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How Do You Help a Heroin Addict? Staging an Intervention

Heroin is an opioid that is derived from morphine. In fact, it is taken from the poppy plant. In general, it is commonly abused for its ability to kill pain and to make people feel a pleasurable sensation. Also, it is reported that approximately 80 percent of individuals begin heroin addiction from prescription use.

At Harmony Place in Woodland Hills, our staff helps people who are challenged by heroin misuse. We provide medically assisted treatments in a safe and calm environment. Many times, an individual will not voluntarily enter treatment. In other words, friends and family must perform a heroin intervention. It is important to understand the devastating consequences of heroin addiction and the most successful way to conduct a heroin addiction intervention for a loved one.

Why Heroin is Extremely Addictive

Scientific research proves that heroin and similar opioids rewire a person’s brain. In fact, it makes an individual focus on getting high at all costs. In other words, a person goes to extremes for the drug so that he or she continues feeling the pleasurable euphoria. Opioids, in general, have a high risk of addiction and often require specialized treatment once addiction develops. 

Cycle of Dependency

Indeed, heroin heightens the amount of dopamine that is released in the brain. As a result, a person experiences great pleasurable feelings. Almost immediately, a person craves the drug over and over. In other words, the cycle of dependency and drug misuse begins quickly. When a person finally admits that a problem exists, it is essential to rid the body of the drug. During this period of detox, it is essential to have proper guidance so that no harm is done to the body. If detox is not successful, a person returns to the habit and often consumes amounts of the drug that shocks his or her body. As a result, a fatal overdose may occur. To prevent danger, it is best to have an individual detox with the help of medical professionals.

Effects of Heroin on the Body

As previously discussed, heroin enters the brain quickly and binds to opioid receptors. Certainly, there are short-term and long-term effects on a user. After long-term use, the body has a chemical imbalance that can cause a host of mental and physical health issues. 

Short-Term Effects of Heroin Use

After heroin enters the body, a user feels a “surge” of pleasure. Markedly, this rush is joined by a flushing of the skin and dry mouth. In certain cases, a person may become nauseous and experience an intense urge to itch his or her body. Commonly, initial effects include drowsiness and lower mental function. Also, slow breathing and decreased heart rate are noticeable. In severe cases, breathing becomes so labored that a coma results. Therefore, a person may have permanent brain damage.

  • Increase sleepiness
  • Severe itching
  • Clouded mental abilities
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Heavy limbs
  • Warm skin
  • Dry mouth

Long-Term Effects of Heroin Use

To be sure, when a person repeatedly uses heroin, it alters the physical and physiological structure of his or her brain. In other words, hormonal systems are disrupted. In fact, certain studies have proven that the brain experiences permanent brain damage, which harms a person’s ability to regulate behavior or respond to stress.

Notably, heroin produces a tolerance. In other words, a person requires more and more of the drug to feel the same high. Withdrawal occurs when use is suddenly stopped. Heroin is addictive to the point of danger. An addicted person is likely to do anything to get more of the substance. Over time, there are a number of long-term effects on the body.

  • Insomnia
  • Infected heart valves
  • Constipation
  • Liver/kidney disease
  • Lung problems
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Collapsed veins for people who inject heroin
  • Damaged nose tissue for people who snort heroin

How Loved Ones Can Stage a Heroin Addiction Intervention

When a loved one struggles with a heroin misuse problem, it affects the user and his or her entire family and friend group. In fact, it is difficult to watch a loved one spiral out of control. Many times, a person in the midst of addiction is in denial about the issue. This makes it extremely difficult to push the person to seek professional help. Certainly, one of the best ways to get results is with a heroin intervention.

What is an Intervention?

In general, an intervention is a planned event that includes input from a doctor or drug counselor. Also, it may involve a professional interventionist. Throughout the process, everyone gathers to confront the person who is using heroin. During the meeting, the consequences of addiction are addressed. In fact, it is possible to have a treatment plan in place with specific steps and goals. Finally, each friend and family member explains what will happen if the person refuses help.

Steps of a Typical Heroin Addiction Intervention

A successful heroin intervention involves a number of steps. It is essential to tread carefully. In fact, an intervention usually brings feelings of anger and resentment from the person with the problem.

  • Create a Plan. A friend or family member plans the intervention and forms a group to help. For example, the team should include a professional counselor, psychologist, social worker, or intervention specialist.
  • Gather Details. The group uncovers the extent of the loved one’s problem. Oftentimes, plans are made to enroll the loved one in a treatment program.
  • Form a Team. In general, a team must be formed to set the date, location, and message of the intervention.
  • Decide Consequences. Indeed, there is a high likelihood that the person misusing heroin will decline help. Therefore, it is vital to have consequences in place. For example, if help is not sought, a parent may tell the individual to move out of his or her house.
  • Create a Speech. Obviously, an intervention is nerve-racking for everyone involved. It is important to speak sternly. Each member of the intervention team must express his or her concerns. Also, it is best to explain the specifics that are involved with the treatment.
  • Follow Up. If a person decides against treatment, each team member must follow through with his or her consequences. If the person chooses to seek treatment, it is essential to be supportive. Specifically, family members should attend therapy sessions to learn ways to help a loved one avoid negative behavior that may lead back to drug use.

No matter the situation, it is vital to carefully plan the heroin intervention. If the meeting is executed poorly, a person dealing with drug addiction may feel attacked, which may lead to isolation or rebellion against treatment. Each person participating in the intervention should have a carefully planned dialog. This is to avoid speaking out of emotion which could be detrimental to the outcome of the intervention.

Hiring an Addiction Specialist

A loved one may feel the pressure of performing a successful heroin intervention. He or she realizes the importance of this event. In fact, it may be a matter of life or death. Therefore, it may be best to work with an addiction specialist who is familiar with staging interventions. In other words, this person will be able to easily handle unexpected challenges that occur during the heroin addiction intervention. To repeat, this individual may be a social worker, therapist, or intervention specialist.

Treatment Options for Heroin Addiction

To explain, it is important to understand some of the potential treatment options for a person who is challenged with a heroin misuse disorder. In fact, the first step in the process is detox. Working with a facility that offers medical detox can help to ease craving and other symptoms. Therefore, it is a smart way to prevent relapse. Methadone is one medicine that eases detoxification.

Whether a person chooses in-patient or out-patient treatment, he or she may undergo cognitive behavioral therapy. In other words, this therapy helps to modify a patient’s behavior that is related to drug use. Also, it heightens a person’s coping skills when triggers occur. Group therapy, family therapy, and other holistic treatments help a person gain the power to live a life of sobriety in the long term.

Reasons to Seek Help for a Loved One at Harmony Place

When a person knows that a loved one has an addiction problem with heroin, there is little time to wait. In fact, putting off an invention can be fatal. Certainly, it is difficult to stop a heroin dependency without professional assistance.

The most important part of a heroin addiction intervention is choosing a place where the loved one can turn to for help. At Harmony Place, we are available to provide the necessary tools to regain a life of sobriety. Indeed, an intervention makes a person accountable for negative behavior and gives him or her the opportunity to receive guidance and care. It is never too late to break the cycle of addiction. For more information about our heroin recovery treatment programs, call us today.