What is Heroin?
Heroin can be a white or brown powder or a black sticky substance known as black tar heroin. This opioid drug is highly addictive because the excessive use of heroin often develops a tolerance. In other words, users will need higher and/or more frequent drug doses to get the desired effects. With those effects in mind, a substance use disorder (SUD) may develop when you suffer from Heroin addiction.
It is when continued drug use causes issues, such as health problems and failure to meet responsibilities at work, school, or home. In this case, a range of treatments are effective in helping people stop heroin use. However, heroin addiction treatment plans should be individualized to meet the patient’s needs.
Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance taken from the seed pod of the various opium poppy plants grown in Southeast and Southwest Asia and Mexico.
How Do People Use Heroin?
Users may inject, sniff, snort, or smoke heroin, for instance. Some people mix heroin with crack cocaine, a practice called speedballing. And then, they typically report feeling a surge of pleasurable sensation—a “rush.”
What are the Effects of Heroin Addiction?
Nausea, vomiting, and severe itching may also occur due to Heroin addiction. After the initial effects, users usually will be drowsy for several hours. And the mental function is clouded. heart function slows, and breathing is also severely slowed, sometimes enough to be life-threatening. Slowed breathing can also lead to coma and permanent brain damage.
The long-term effects of Heroin addiction are:
- Collapsed veins for people who inject the drug
- Damaged tissue inside the nose for people who sniff or snort it
- Infection of the heart lining and valves
- Abscesses (swollen tissue filled with pus)
- Constipation and stomach cramping
- Liver and kidney disease
- Lung complications, including pneumonia
- Mental disorders such as depression and antisocial personality disorder
- Sexual dysfunction for men
- Irregular menstrual cycles for women
- People who inject drugs such as heroin are at high risk of contracting the HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) virus
The short-term effects of Heroin addiction are:
- Dry mouth
- Warm flushing of the skin
- Heavy feeling in the arms and legs
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe itching
- Clouded mental functioning
- Going “on the nod,” a back-and-forth state of being conscious and semiconscious
Why is Heroin Addictive?
Heroin is a highly addictive drug. That’s because people who regularly use heroin often develop a tolerance, which means that they need higher and/or more frequent doses of the drug to get the desired effects. A substance use disorder (SUD) is when continued use of the drug causes issues, such as health problems and failure to meet responsibilities at work, school, or home. A SUD can range from mild to severe, the most severe form being addiction.
Heroin Addiction Detox and Withdrawal
As stated by The National Institute on Drug Abuse, in the piece ‘Heroin DrugFacts’, Those who suffer from Heroin Addiction and stop using the drug abruptly may have severe withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms, which can begin as early as a few hours after the drug was last taken, include:
- Severe muscle and bone pain
- Sleep problems
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Cold flashes with goosebumps (‘Cold turkey’)
- Uncontrollable leg movements (‘Kicking the habit’)
- Severe heroin cravings
Recent research has shown that “major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose of heroin and subside after about a week. At this time, weakness and depression are pronounced and nausea and vomiting are common. Nevertheless, some chronic addicts have shown persistent withdrawal signs for many months or even years. Heroin Addiction is considered as a behavioral state of compulsive drug use and a high tendency to relapse after periods of abstinence.
Researchers are studying the long-term effects of opioid addiction on the brain. Studies have shown some loss of the brain’s white matter associated with heroin use, which may affect decision-making, behavior control, and responses to stressful situations.
Causes and Risk Factors for Heroin Addiction
Heroin is an opioid, and it binds to receptors in the brain to release the chemical dopamine. But, this release is only temporary which leaves some people wanting more of the “good” feeling.
Data from 2011 also showed that an estimated 4 to 6 percent who misuse prescription opioids—a broad group of pain-relieving drugs—switch to heroin and about 80 percent of people who used heroin first misused prescription opioids. Moreover, these prescription opioid pain medicines may include OxyContin® and Vicodin®.
The misuse of prescription opioids sometimes begins with legal drugs like painkillers that are prescribed after a surgery or some other injury. If you become addicted to these prescribed medications and cannot obtain them anymore, you may pursue illegal drugs like heroin to achieve the same pleasurable feeling. Therefore, anyone who takes opioids can be at risk for developing an opioid use disorder or an addiction to heroin.
In addition, addiction is multifaceted and can happen to anyone. It can include genetic, psychological, and environmental factors. Other risk factors are:
- Drug availability
- Drug trafficking patterns
- Association with drug-abusing peers
- Beliefs that drug abuse can be tolerated
Signs of Heroin Addiction
The physical symptoms of heroin use occur rapidly. After injecting it, someone will experience drug-induced euphoria quickly, often within seconds. Other means of using heroin don’t produce a reaction as quickly, but users show signs of being high when the drug reaches their brain.
