Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Approximately 23 percent of those who use heroin will become dependent. This is because, within minutes, the brain starts changing. When people continue using heroin, it quickly turns to heroin use disorder or heroin addiction. Stopping heroin can be extremely dangerous. Programs like heroin detox and inpatient treatment can safely treat heroin addiction. 

What is Heroin?

Heroin comes from red poppy plants, and each flower contains a sticky substance. The substance is removed, cooked, and processed into opiates. The most common opiate is heroin. 

Heroin is extremely addictive. The brain has tailor-made receptors that respond to chemicals in the drug. The path to heroin use disorder begins with the first hit. Furthermore, people can snort, swallow, or inject heroin. 

Heroin is also known as junk, smack, or “H.” Street heroin is very dangerous as it can also contain morphine or fentanyl. Almost 4 million Americans have used heroin at least once. Symptoms of heroin use can include severe itchiness, depression, and collapsing veins. 

Effects of Heroin

People who use heroin describe the high as an intense feeling of well-being. When heroin is injected, the drug hits the brain quickly; it feels like a “rush.” The high from heroin lasts four to five hours. 

The effects of heroin include:

Some people find the effects of heroin harmless. Although heroin can make people drowsy or dizzy, they find it enjoyable. Unlike alcohol, heroin generally doesn’t give new users a hangover or comedown feelings. 

But, the “harmless” occasional use can quickly turn to a heroin use disorder. Because tolerance to heroin happens quickly, people need the drug to feel normal. Furthermore, the more a person uses, the higher the risk a fatal overdose. 

Signs of a heroin overdose include:

Signs of Heroin Use Disorder

One of the most dangerous drugs available is heroin. People don’t use heroin intending to get an addiction. But, after continuing to use heroin, people develop heroin use disorder. 

People with heroin use disorder are good at hiding their addiction. This can make it challenging for others to detect. But, some signs of heroin addiction include:

Dangers of Heroin

Most people know how addictive and dangerous heroin is. It has short and long-term effects, as well as risks that can be life-threatening.  Such as the dangers of contacting viruses from sharing needles. 

Blood-bourne viruses such as HIV and hepatitis are a risk from sharing needles and risky sexual behaviors. Heroin can also cause spontaneous abortions in women with heroin use disorder. At the same time, people with mental health issues and heroin addiction are at an increased risk of suicide. 

Other symptoms of heroin use disorder include:

The longer someone uses heroin, the worse the side effects are. Also, the more destruction it causes to internal organs and the immune system. Heroin addiction increases the risk of catching diseases and causes heart, liver, and lung disease. Also, nonfatal overdoses can cause permanent brain damage.

Recognizing Heroin Use Disorder

The more symptoms a person has, the more severe their heroin addiction. Eleven signs indicative of heroin addiction are:

  1. Heroin is often taken longer than intended. 
  2. There is a desire to control the use of heroin, but it’s been unsuccessful.
  3. A large amount of time is spent obtaining, using, and recovering from heroin. 
  4. A strong desire or cravings to use.
  5. Heroin use affects work, school, or home. 
  6. Continuing heroin use despite the consequences. 
  7. Lack of desire for social activities.
  8. Heroin use is causing risky behaviors.
  9. Continuing use after knowing its causing mental and physical issues
  10. Having an increased tolerance.
  11. Using heroin to avoid withdrawal symptoms. 

Many treatment options are available to help people overcome their heroin addiction. As a result, thousands of people find recovery every year.

Intervention for Heroin Addiction

When a person has heroin use disorder, they can be reluctant to seek treatment. Maybe it’s because they don’t feel they need help. And sometimes, it’s because they have tried to quit and failed. Either way, some people need an intervention to convince them to get help. 

Withdrawal and Heroin Detox

Heroin addiction is characterized by the dependence that develops with misuse. This dependence is physical and mental. The factors of physical dependence include withdrawal symptoms and an increasing need to use more. 

