Heroin is one of the most addictive substances on the planet. The drug itself is made from the Asian poppy plant though it is readily available throughout the United States to those who seek it. It is typically injected with a needle though it can be snorted through the nose or smoked. The idea is that doing these things allows the affects of the drug to reach the brain quickly.
Unfortunately, the “high” isn’t the only problem that goes along with heroin addiction. In fact, the severe long and short-term health issues associated with heroin are just as problematic as the risks of overdosing on the drug. Some of the major health problems1 associated with heroin use include:
- Heart infections
- Collapsed veins
- Lung problems
- Sexual dysfunction in men
- Mental disorders
- Liver and kidney disease
When seeking treatment for heroin addiction, it is important to work with a treatment center that addresses not only the psychological and emotional aspects of addiction, but also the devastating health consequences as well.
The unfortunate reality is that many Americans find their way to using heroin due to dependencies on prescription opioids, such as Vicodin and OxyContin. In fact, 80 percent of those who use heroin used these other drugs before moving on to heroin1. As a result, the responses to the problems of heroin and prescription drugs, such as opioids, have been intertwined in many treatment programs, public initiatives to address the growing health problems, and prevention efforts.
The Incredible Addictiveness of Heroin
Part of the appeal of heroin is the euphoric rush associated with use of the drug. For some people, they are hooked from the first high. Unfortunately, it rarely takes long for the negative effects of short-term heroin use to kick in. These include side effects, such as:
- Extreme itchiness
- Dry mouth
- Brain fog
- “Nodding” (refers to a trancelike state people enter into for many hours after the heroin enters the brain)
If you notice these signs in yourself or people you love and suspect heroin use, intervene as quickly as you can by encouraging them to get help for their addiction. The costs of delaying could be more than anyone is willing to pay and the consequences can be deadly serious.
People who regularly use heroin require greater amounts and more frequent dosing in order to achieve the same euphoric experience, which is the desired effect for most users. Long-term use of heroin can cause a wide range of problems with health, job performance, academic achievement, and family and interpersonal relationships.
Of course, none of these things diminish the incredible risk of overdose for heroin users, especially those who mix heroin with other drugs, like opioids.
How big is the problem?
In 2018, heroin was involved in nearly 15,000 overdose deaths in the United States. To put it into perspective, that is five deaths for every 100,000 Americans2. Heroin has also been identified as one of the most important drug issues affecting both urban and rural areas throughout the country3.
This determination occurred only after it was noted that heroin use had moved from a problem affecting large urban areas almost exclusively to one that affected suburbs and rural communities as well. On a more positive note, the number of people between the ages of 18 and 25 seeking treatment for heroin use and addiction increased dramatically between 2008 and 2012 – from 11 percent to 26 percent3. While it is certainly disturbing that heroin addictions are this prevalent, the fact that people are reaching out for treatment is a silver lining in a very dark cloud.
Because heroin is so addictive and so potentially deadly, it is important for people who believe they may have a dependence on the drug to seek help as quickly as possible and as often as necessary. There is no need to suffer the worst of your withdrawal symptoms on your own – especially when there are so many options available to help ease you through the process.
Dependence, Addiction, Withdrawal, and When You Need Treatment
As discussed above, part of the problem with dependence on heroin involves the law of diminishing returns. As people become accustomed to using the drug, their bodies require more and more of the drug to provide the desired outcome.
With prolonged use, or at the very least, consistent use over a sustained timeframe, it is quite likely you’ve developed a heroin dependence. That means that your brain has adjusted to regular “doses” of the drug and requires a certain amount in its system. If you stop taking heroin for some reason, you are likely to experience harsh withdrawal symptoms.
The combination of needing steady supplies of heroin combined with the increasing dosage requirements to recreate the high is especially problematic for multiple reasons, including:
- Greater risks of overdosing.
- Rapid progression from snorting or smoking to injecting, which is far riskier.
- Increased risk of skin infections, heart problems, blood-borne illnesses, and other health consequences.
- Greater risk of life-threatening withdrawal symptoms should they attempt to quit without medical assistance.
Ultimately, the more you use heroin, the greater you need to continue using heroin becomes. As that occurs, the risks to your health, relationships, finances, and your life increase as well. Getting help from a qualified treatment center that offers patient-focused holistic addiction treatment options can change the course of a life.
When do you need treatment for heroin dependence?
