Heroin is an opiate drug that is synthesized from morphine, derived from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Heroin can be injected, snorted/sniffed, or smoked. Heroin enters into the brain, converting itself into morphine, binding to receptors known as opioid receptors located in many areas of the brain and body involved in the perception of pain and inward. Injecting heroin into the vain causes a surge of euphoria, the “rush”, as well as dry mouth, a warm flushing of the skin, heaviness of the limbs, and blurred mental functioning. The user goes “on the nod” after the initial rush of euphoria, the user is in an wakeful and drowsy state.
An estimate of 23% of heroin users become addicted.
Using heroin regularly typically results in a tolerance, the user requires more of the drug to reach the desired effects. In time a dependence on heroin develops, the user becomes addicted, it feel impossible to quit due to withdrawal symptoms they experience when abruptly stopping the use of the drug. These symptoms vary in severity and can begin just a few hours after last using the drug, peaking between 48 and 72 hours, typically dissipating within a week although some have experienced withdrawal symptoms for months. The symptoms of withdrawal typically include; restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps known as “cold turkey”, and kicking movements refereed to as “kicking the habit”. Severe drug cravings during withdrawal can make the user relapse. Seeking help from a treatment facility is the best option for heroin users, they will greatly increase their success rate and have supportive care to help them through the recovery process.
There is a large range of treatment options available for heroin addiction. A prescription medication in combination with behavioral modification therapy and the supportive care of a treatment facility is the best option in the recovery process.This will increase your success rate drastically, making to possible to quit this overwhelming drug, heroin.
When entering into a treatment facility you will go through an assessment process to determine the appropriate course of treatment and medication to help you recover from your addiction to heroin. Medically assisted detoxification will help you safely withdraw from heroin.
- Methadone is the most commonly used medication for the treatment of heroin addiction. It has been used for more than 30 years. Methadone is a synthetic opiate medication that binds to the same receptors as heroin. It comes in tablet form and when taken orally it reduces the desire for other opioid drugs and prevents withdrawal symptoms. Although it helps to take away symptoms of heroin withdrawal it too can be withdrawal symptoms for long-term users, as well as a risk of overdose when not take properly.
- Buprenorphine has recently become a popular medication used in the treatment of heroin. Buprenorphine produces less risk for overdose and withdrawal effects and produces a lower level of physical dependence in comparison to methadone. Although not all patients respond to buprenorphine, some continue to require treatment with methadone to reduces drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms of heroin.
- Naltrexone blocks opioids from binding to their receptors, prevents an addict from feeling the effects of heroin, it is used more as a deterrent to drug use. Typically Naltrexone is used in out patient settings after the addict has gone through the detoxification process.
- Naloxone is used to treat heroin overdose, and is a shorter-acting opioid receptor blocker.
Behavioral treatment options
- Contingency management – This is a voucher-based system where addict earns points for negative drug tests, they can exchange these points for different items that encourage healthy living
- Behavioral modification therapy in both individual or group counseling sessions will help the addict get to the cause of their addiction as well as teaching them how to live a life of sobriety
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy will help the addict to modify their expectations and behaviors related to drug abuse, as well as increasing their skills in coping with various life stress that once drew them to drugs.
With the assistance of a Heroin Addiction Treatment Program you can successfully overcome your addiction and start on the road to recovery.