abuse.

Heroin is an expensive habit to maintain and it gets more expensive as time goes on. If items go missing in your home, bills are missed, or groceries are neglected, you should wonder where that money is going.

If you have any shared accounts that show withdrawals that cannot be explained, the same thing applies.

Someone with access to cash may also embezzle funds from their workplace or steal valuable items. They may also shoplift or commit credit fraud.

It’s also concerning if your loved one keeps asking you for money without any real explanation for their financial problems or why they seem to use up the money you give without any apparent improvement to the situation.

9. Loss of Concentration or Interest

Finally, you may also notice a loss of concentration or interest.

For example, a teenager who previously had good grades and performed well in school may start having academic problems or neglecting activities they once enjoyed. A spouse may neglect date night, happy hour, work functions, or dinners with friends.

A shift in priorities due to a job or a move is one thing. A sudden lack of interest in beloved activities is something else entirely.

This also ties into a lack of communication with friends and family. As your loved one sinks deeper into addiction, it becomes easier for them to cover their addiction if they limit interaction with friends and family.

If You See the Signs of Heroin Use

If you see the signs of heroin use in your loved one, you can’t afford to wait. Heroin addiction is incredibly dangerous and can have a catastrophic effect on your loved one’s life.

The good news is that you don’t have to fight it alone.

We help you get in touch with recovery professionals specializing in heroin addiction. Click here to check out our available resources. Or, if you’re ready to get your loved one started on the road to recovery, get in touch with us today.

Drug and Alcohol Detox Treatment Programs

One of the major factors that impact addiction recovery is the severity of the patient’s biological and psychological dependency on the substance or substances they’ve been abusing. A biological or chemical dependency can be just as strenuous to combat as a psychological dependency, depending on the substances being abused and the duration of misuse, which can impact the types of treatment recommended and the duration of a patient’s treatment plan.

A substance dependence is the result of the body getting to used to the presence of a substance, such as alcohol or tobacco, that the user has to change their habits in order to continue getting the effects of the substance. These changes usually lead to disruptions to their daily life and relationships in some way as the problems caused by their substance abuse become more significant. Some signs of a drug or alcohol dependency include:

  • An increased tolerance for the substance, leading to increased amounts of the substance being used in order to receive the same “high”
  • The presence of withdrawal symptoms when you decrease your intake or attempt to stop using the drug that makes it difficult to combat the problem own
  • Significant amounts of your time are spent trying to get more drugs or alcohol, using them, and recovering from the effects
  • Cutting back on or avoiding social and recreational activities or hobbies
  • Continuing to abuse the substance despite awareness of the physical and mental health ramifications, strain the problem is putting on your social life and loved one, and other potential problems (such as financial strain)

 

What is Medically Assisted Detoxification?

Medically assisted detox is a common first step when attempting to overcome a physical addiction to drugs or alcohol. There are inpatient and outpatient detox programs, but a medically assisted program requires inpatient treatment so medical professionals can monitor the patient’s withdrawal symptoms and progress.

Since medications are administered to lessen and control withdrawal symptoms during medically assisted detox treatment, recovering addicts generally deal with less discomfort during their detox process. The medical professional or detox team overseeing treatment may alternate or switch out the medications used as needed to help the patient’s withdrawal symptoms.

After detox, the patient’s physical dependency is removed, meaning they can focus on therapy programs and behavioral changes to curb any remaining urges to use. The physical need for the substance, however, should be removed entirely after this process.

 

Withdrawal Syndrome

Withdrawal syndrome is a blanket term for the side effects a person suffers from when they try to stop using a substance their body has become dependent upon. The longer a person is using said substance and the larger their doses, the more likely they are to suffer from varying degrees of a withdrawal syndrome.

Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to lethal depending on the substance being abused, how that substance is abused, and the level of dependency or intensity of their addiction. Withdrawal symptoms can manifest physically and psychologically, which is why it’s highly discouraged for people to stop their substance abuse suddenly (or “cold turkey”) since their reaction could be highly adverse and dangerous in some way.

Depending on the substance and severity of the substance dependence, withdrawal symptoms can start manifesting in as little as a few hours after an individual’s last high, but usually it takes a day or two to fully set it.

Patients should also expect to have cravings during their detox phase as a byproduct of withdrawal syndrome. In the case of a severe addiction, medically assisted detox treatment is often the best option available to successfully detox from any substance.

 

Alcohol Detox Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome typically involves symptoms pertaining to the central nervous system. Depending on the severity of the addiction, withdrawal symptoms can range from rather mild to extremely life-threatening, making alcohol one of the more dangerous substance to detox from without the aid of medical professionals.

In most cases, withdrawal symptoms begin 6 to 24 hours after the last alcoholic drink consumed and usually lasts for about a week. In extreme cases, symptoms can begin appearing as little as 2 hours after the individual has had an alcoholic beverage. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations (Auditory, Visual, or Tactile)
  • Tremors (“the shakes”)
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness, Nausea, and/or Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Mood Swings
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression/Agitation
  • Headaches/Migraines
  • High blood pressure
  • Cravings (usually for Alcohol)
  • Anhedonia
  • Delirium tremens (usually occurs 24-72 hours after intake cessation)

Of these symptoms, insomnia, seizures, delirium tremens, and mood swings are some of the most dangerous reactions and are more likely to promote relapse. Delirium tremens is especially dangerous and usually requires immediate medical attention if it manifests in a recovering addict.

 

Heroin, Opiate, and Opioid Detox Withdrawal Symptoms

Despite being a significantly difficult class of drugs to stop using, opiates and opioid detox typically takes 5-10 days. Withdrawal symptoms for these drugs can be tough, however, although medically assisted detox programs can help control the more extreme withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms can take as little as a few hours to show up, especially with drugs that get into and out of the bloodstream as quickly as opioids and opiates.

