Heroin Addiction Treatment
Heroin addiction is a virulent disease that claims thousands of lives every year. And it destroys the lives of thousands more every year often permanently. And as more and more people see heroin as a way to cope with problems, or as an escape from them, the situation is growing worse.
What is Heroin?
Heroin is an opiate drug that, like opium, is derived from the poppy plant. It is a very strong pain-relieving drug that produced euphoric effects. Although similar drugs (such as morphine and oxycodone) are pharmaceutical drugs used by physicians to treat severe pain, heroin is a drug that is illicitly manufactured and sold. Produced in make-shift laboratories, the purity of heroin is a major concern in regards to the risks of using this drug.
Heroin is usually sold as a brownish powder or crystal. It may be crushed and snorted, smoked, or melted and intravenously injected. There are severe risks associated with heroin use, including addiction and overdose.
Is Heroin Addictive?
Is heroin addictive? Yes!
Is recovery possible? Yes, but it’s not easy.
Many people have achieved temporary recovery, but have often relapsed. Why is that? Why is overcoming heroin addiction so difficult?
Why is Heroin Addictive?
We know that heroin is addictive, both physically and mentally. There are many reasons why heroin is addictive, but it is mostly tied to the mechanism in which heroin and other opioids function.
Research shows that heroin hijacks the brain re-wiring it to think of heroin as an essential chemical. Heroin enters the brain rapidly and it binds to opioid receptors there, especially those controlling feelings of pain and pleasure, heart rate, sleeping, and breathing.
In short, it feels “good” when consumed and when you stop using it you may feel bad.
Effects of Heroin on the Body
Heroin works in the same way as other opioids. It increases the amount of dopamine released to the limbic reward system the part of the brain that feels pleasure. Users typically report a surge of pleasurable sensation – a “rush.” The intensity of the rush depends not only on the amount taken but also on the speed with which the drug binds to the opioid receptors.
The Risks of Consuming Heroin
Repeated heroin use changes both the structure and the physiology of the brain, creating long-term imbalances in neuronal and hormonal systems that are not easily reversed. Some studies have shown deterioration of the brain’s white matter, which may affect your decision-making, your ability to regulate behavior, and your responses to stressful situations. Heroin use tends to produce increasing tolerance to the drug which means you need more and more to feel the rush. And, eventually, it produces physical dependence.
After the high wears off, withdrawal may occur within a few hours. When that happens, the victim may feel extreme restlessness, pain in the muscles and bones, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goosebumps (“cold turkey”), and involuntary leg movements.
Major withdrawal symptoms may develop, however, generally don’t peak until 24-48 hours after the last dose, and can take a week to subside. However, some people suffer from withdrawal symptoms for months on end.
Heroin Use Disorder
Heroin is extremely addictive no matter how it’s taken. But methods that speed its trip to the brain (injection and smoking) increase the risk of heroin-use disorder. Once a person is addicted, searching for more of the drug often becomes the primary purpose in life. Finally, repeated heroin use often results in what’s called a heroin-use disorder. This is a chronic disease that goes beyond mere physical dependence and is characterized by frequent relapses and uncontrollable desires for more no matter the consequences.
The greatest risk of heroin use and heroin addiction is death through overdose. Death is not only a severe risk but a likely one because heroin sedates you stopping you from coughing if you need to. When would you need to? Well, if you throw up, and you can’t cough to clear your throat, you won’t be able to breathe. And you may have only minutes to live.
Would you know how to identify the signs of an overdose and what to do if it were happening right in front of you?
What Are the Immediate (Short-Term) Effects?
Whether heroin is injected, snorted, or smoked, the user experiences an immediate “rush” followed by a feeling of euphoria as it is converted back to morphine in the brain. The only difference is the user experiences the rush more quickly if the heroin is injected or snorted than he does if the drug is smoked. The high is not only quicker, but it is also more intense.
Immediate effects may include:
- A rush of pleasure and euphoria
- A reduction in feelings of pain
- Warm flushing of the skin
- Dry mouth
- A heavy feeling in the extremities
- Severe itching
Once the initial effects of heroin use begin to wear off, the following may occur:
- Cloudy mental function
- Slowed heartbeat
- Slowed breathing
What Are the Long-Term Effects?
Heroin users quickly build up a tolerance to the drug, meaning that they need more of it or need it more often to achieve the same effect that they felt when they first used it. Consequently, with the increased usage, they can become addicted very quickly. Heroin also can cause physical and physiological changes and imbalances in the brain that are very difficult to reverse, even when the user gets clean and sober.
Long term effects of Heroin Use Include:
- Reduced immune health
- Increased risk of communicable diseases
What Are the Medical Complications of Chronic Use?
Because heroin use depresses respiration, many users develop lung complications, which along with the general poor health of the user can result in contracting tuberculosis and some types of pneumonia. There are many other negative medical consequences due to use of the drug itself and others related to how heroin is used and other substances mixed with the drug to increase the profits of dealers.
Learn More About Our Other Levels of Care
Are you or your loved one suffering from the negative consequences of alcohol or drug addiction?
Call our office and our caring and professional staff will help you get started on your Road To Recovery. We provide both addiction treatment and housing services and help individuals and families take the first step toward recovery from addiction.
Road to Recovery Wellness Center
412 SE 6th ST.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301