Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs plaguing our society today. In the United States, 948,000 people admitted to using heroin in the past year according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted in 2016. The rise in heroin use is attributed to the rise in opioid prescription medication abuse because heroin is cheaper and more accessible than prescription opioids. If you’re struggling with heroin, and are sick and tired of being sick and tired, addiction treatment is available.
What does heroin addiction look like?
Heroin can be snorted, smoked or injected. When it enters the body, it turns into morphine and adheres to the opioid receptors in the brain. Repeated and extended use of heroin causes the brain to adapt to the substance, where it can only function “normally” when the substance is used. This physiological change is where addiction starts coming into play. Soon your tolerance will increase, and you’ll need more and more to feel “normal.” As your body becomes dependent on the drug, when you don’t have it, you start going through withdrawals.
Heroin withdrawals feel like the flu on steroids, which is why it’s often called feeling “dope sick.” Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cold sweats, and stomach cramping are just a few of the withdrawal symptoms you can experience once your body becomes dependent on heroin.
Detoxing from heroin
While detoxing from heroin doesn’t directly cause anyone to die, the symptoms are sometimes so severe that people will often start using again just to feel better. In addition, because symptoms of withdrawal can lead to acute dehydration, it’s important to seek medical help when detoxing from heroin.
Withdrawals will begin about 12 hours after the body was last exposed to heroin. The first 2-3 days are the worst, and then it tapers off. What’s more dangerous, however, is that many people who are detoxing from heroin will try to use to stop feeling so sick. But because their tolerance has dropped drastically, trying to use the same amount of heroin that they were using will cause an overdose. This is why it’s important to seek the proper treatment for quitting heroin. There are medications available that can help ease the withdrawal symptoms and set you up for successful addiction recovery.
Treatment for heroin addiction
If you’re finally ready to quit heroin, there are treatment options and resources that can help you get through detox and learn how to live a sober life. Because the withdrawal effects of coming off heroin are so severe that many people fall back to using before making it through detox, your best option for success is finding treatment. Going cold turkey is possible, but your chances of success are low.
There are a variety of medications available that can help you kick your heroin habit. These include methadone, buprenorphine (suboxone), and Naltrexone (Vivitrol), which help reduce cravings and ease some withdrawal symptoms. Methadone and Suboxone are opioid agonists, which adhere to the opioid receptors in the brain to ease cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms. Vivitrol is an opioid antagonist, which blocks opioids from reaching the receptors in the brain, and is commonly used to prevent relapse because if you use while on it, you won’t get the high that you’re expecting.
Conquering your heroin addiction, though, is more than just detoxing from the drug. Once you get through the detox phase and withdrawals have subsided, you’re still left unsure of how to navigate the world as a clean and sober individual. Relapse is a common occurrence for addicts, but with heroin addicts, it’s even more deadly. As soon as you stop putting heroin into your body, your tolerance level decreases drastically. That means that if you pick-up after any amount of time and try to use the same amount of heroin you were using before, it’s very likely that you may overdose.
Successful addiction treatment needs to include support for your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. There are programs that can help you learn how your addiction has taken control of your life, and teach you how to navigate your emotions and spiritual health while staying clean. Treatment options include partial day programs, intensive outpatient programs, support groups, and one-on-one therapy. Building a support network, learning about the disease of addiction, and understanding how to manage and deal with your emotions without picking-up heroin are the keys to successfully finding recovery from your addiction.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, don’t be scared to reach out to us. At Multi-Concept Recovery, it is our goal to help you live a better and healthier life away from drugs and alcohol. Contact us today to speak with an addiction treatment professional.