 

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Short term heroin withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Cold and Flu-like symptoms
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive secretion of tears
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Uncontrollable yawning
  • Excessive sweating
  • Muscle aches and spasms
  • Aggression
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Inability to concentrate

In some cases, patients will experience long-term withdrawal side effects as well, which can impact recovery severely if not treated properly. These side effects include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Paranoia
  • Hyperactivity
  • Drug cravings
  • Relapse

 

Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Opioid withdrawal symptoms that usually begin in the first 24 hours after cessation include:

  • Restlessness
  • Aches and pains
  • Anxiety
  • Lacrimation (eyes tearing up)
  • Runny nose/cold-like symptoms
  • Excessive yawning
  • Inability to sleep
  • Excessive sweating

 

Additional symptoms, which can be more intense and typically start after your first day, usually include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps and discomfort
  • Diarrhea
  • Goosebumps/Chills
  • Dilated pupils and blurry vision
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure

 

Cocaine and Crack Cocaine Detox Withdrawal Symptoms

Compared to other drugs, cocaine withdrawal tends to be milder and mostly psychological in nature. This doesn’t mean that cocaine detox isn’t a struggle, but it’s often less extreme than other detox processes. Since cocaine enters and leaves the bloodstream very quickly compared to other substances, symptoms can manifest in as little as 90 minutes and typically last for 7-10 days.

 

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure)
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Inability to experience sexual arousal
  • Reduced cognitive function (difficulty concentrating, thinking, etc)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Cold and Flu-like symptoms
  • Increased appetite
  • Chills/tremors
  • Muscle aches
  • Nerve pain
  • Restlessness
  • Vivid dreams or nightmares

Crack cocaine is more concentrated than regular cocaine, and the withdrawal symptoms are often more intense as a result. For most people, crack cocaine detox involves two stages:

Acute Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Disturbing dreams or nightmares
  • Reduced cognitive function (difficulty concentrating, thinking, etc)
  • Exhaustion
  • Mood changes
  • Irritability

Post-acute Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure)
  • Insomnia
  • Increased agitation
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Cravings
  • Tremors and shaking
  • Lack of motivation

Unfortunately for recovering crack addicts, the physical symptoms of crack cocaine withdrawal can last for months after discontinued use depending on the severity of their addiction and intensity of their usage habits prior to rehab treatment.

 

Methamphetamine Detox Withdrawal Symptoms

Methamphetamine (Meth, Crystal Meth, Speed, etc.) is an increasingly popular man-made stimulant that has something of a unique detox process. Unlike most substances, studies have shown that methamphetamine withdrawal has a relatively consistent and predictable timeline even for chronic meth abusers. This helps rehab centers and medical professionals know what to expect when helping recovering meth abusers.

Typically, withdrawal symptoms will begin to manifest roughly 10 hours after cessation, reaching its peak at 7 to 10 days, with the average overall duration covering around 14 to 20 days.

Most methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms are psychological and emotional, though there are several physical symptoms that are fairly common. Methamphetamine detox also tends to be less severe than alcohol of opioid detox processes.

 

Methamphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive sleepiness (common when dealing with stimulant detoxes)
  • Increased appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Shaking
  • Jitteriness
  • Dry mouth
  • Depression
  • Apathy
  • Hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Extreme meth cravings (usually decline or fade away quickly compared to other symptoms)

Some psychotic symptoms can also occur, including paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations. Due to the potential risk of harming themselves and others, if these symptoms manifest in a methamphetamine detox patient, they need to be treated by medical professionals immediately.

 

Marijuana Detox Withdrawal Symptoms

Even though marijuana is generally considered a less severe drug to abuse, addiction is an equal-opportunity health concern. Anyone addicted to marijuana or with heavy usage habits will likely suffer some very uncomfortable withdrawal side effects if they don’t detox safely, preferably under the watch of a healthcare professional.

Marijuana detox can be painful, since there are physical symptoms as well as psychological effects caused by detoxing from the drug.

 

Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Chills
  • Shakiness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Excessive sweating
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Stomach pains
  • Other aches and pains

Nicotine and Tobacco Detox Withdrawal Symptoms

Over 38 million people in the United States successfully quit smoking each year, but overall there are still roughly 50 million Americans addicted to some kind of tobacco product. And despite public smoking laws cracking down on nicotine and tobacco exposure in the last decade or so, like alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco products tend to be intertwined with various social engagements which can make the difficult to avoid if you’re trying to overcome an addiction.

When going through nicotine detox or tobacco detox, symptoms will usually manifest a few hours after your last instance of tobacco use and intensify or peak about 3 days later. Unfortunately, withdrawal symptoms for tobacco products can be highly psychological, meaning they can increase, mimic, or worsen the symptoms of existing psychiatric ailments.

 

Tobacco and Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Intense cravings for nicotine/tobacco
  • Tingling sensations in the hands and feet
  • Cold and Flu-like symptoms
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Weight gain
  • Restlessness
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Excessive sweating
  • Gastrointestinal issues (constipation, gas, etc.)
  • Insomnia or fatigue
  • Lack of focus
  • Headache
  • Increased appetite
  • Irritability

 

Are You Ready to Take Your First Steps Towards Recovery?

Addiction Treatment Services can help you find the drug and alcohol detox program and addiction treatment you need ASAP. One of our helpful service representatives will conduct your complimentary insurance review and match you with a reputable rehab center that can provide the treatment you need. Our service specialists are available 24/7 for your convenience, so call us now to take the first step towards your addiction recovery.