Heroin Addiction and Treatment
1-800-559-9503 | April 10th
Heroin is an illegal drug that's made from morphine and abused by many drug users around the world. There are people in all age groups in need of treatment for heroin dependency because of the drugs powerful addictive potential. Most of the time heroin is found in a white or brown powder form but can also be found as black tar heroin which is a sticky black substance. Today heroin is more potent than before and sometimes contains toxic additives that make the already serious consequences of heroin use worse.
There are several ways heroin is abused by the user, some people inject it while others either snort or smoke it. When a heroin user injects the drug with a needle, heroin goes straight into the user's bloodstream. Sniffing or snorting heroin is done through the user's nose. Heroin is then absorbed through the user's nasal tissue which is the fleshy parts inside their nose. When a heroin user smokes the illegal drug the vapors go directly into their lungs. No matter how heroin is abused it's extremely addictive and leads to very serious health issues.
When an individual uses heroin it turns into morphine when it gets into their brain. Heroin then affects important areas of the brain that are responsible for pain and pleasure. Heroin also affects areas that are essential for life, breathing and blood pressure. This is extremely dangerous for individuals that overdose on heroin because it dangerously affects their breathing which becomes suppressed and can lead to death.
There are very serious and dangers consequences associated with heroin use. If a person is a chronic user of heroin they become physically dependent on the drug. Chronic heroin users experience major withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug. It really depends on the person when it comes to withdrawal symptoms. The users health, duration of heroin use and how heavily heroin was used all determines the withdrawal symptoms a heroin user may experience. Chronic Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms can include:
- Severe cravings for heroin
- Agitation and restlessness
- Pain in their bones and muscles
- Sleeplessness or insomnia
- Vomiting and nausea
- Cold chills including goose bumps
- Kicking type movements
If a heroin user is in bad health withdrawal symptoms are much more dangerous, in some cases this has led to death. Chronic heroin users should never attempt to detox on their own without medical supervision. Many heroin users think detoxing from heroin means recovery but this is far from the truth. Detoxification which includes the withdrawal symptoms just rids the body of the drug but isn't treatment or recovery. Many areas need to be addressed in order to fully recover from heroin addiction and without the proper treatment program for each individual user, relapse is most always inevitable.
Long term or chronic heroin users as well as other drugs of abuse are in need of intense therapeutic treatment as well as medications to help the heroin user prevent relapse. With the proper medication and individualized treatment program heroin users can look forward to a long term successful recovery from heroin addiction. Some long term chronic users are in need of residential inpatient heroin treatment in order to maintain abstinence and work toward their recovery. Less intense heroin users do well with intense outpatient treatment that includes medication therapy like methadone, buprenorphine and suboxone.
Methadone is a man-made opiate medication that's used in methadone maintenance for heroin addiction. Methadone can be addictive so a patient needs to be under medical supervision when taking this drug for heroin maintenance treatment. Some heroin users seek methadone on the streets attempting to treat themselves but this doesn't work. Treatment programs that offer methadone maintenance for heroin addiction make sure the dose prescribed is right for that person. Methadone that's obtained on the streets may also contain other drugs or chemicals that you're unaware of. Along with methadone maintenance therapy the individual working toward recovery also needs counseling and behavioral therapy during treatment. Some heroin users also require medical or psychological help while working toward recovery from heroin addiction.
Buprenorphine is another drug that's been approved for treating heroin addiction. Buprenorphine is less addictive than methadone and the risk of overdose is much lower. Buprenorphine can also be prescribed in a doctor's office which makes it much easier for heroin users to seek treatment. Some patients don't respond to buprenorphine the way others do and they may need to use methadone treatment instead.
Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone for treating heroin addiction. Naloxone alone is generally used for treating opioid overdose cases. Suboxone should only be used when prescribed by a doctor or authorized drug treatment center. Using drugs like suboxone bought off the streets is equally as dangerous as any other street drug.
Heroin is still readily available on the streets and more dangerous than ever before because of the potency level today. Street heroin quite often contains very toxic additives which can clog up a person's blood vessels that lead to vital organs. Using heroin is associated with many dangerous and harmful health effects and consequences which can include:
- Shallow breathing
- Damage to lungs, liver, kidneys, brain or other vital organs