Physical symptoms of heroin addiction include:
- Dry mouth
- Flushed skin
- Constricted pupils
- Falling asleep suddenly
- Slow breathing
- Loss of self-control
Other symptoms of heroin addiction include:
- Feelings of heaviness
- Confused thinking or disorientation
- Difficulty making decisions
- Memory loss
People who use heroin regularly often need laxatives or stool softeners because the drug can cause constipation.
Heroin overdoses have been rising sharply in the United States over the last several years. In 2015, over 13,000 people died of heroin overdoses in the United States. Heroin is sold illegally, so there is no control over the quality or strength of the drug. Also, it is sometimes mixed with other poisonous substances.
Most people who overdose are already addicted, but some people overdose the very first time they try it. Many people who use heroin also abuse prescription pain medicines and other drugs. They may also abuse alcohol. These combinations of substances can be very dangerous. Heroin use in the United States has been growing since 2007.
There has also been a change in the demographics of heroin use. It is now believed that addiction to prescription opioid painkillers is the gateway to heroin use for many people. This is because the street price of heroin is often cheaper than that of prescription opioids.
Heroin Overdose Symptoms
A heroin overdose occurs when a person uses enough of the drug to produce a life-threatening reaction or death. Heroin overdoses have increased in recent years.
When people overdose on heroin, their breathing often slows or stops. This can decrease the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain, a condition called hypoxia. Hypoxia can have short- and long-term mental effects and effects on the nervous system, including coma and permanent brain damage.
Heroin Overdose Treatment
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there’s a specific medicine called Naloxone that can save the life of someone who’s overdosing. Naloxone is a medicine that can treat an opioid overdose when given right away. It works by rapidly binding to opioid receptors and blocking the effects of heroin and other opioid drugs. Sometimes more than one dose may be needed to help a person start breathing again, which is why it’s important to get the person to an emergency department or a doctor to receive additional support if needed.
Naloxone is available as an injectable (needle) solution and nasal sprays (NARCAN® Nasal Spray and KLOXXADO®). Friends, family, and others in the community can use the nasal spray versions of naloxone to save someone who is overdosing. The rising number of opioid overdose deaths has led to an increase in public health efforts to make Naloxone available to at-risk persons and their families, as well as first responders and others in the community. Some states have passed laws that allow pharmacists to dispense naloxone without a prescription from a person’s personal doctor.
Heroin Addiction Treatment
If you are addicted to drugs such as heroin, your very first step in recovery should be to medical detox in a safe and supervised setting. That is why We Level Up is here for you. We Level Up Washington detox center medically assist clients to clear their systems of addictive substances, such as heroin.
For anyone who suffers from heroin addiction, we know that just the thought of having to stop using can cause severe mental distress. Given that, the medical detox center will help you manage the medical detox process. A comprehensive team prescribing medications can alleviate your withdrawal pains while monitoring your health 24 hours. Assuring both your safety and comfort.
At We Level Up WA, our thorough approach to rehabilitation supports several levels of care to ensure the best possible outcome for every patient who enters our doors. From an intensive and more supportive atmosphere for those in the early days of recovery to a comfortable residential-style living dynamic upon completion of detox, we are here to help guide you down the safe and results-based path to your sobriety.
Once detox is complete, a new doorway in treatment opens up, which is referred to as a residential level of care. Here, our residential care program slowly and effectively introduces the individual into an atmosphere of therapeutic growth, marked by Master’s level therapists, clinicians, group counselors, psychiatrists, and a community of like-minded individuals with the same aim: to attain sobriety and live a great life.
Some of the many modalities applied and practiced within our residential treatment facility are:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- 12-Step Groups
- Group Therapy
- Alumni Support
- Holistic Therapy
Moreover, here at We Level Up WA Addiction Treatment the needs of each patient are specific and personalized, as we aim to provide comprehensive support for mental health, addiction, and dual diagnosis treatment.
Patients in our residential therapy programs will live comfortably within the facility during this crucial and fragile time. Indeed, this supportive environment is designed to give clients 24-hour care for sobriety, removing temptations for relapse and applying an air of recovery into every component of the treatment timeline, including heroin addiction treatment. At We Level Up WA, we find that when patients are living in a supportive community, especially during their early recovery process, they are able to truly focus on what matters most: their recovery.
Reclaim your life from Heroin Addiction
Heroin Addiction is a severe condition that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up Washington Center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from co-occurring mental health disorders associated with Heroin addiction with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.
We Level Up Washington Mental Health Center: Primary Mental Health Treatment with Secondary Co-Occurring Treatments
The We Level Up Washington primary mental health center stands ready to help. Offering secondary treatment programs for underlying conditions like Heroin addiction that frequently fuels harmful behaviors. Taking that first step to get the professional support you need can be life-transforming.
We know how mental health disorders and secondary co-occurring substance abuse diagnoses directly affect one another. The We Level Up Washington treatment center provides recovery programs through science-based mental health treatments that can help you feel better. Call us now for a free mental health evaluation!
Inpatient medical detox and residential primary addiction treatment may be available at affiliated facilities at other We Level Up Treatment Centers locations beyond the Washington treatment facility.