Heroin is a highly addictive drug that is processed from naturally occurring opium. It is most commonly used intravenously although it may also be smoked or snorted.
A total of 1.4% of all Americans have reported using heroin in their lifetime. Although this number may be small in comparison to other drugs, heroin use is on the rise in the United States.
When heroin is injected, users report feeling a surge of euphoria (‘rush’) accompanied by dry mouth, a warm flushing of the skin, and a heaviness of the extremities. Following this initial euphoria, the user goes ‘on the nod,’ an alternately wakeful and drowsy state. Mental functioning becomes clouded.
Users who do not inject the drug may not experience the initial rush, but other effects are the same. With regular heroin use, tolerance develops. This means the abuser must use more heroin to achieve the same intensity of effect.
Eventually, chemical changes in the brain can lead to addiction. Heroin addiction can be particularly dangerous. Because the purity of the street drug can vary tremendously, a user can never truly know how much actual pure heroin he or she is putting into their body. This variation often leads to overdose and death.
Overdose of heroin results from excessive depression of the central nervous system. Often, resperatory function will decrease to the point that a person may not be taking in enough oxygen to survive.
In 1999 heroin usage accounted for 51% accidental deaths from drugs. Aside from the danger of acute overdose, the long-term effects of heroin can be devastating as well. Because many people inject the drug, the risk of contracting diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C increases greatly. Poor nutrition often accompanies chronic use as well.
Chronic use of heroin leads to physical dependence, a state in which the body has adapted to the presence of the drug. If a dependent user reduces or stops use of the drug abruptly, they may experience severe symptoms of withdrawal.
These symptoms, which can begin as early as a few hours after the last drug administration, include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps (‘cold turkey’), kicking movements (‘kicking the habit’), and other symptoms.
Users also experience severe craving for the drug during withdrawal, precipitating continued abuse and/or relapse. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose and typically subside after about a week; however, some individuals may show persistent withdrawal symptoms for months.
Although heroin withdrawal is considered less dangerous than alcohol or barbiturate withdrawal, sudden withdrawal by heavily dependent users who are in poor health is occasionally fatal.
Detox is the first step for anyone who desires to get off heroin. If the drug has been used for a long period of time, we usually recommend a medical detox prior to treatment. Modern heroin detox is usually accomplished by a drug called Buprenorphine (found in Subutex and Suboxone). The use of this drug has made detox much more comfortable than it has been in the past and has even contributed to the success rate of long term sobriety.
Because heroin is such a powerful drug, most users will need some kind of help getting off of it.
Cravings associated with heroin use can be extremely intense. Often times, an addict will need long term treatment in a drug rehab environment to keep from using. There is often a period of physical and emotional discomfort experienced during the first months of sobriety.
Although medication can help, true healing of the body soul and spirit often occurs over the course of treatment.
Eternal Awakenings offers a Christ centered, biblically based, comprehensive solution to heroin addiction. Our addiction doctors are specially trained to work with heroin addicts and are all Suboxone licensed.
The detox programs that we work with all have extensive experience with heroin withdrawal. Our licensed chemical dependency counselors have worked in the recovery field for over 20 years and have extensive experience with heroin addiction.
All of our staff are believers in Jesus Christ and carry their Christian beliefs into the facility.
Please check out our home page for more information on treatment options or call us now.