Heroin Addiction

What is Heroin?

Heroin addiction is not a joke. Heroin, an opiate, is a fast acting form of processed morphine that acts as a depressant or downer. Heroin can be sold as a white or brownish powder or a black sticky substance also known as black tar heroin. Most street heroin is not pure, though the popularity of pure heroin is growing. Heroin can be cut with anything poisonous as street buyers have no idea of the purity or strength of the heroin sold. Some forms of synthetic heroin such as Krokodil, far more powerful than pure heroin, turns the skin at the injection site into grey-green scaly tissue quickly resulting in gang green and in many instances requiring limb amputation.

Heroin can be injected, sniffed/snorted or smoked. Those injecting heroin will feel the effects quicker than those that sniff or smoke the drug. National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has confirmed that all forms of heroin use can quickly lead to addiction. Sadly, many younger users believe that inhaling or smoking heroin reduces the risk of addiction. Nothing is further from the truth. 23 percent of those who try heroin will become heroin addicts.

States have witnessed an increase in heroin use because it is a cheaper alternative to other powerful opiates such as oxycodone.

How does Heroin Work?

Though heroin is a processed form of morphine, it converts back into morphine once ingested. In the brain, morphine (heroin) attaches itself to the opioid receptors; it also travels through the body in the blood attaching itself to other receptors. These receptors form the body’s experience of pain and pleasure and in the brain regulate the automatic processes such as blood pressure, arousal and respiration. According to the NIDA, heroin overdose involves the suppression of breathing. Difficulty breathing or severely impaired breathing due to an overdose of heroin can result in death.

As with other substances, the brain and the body grow accustomed to the presence of the drug and two things happen. The brain function alters and an ever increasing amount of the drug is required to obtain the same intensity or effect of the first experience. Once that body reaches a level of tolerance the need for more is inescapable, without a constantly ingesting heroin, the body experiences withdrawal symptoms.

What are the Symptoms of Heroin Addiction?

  • Sleepiness
  • Unhealthy hygiene
  • Lack of appetite
  • Collapsed veins
  • Bacterial infections/abscesses
  • Infection of the heart
  • Depressed respiration
  • Clouded thinking
  • Increased risk of HIV/AIDS and other contagious diseases
  • Drug paraphernalia
  • Pinpoint pupils

What are the symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal?

  • Restlessness
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Cold sweats

Treatment of Heroin Addiction

Before treatment can successfully begin, a heroin user must detox off of heroin. Detox under the supervision of a trained addiction physician depends upon the level of heroin abuse and the mental and physical health status of a client. Treatment Alternatives offers outpatient detox supervised by a physician who specializes in Heroin Addiction and withdrawal. Our detox staff understands the pain, the shame, and the intense discomfort that accompanies addicts in withdrawal. We are committed to making your detox comfortable and complete.

Treatment Alternatives believe that a comprehensive approach to detox and substance abuse must also include addressing any and all mental health issues. To avoid anxiety, panic, agitation and other side effects of heroin withdrawal medication management may be necessary. Once the heroin has been removed from the body, treatment can progress. Relapse prevention, substance abuse education, group and individual therapy, life skills and a host of other sessions increase the chances of staying clean and avoiding relapse.

Our program and detox protocols are based upon scientific research and best practices in the field of addiction medicine. We follow the guidelines of the Joint Commission, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration as well as the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Our facilities are licensed by the State of Florida. We take your recovery to heart.

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