Government Authorities all over the world have made Heroin illegal because it is a highly addictive drug. Morphine is used to process heroin. The source of morphine is seed pods harvested from poppy plants. Heroin is cut with powdered milk, starch, quinine or sugars to form either a brown or white powder.
Heroin is very bitter, especially its purer form. Impure heroin is also called black tar heroin. This is because it is usually a black sticky substance. Crude processing methods are used to make black tar heroin and leave many impurities. The purity of heroin determines how it is used. The purer forms of heroin-like the white or brown powder are either smoked, snorted or sniffed. Impure heroin is dissolved and diluted and people will inject it into their muscles, their veins, or beneath their skin.
What Does it Mean to Be Addicted to Heroin?
For every four people who use heroin for the first time, at least one of them gets addicted. It actually the most addictive and acts more rapidly than other opioids. Heroin triggers the brain to release endorphins and dopamine. These are known as the feel-good chemicals, as they enhance euphoric or high feelings to the user.
The chemicals are usually released as part of the reward system of your body. They are typically released in instances like when you are in pain or when you eat. When you abuse heroin your brain will associate the release of the chemicals to the presence of the drug.
Addiction develops from regular abuse. You know you are addicted when you experience some withdrawal symptoms a few hours after your last dose. Moreover, you will feel as though you cannot function without heroin. Another sign of addiction is relapsing after a long period of abstinence.
Heroin addiction can start anywhere from bad company, and experimenting. However, heroin use and addiction can start from prescription drugs. Almost half of the abusers and heroin addicts started with a prescription drug. People also turn to heroin because it is cheaper and readily available than prescription opioids like Vicodin and OxyContin.
Heroin Symptoms and Side Effects
Your loved one may fall into abuse and addiction to heroin. How do you know they are abusing? You may watch out for various signs either physical or behavioral. Some of the signs that your loved one is abusing heroin include:
- Wears long sleeves even on hot days. This is to hide track marks from needles with heroin.
- Track marks on the hands and legs.
- Hyperalert spells followed by exhaustion spells
- Small or constricted pupils despite the lighting.
- Secretive behavior
- Powder residue in plastic bags.
- Avoids eye contact
- Poor work or school performance
- Steals or borrows money
Presence of paraphernalia. You will find items like :
- Burn marks on spoons, straws, aluminum foils or gum wrappers.
- Missing strings such as hood ties and shoestrings. They use these to tie their arms during injections
The side effects of heroin withdrawal manifest depending on your level of addiction. They progress from mild, moderate to severe.
The Mild Side Effects Include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Running nose
- Muscle aches
- Bone aches
- A lot of yawning
The Moderate Side Effects Include:
- Concentration problems
These Are the Severe Side Effects:
- Muscle spasms
- Drug cravings
- Difficulty feeling pleasure
- Rapid heart rate
- Impaired respiration
The withdrawal symptoms of heroin, both psychological and emotional can end up causing life-threatening complications. For example, someone with hypertension risks suffering from a heart attack or a stroke.
It is highly advisable to let a medical professional administer heroin detox and withdrawal treatment for any level of heroin abuse and addiction. Withdrawal symptoms will start within 6 to 12 hours since the last use. Their intensity will peak within 1 to 3 days. They will subside within one week. However, some people suffer from post-acute withdrawal syndrome, which could last for months to years.
Effective heroin treatment starts with accepting you have a drug addiction problem and the realization of its effects. Rehabilitation involves a number of approaches to safe withdrawal and recovery from drug addiction. The main rehab approaches for heroin are inpatient treatment and outpatient or partial hospitalization program (PHP).
Inpatient treatment is usually the first treatment program in heroin rehab. It includes medical treatment, therapy treatment, and nutrition. Recovering patients will live in the rehab facility premises for the duration of the treatment. You will be in a safe environment, with close medical attention, and a healthy routine.
