Heroin, an opioid derivative, is a drug that has led to addiction for countless people in the United States – and the world – for decades. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2008 heroin and other opiates made up the largest percentage of admissions to rehabilitation clinics for drug-related issues. An increasing number of heroin users are seeking the illegal drug to replace their use of prescription pain medications because heroin is much cheaper, and often easier to obtain. This has led to even higher levels of heroin addiction across the country.
Most health professionals consider heroin to be one of the most addictive substances on the streets, which explains why so many people struggle with it. Fortunately, drug rehabilitation programs can provide an effective way out of heroin addiction. With commitment and the right treatment, you can learn to lead a life without this harmful opiate.
What is Heroin?
The Asian opium poppy plant produces pods that contain opium, a drug which has been used for thousands of years for pain relief and for recreation. From the beginning, humans have had a problem with opium addiction and addiction to its various derivatives. Heroin is made from the opium-based drug morphine. In fact, heroin turns into morphine once it is processed by the body.
The forms of heroin found on the street can vary based on purity, the way the drug was processed and any additives, referred to as “cuts”, added after the drug was made. Heroin usually comes in a powder form, either brown or white in color. It is also sometimes made into a sticky black material, which is called black tar heroin.
How is Heroin Used?
Users administer heroin using a variety of methods, including snorting it, injecting it and smoking it. The way people use the drug depends on a number of factors, including their familiarity with the substance, the purity of the heroin they are using and whether they are mixing it with other drugs, such as crack cocaine.
Effects Of Heroin On The Body
The brain has natural opioid receptors and produces its own opioids that produce pleasant feelings. When heroin enters the body, it attaches to these receptors and overloads them. While some people may find the sensation unpleasant, those that enjoy using heroin or are addicted to it find the sensation extremely pleasurable. The rush, euphoria and general good feelings are the reason why users go back for more.
Although heroin can make the user feel good, there are many negative effects that quickly grow to make continued use dangerous, unhealthy and problematic. Negative effects include:
- Disruption of Normal Brain Function – When heroin fills the opioid receptors of the brain repeatedly, the brain halts its production of the feel-good chemicals in your brain. The result is that the user will struggle to feel good unless he or she is using heroin. While it is easy for some to dismiss the need to “feel good”, in reality, the lack of proper brain function can cause severe disruption in the life of the user. The lack of positive feelings can also make it extremely hard to quit on their own.
- Health Issues – Numerous health complications can arise from frequent and long-term heroin use, including collapsed veins, abscesses, liver disease, lung complications, constipation, infection of the heart lining and more. There are usually cuts made to the heroin that includes other dangerous substances that can lead to symptoms like clogged veins that provide blood supply to vital organs.
- HIV Transmission – Sharing needles for heroin injection puts the user at risk of contracting a number of diseases, including HIV and hepatitis. While clean needle programs are available in some areas, there is no guarantee that when an individual really wants to use heroin that he or she will choose a clean needle.
Rehab Treatment Options For Heroin Addiction
Because heroin is so addictive, recovery can often be a long and hard road. However, it is important to remember that no matter how difficult recovery may be, it is far better than the alternative. Continued heroin addiction is a sure path to health problems and a difficult, and sometimes short, life.
Some of the most effective heroin treatments include:
- Medically Assisted Detoxification – Quitting heroin cold turkey can be not only uncomfortable, but also quite painful. Quitting is much safer and more approachable if you have help from a medical professional when you start to withdraw from the drug. With medically assisted detox, you are monitored by someone who can administer medications to help you withdraw safely and with much less discomfort.
Remember, detox is not enough to get clean. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, patients who do not go through any further treatment after detox usually relapse.
- Inpatient Treatment – Heroin is one of the more difficult drugs to quit, which makes inpatient treatment the recommended option for many people. With inpatient care, you can stay at a treatment facility for a specific period of time – often 30 or 45 days – to avoid exposure to heroin and learn ways to avoid using in the future.
- Outpatient Treatment – Outpatient treatment can help you avoid relapsing by ensuring you get treatment on a regular basis. By going to outpatient therapy, either group, individual or both, you get the support you need to avoid heroin in the future.
Contact Us to Begin Your Rehab Journey
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