Unlike drugs like cocaine and marijuana, heroin addiction withdrawal can be painful. Symptoms from heroin withdrawal can appear within two hours of last use. Heroin withdrawal can also cause psychological symptoms, including depression.

Common heroin withdrawal symptoms:

Withdrawal symptoms usually last about a week. However, Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS) can last for many months. To safely withdrawal from heroin, it is vital to attend a heroin detox program. Treatment centers use medicines to ease discomfort. Therapists help people in heroin detox transition into residential treatment. To be successful in recovery, chronic care is needed. 

Medications in Heroin Detox

Detox programs can prescribe medicine to ease withdrawal symptoms. The following medications help reduce symptoms and cravings in heroin detox. 

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Withdrawal from heroin makes staying clean hard. But, people can beat heroin use disorder. Treatment centers offer inpatient and outpatient programs to treat heroin addiction. 

Outpatient treatment requires people to meet regularly with doctors and therapists. But people can stay in their homes and handle their responsibilities. Unfortunately, the odds of relapse in outpatient treatment are high.

While inpatient treatment involves 24-hour supervision in a treatment center, Inpatient treatment increases the odds of Recovery for Life. 

Inpatient Treatment for Heroin Use Disorder

Treating heroin addiction generally involves medications, therapy, and support groups. Because of the severe dependence on heroin, inpatient treatment offers the best chance at recovery. So after completing detox, people transition into residential or inpatient care. 

Therapy is a significant factor in treating heroin addiction. Treatments can include cognitive-behavioral therapy and holistic therapies. In therapy, people work through underlying thoughts and behaviors, leading to addiction. Also, therapy can diagnose and treat any co-occurring disorders like depression, also known as dual diagnosis. 

Inpatient treatment takes the outside world out of the equation. Social factors play a huge part in relapse. But, inpatient treatment allows people to focus on their recovery without triggers and influences. 

In treatment, people have a structured routine of therapy, support groups, and activities. But, each center may offer different activities. Some may focus on exercise and physical health. And others may focus on meditation and spiritual healing. 

Treatment for heroin use disorder doesn’t heal the disorder. Addiction is a chronic, life-long disease. As a result, it needs chronic lifelong care. People are encouraged to continue into a partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, or outpatient program. 

Chronic Care and Relapse Prevention of Heroin Use Disorder

After treatment for heroin use disorder, ongoing treatment is crucial. Regular sessions with a therapist help those in recovery continue working on their personal life. Life-long care allows therapists to notice when a person may need a little extra help. 

Chronic care allows people also to continue medicines keeping symptoms at bay. Due to the withdrawal symptoms of medications that treat heroin addiction, medications will be tapered off without a guarantee of chronic care. 

Support groups like Narcotic Anonymous (NA) offer support for those on recovery. Because recovery requires people to change unhealthy friends and hangout places, NA offers new friends and fun activities with others in recovery. 

Preventing a Heroin Relapse

Chronic lifelong treatment is crucial to preventing relapse. But, if a person relapses, it doesn’t mean they failed. However, it does mean therapy of some sort is needed. Stress is a common trigger of relapse in heroin addiction. Chronic care helps manage and recognize stressors and increase Recovery for Life. 

Tips for preventing relapse include:

Finding Recovery for Life at Sana Lake BWC

The average person with heroin addiction spends almost $200 a day on their habit. Spending it on recovery is a better use of money. Heroin is a powerful drug, but you are stronger and can find the joys of recovery.

At Sana Lake BWC, we believe in the “whole person” approach to treatment. We use a combination of alternative and holistic therapies to promote Recovery for LIfe. If you or a loved one is battling heroin addiction, we are waiting to help. Contact us today and find out how you can find Recovery for Life!

References:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction

https://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/practice-support/guidelines-and-consensus-docs/asam-national-practice-guideline-supplement.pdf

https://medlineplus.gov/heroin.html