Heroin is a powerful opiate that has an intense effect on the brain’s reward system by influencing the production of dopamine and endorphins, so-called feel-good hormones. Research indicates that about 25% of people who try heroin will become addicted, an addiction that can be very difficult to break without help.
The United States is currently experiencing a heroin epidemic with heroin use increasing across most ages groups, both genders, and all income levels. From 2007 to 2014, heroin use in the U.S. tripled, according to a recent report from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with opioid deaths tripling in recent years. In 2015, the DEA found there were an estimated 600,000 heroin users in the U.S. with more than 47,000 fatal drug overdoses from opioids like heroin in one year alone.
If you or someone you love is struggling with heroin addiction, it is possible to overcome the addiction with help. Rehab and an addiction treatment center can offer the tools, intervention, and support necessary to conquer addiction and live a happy and healthy life free of heroin.
Heroin is a very addictive painkiller that is synthesized from morphine, which comes from poppy seeds. Any drug derived from poppy plans are considered opiates. People who use heroin for the first time often describe it as a euphoric high, although long-term users describe it very differently, often saying they need heroin just to feel normal.
This is because heroin prompts a massive production of feel-good chemicals dopamine and endorphins, which are part of the brain’s reward system. Under normal conditions, the brain releases these chemicals to reward behavior like eating and survival. Unfortunately, heroin is quickly linked to the activation of the chemicals in the reward system.
Over time, the body builds up a tolerance to heroin and more and more of the drug is necessary for the user to feel the effects. Tolerance typically leads to dependence, which occurs when someone finds they need the drug to even feel normal. There have also been studies that have shown long term effects of opiate use.
As an addict increases their doses to feel the effects and fight painful withdrawal, they are at a greater risk of a fatal overdose.
Signs of Heroin Use & Dependence
Treating Heroin Addiction
Heroin addiction is very serious and most people cannot simply stop taking the drug. Heroin withdrawal, which may last a week or longer, comes with extreme mental and physical symptoms that can be very hard or even dangerous to fight alone. Heroin withdrawal can cause symptoms such as:
- Intense cravings
- Muscle spasms
- Abdominal pain
- Severe nausea
- Difficulty feeling pleasure
- Impaired respiration
The first step to treating heroin addiction is detox. A detox program offers a safe way to withdrawal from heroin by minimizing the severity of symptoms and complications, relieving pain so the patient’s body can adjust to its drug-free state. Detox is the first step that comes before a long-term treatment program.
Heroin Rehab Process
After detoxification, intense therapy treatment is provided through an inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment center. Both options have advantages, although inpatient care is typically recommended for people who are at a high risk of relapsing, need additional support, have a serious addiction, or have a dual addiction like alcohol.
Heroin addiction treatment may involve many components:
- Individual therapy sessions
- Group therapy
- Behavioral therapy
- Support groups
Medication which may include methadone, a long-acting opioid that activates the opioid receptors in the brain like heroin without euphoria, or buprenorphine, with effects that plateau to reduce the risk of dependency.
Inpatient rehab gives patients a structured daily routine with support groups, daily therapy, and activities such as exercise or hiking. Inpatient heroin rehab may last between 30 and 90 days or longer for severe addiction.
Get Help Today
The intense symptoms of withdrawal and the psychological grip heroin has on users, professional addiction treatment typically offers the best hope for a successful recovery. If you or someone you love is caught in the grips of heroin dependency, professional heroin addiction treatment is a safe and effective solution to help you get through recovery. Contact us today to speak with an addiction specialist who will help you start on your new path.