During this program, the medical professionals will start with detox. Detox is a process of removing the heroin from your body. After the inpatient program, the patient will step down to the partial hospitalization program and eventually advance to outpatient and ongoing treatment.
How Long Does Heroin Rehabilitation Take?
The rehabilitation period depends on your case of addiction. For example, someone who has experienced an overdose may take longer to recover. However, the standard period for rehabilitation in most rehab centers is 30 days to 90 days. There are programs that last longer.
What is Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)?
The partial hospitalization program is a program that bridges a patient between inpatient and outpatient programs. You receive rehabilitation treatment services during the day and go home for the night. The treatment approaches in this program are similar to those present in the inpatient program. You will partake in medications and therapies until you are ready to step down to outpatient and ongoing treatment.
Ongoing Treatment and Relapse Prevention
Outpatient and ongoing treatment focuses on therapy treatment more than medical detox. You will take part in:
- Cognitive behavior therapy helps you realize what triggers you to abuse and how to cope with the withdrawal symptoms.
- Family therapy to give you support and build relations as you recover and resume your normal life.
- Group therapy offers peers support towards recovery and to prevent relapse.
- Individual counseling to help you deal with your case specially and help solve what you are dealing with as an individual.
Staying Clean and Sober (Tips To Prevent Relapse)
The goal of rehab is to prevent relapse. Rehab centers offer ongoing treatment to facilitate a sober life after rehab. Here are some of the tips you should observe to avoid relapse:
1. Avoid Temptations: These are situations that tempt you to relapse. You will learn how to avoid them in cognitive therapy. However, a good example is to avoid parties that could have heroin.
2. Get Support: Family and friends support is very effective in recovery and preventing relapse. Remember to keep a good company that abstains from drugs.
3. Maintain a Healthy Routine: Your routine should have a healthy routine with goals. Once you achieve these goals, you will feel rewarded.
4. Keep Your Emotions in Check: monitor your emotions so that you can note when you are feeling low. Have another alternative source of motivation as opposed to drugs.
5. Find a Relaxation Activity: an activity that helps you to relax will help you to cope with the urges and thoughts that lead to drug abuse and addiction.
6. Relapse Is Not the End: many people give up on recovery once they relapse. However, you should seek help when you relapse. You can still detox and get back on track.
Help a Heroin Addict Today
Help for any form of addiction, including heroin, alcohol, methadone, morphine, and many other types of addiction is available at The Detox Center of Los Angeles in Los Angeles. It is better to get to rehab and get help early rather than wait until the abuse develops to chronic use of heroin.
We give patients around Los Angeles access to personalized treatment, expert staff, and use proven treatment methods on modern facilities. Our recovery goals go beyond detox and recovery. They extend to helping a patient adopt a better lifestyle and to avoid relapse.
Medical professionals have categorized addiction as a chronic disease. It leads to the impulsive use of drugs without consideration of the possible effects. Heroin belongs to a class of highly addictive drugs called opioids. Heroin is notably one of the most addictive and has strong effects. It is available at a cheaper price and without prescription restrictions. Heroin is still illegal even for medical use because of its addictive properties.
It was initially engineered in 1874 to treat morphine addiction but turned out to be more addictive. Many of those who get into heroin abuse usually start with prescription drugs. Some signs of heroin abuse would be track marks so the arms and wearing long sleeve clothing to cover them, dilated pupils, secrecy, heroin paraphernalia like syringes, and more.
Once you stop using heroin, it will take about 6 hours for the withdrawal effects to start. They range from mild effects such as nausea and chills; to moderate the impact such as diarrhea and fatigue; and severe effects such as hypertension and restricted respiration.
However, you can get help in rehab with programs such as inpatient where you reside within the premises and partial hospitalization where you stay partially in the hospital and partly at home. The Detox Center of Los Angeles has licensed staff to facilitate safe withdrawal and effective recovery. We also offer outpatient and ongoing treatment to help the patients prevent relapse.
Reach out to us today and let us help you overcome your heroin addiction.