If you experience the following symptoms after going a long time between “fixes” then you may be experiencing early withdrawal symptoms, indicating you need help in overcome your dependence on the drug. Symptoms include:
- Increased tearing of the eyes.
- Muscle aches.
- Runny nose.
- Sore muscles.
- Inability to sleep.
While unpleasant, to say the least, these are mild symptoms associated with heroin withdrawals. Some of the more severe symptoms may indicate a more immediate need for assistance. They include:
- Abdominal cramping
- Pupil dilation
While these symptoms by themselves are not necessarily life threatening, without medically supervised detoxification, they can prove fatal – and have in the past.
Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Heroin Addiction
When it comes to heroin addiction treatment, medication assisted treatment helps patient with some of the more unpleasant withdrawal symptoms while they go through the detoxification process. Fortunately, it is a relatively short process when it comes to getting rid of the heroin remaining in your body and dealing with the worst of the withdrawal symptoms.
Even better, there are many different medications that can be used to help address the patient’s needs as he or she goes through the withdrawal process. In the event of severe withdrawal symptoms, the best course of action may be to go through the process at a hospital, though many drug treatment centers, like Harmony Place offer facilities designed to provide medication assisted treatment for heroin addiction withdrawals. Depending on each patient’s unique situation and treatment needs any of these heroin withdrawal medications4 may be used:
Unfortunately, we’ve all learned that medication alone is rarely enough to stay the course and assist people in overcoming heroin addictions. This why seeking help from a qualified treatment center, like Harmony Place is your best choice for long-term rehabilitation and sobriety.
Do you need heroin addiction treatment?
The odds are good that if you’re entertaining the thought, you’ve had some degree of difficulty putting the drug down and walking away for good. Seeking help to overcome addiction isn’t a sign of weakness. Addiction is a health condition that millions of Americans have in common.
Most people wouldn’t think twice about seeking medical treatment for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and countless other health conditions. It should be no different when it comes to seeking medical help to treat your addiction.
Harmony Place is proud to offer a wide range of holistic treatment options from compassionate staff members who understand the physical and psychological challenges of effectively treating heroin and other opioid addictions.
Types of Heroin Addiction Treatment
There are many different types of heroin addiction treatments available. Some are more effective than others. At Harmony Place, we believe the most effective treatment for heroin addiction involves a combination of residential drug addiction treatment and medication assisted treatment followed up with varying degrees of outpatient treatment methods depending on your circumstances.
Of course, we understand that not everyone has the means, the time, or the availability to enter into full residential treatment programs. That is why we work with each individual patient to address their needs and see if we can be of assistance on an outpatient basis for people living in Los Angeles or if we feel you need the benefits a residential program has to offer instead.
We also understand that each person and each addiction is unique. Whether you experience both acute and subacute withdrawals (subacute withdrawals can last weeks or even months) or you only have to deal with a few days of intense withdrawal symptoms, we are there to help our patients every step of the way.
Outpatient treatment is another option to consider for those who need assistance overcoming heroin addiction but are reluctant to consider residential treatment options.
While residential treatment is far more effective, that doesn’t mean that outpatient treatment options aren’t viable choices for some patients. Our outpatient options vary in intensity and we will work with you to determine the degree of intensity that will best meet your needs. Some patients may require partial hospitalization, especially throughout the detox process while others can go through treatment on a completely outpatient basis. Let us see how we can help you today.
Heroin addiction is no small thing to overcome. We believe you need every possible tool available in your arsenal to fight this battle. We offer a wide range of educational and psychotherapy treatment programs to help you gather all your tools around you. The following are among the programs we offer as part of our heroin addiction treatment process:
- Individual and group psychotherapy
- Psycho-educational groups.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Family therapy
- Motivational enhancement therapy
- Holistic and experiential activities
- Healthy living practices
Of course, this is not a one-size-fits-all program. We’ll work with individual patients to create a unique treatment plan designed to address their experiences, needs, and challenges.
Heroin addiction no longer has a face. It’s in the city, in the county, and all points between. It affects housewives, business professionals, suburban moms, teens, and more. If you are struggling with the rigors of heroin addiction and want to break the chains for good, contact Harmony Place today by calling 855-652-9048 to learn about our program for treating heroin addiction and how it might help you.
1National Institute on Drug Abuse (2019). https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin
2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/heroin.html
3National Institute on Drug Abuse (2018). https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/scope-heroin-use-in-united-states
4U.S. National Library of Medicine (Medline Plus) (2020). https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000949.htm