Heroin addiction can destroy families and rip apart lives. We at FHE Health understand the impact heroin can have on our patients’ lives. Although a difficult and challenging path, treatment helps to relieve patients of the grip that heroin has on their lives. Our medical, psychiatric, and clinical professionals have all the necessary tools needed to help patients begin a life full of quality and rid of substance addiction.
What is Heroin?
Heroin is an illicit drug that is one of the most addictive substances found on our planet. It is a synthetic, or manmade, for of morphine. Morphine is a drug derived from the sap of a poppy plant that is used for medicinal purposes to maintain chronic and severe pain. Heroin is processed from morphine and ends up in pure form as white powder, typically sold from South America or Southeast Asia. Many times heroin is seen sold on the street as a yellowish powder. This is because manufacturers will add ingredients to stretch the product. Additives found in powdered heroin include sugar, starch, powdered milk, and sometimes even rat poison. Heroin’s illegality allow for these additives since it is not regulated by the FDA, making buying it off the street potentially deadly. Powdered heroin use is rising since it can be smoked or snorted, erasing the stigma placed on heroin injection. The heroin that is usually injected into veins is called black tar heroin, which is a sticky or hard black substance that is boiled down and shot into the bloodstream. Widespread heroin use in the United States steadily rises with each new year. A reported number of over 700 thousand people used heroin in the past year in our beloved country.
Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Addiction
Over the years, because of its illicit status, the heroin market has become increasingly more dangerous with the introduction of harmful additives. Those addicted to this drug are at a higher risk for overdose than ever before with these dangerous additives to the already terrifying drug. The abuse of any opiate quickly forms dependence and addictive behavior because of its high potential for addiction. The side effects and consequences of heroin abuse are many, ranging from relationship problems to death by overdose. Signs that an individual is abusing this drug may include:
- Health problems like malnourishment
- Neglect of responsibilities
- Absence at important events
- Run-ins with the law
- High tolerance to the cold
- Excessively small pupils
- Lower performance at work or school
- Avoidance of family and loved ones
Heroin works by stimulating neurotransmitters in the brain that create dopamine, a naturally occurring “feel good” chemical released in the brain. Eventually, dopamine deposits deplete from repeated use and even brain deformity can occur from heroin use. Many times, this brain decomposition is irreversible and causes an inability to control behaviors, an inability to make decisions, and the inability to manage emotions. Tolerance of heroin can occur in even single time users. Tolerance is when a person has to take more of a drug to experience the desired effects. This is because the brain gets used to the drug in the system and needs more for the neurotransmitters to be stimulated. When tolerance is formed, dependency is nearby. Drug dependence is when the body does not function properly unless the substance it has developed a tolerance for is administered into the body. Dependence is noted when a person starts to feel withdrawal if the drug has not been used for a certain amount of time. Withdrawal is symptoms that follow from refraining from use after dependency has formed. The body has to relearn how to function without the drug in the system before side effects will subside. Withdrawal symptoms from heroin are some of the worse of any drug withdrawal, and many heroin users continue to abuse heroin simply because they do not want to feel the effects of withdrawal.
Medical Detox for Heroin Addiction
Because heroin withdrawal is quite unpleasant, it is suggested that those that wish to live a life in recovery go through the process of medical detox. Medical detox is the process of removing substances from the body. To do this, you must simply wait out the withdrawal symptoms until the body regains normal functionality without the drug in the body. Detox can be dangerous if not supervised, and medical detox allows for supervision of addiction and medical specialists. FHE Health offers medical detox for a number of different addictions, including heroin. This process will ensure that you are in good hands and provided with anything that you may need while you detox, including medications that may help with pain management.
Medications for Heroin Addiction
Buprenorphine: This is an opiate that stimulates the same neurotransmitters as heroin, but on a much lesser scale. This medication is used to help with withdrawal symptoms in those detoxing from heroin addiction.
Methadone: This medication basically works the same as Buprenorphine, but is a little stronger. It is used in withdrawal symptom management.
Naltrexone: This medication is also used in the treatment of alcoholism. It blocks receptors that recognize opioids, helping with cravings. It also prevents the effects of heroin if a relapse occurs.
Suboxone: This useful medication is a combination of both Naltrexone and Buprenorphine, so it does what both of them do. It helps with withdrawing symptoms while also blocking opioid receptors in the brain to prevent relapse.
Other Treatment Services for Heroin Addiction
Fortunately, treatment for addiction is successful through help provided by FHE Health. We provide patients the opportunity for medical detox, inpatient and outpatient rehab, sober skill development, aftercare services, and much more. Our professionals are highly trained in the treatment process of heroin addiction to give our patients the highest chance of success in recovery.
We work to come up with a medical, clinical, and psychiatric approach to each patients’ treatment here at FHE Health. We understand that each person’s addiction and experiences are different, which is why we come up with a specific and individualized treatment plan for each and every patient that walks through our doors. Even after treatment concludes, we provide options so that you don’t have to jump right back into your old lifestyle. Instead, you will be invited to live at our gender-specific sober living home environments that provide a supportive atmosphere that encourages your recovery success. Jumping right back into the swing of things with your old lifestyle can provide potential risks like past behaviors, namely drug abuse. The aftercare services at FHE Health make sure you are surrounded by the support and services that you and were provided to you throughout treatment.