Heroin Addiction Treatment
Heroin is extremely addictive and difficult to overcome, but recovery is possible. Cumberland Heights offers heroin addiction treatment methods for both physiological and psychological aspects of heroin addiction and withdrawal. While physical withdrawal symptoms may abate after about a week of discontinuing heroin use, psychological cravings aren’t as easy to conquer. That’s why it’s important to seek help through an accredited drug addiction treatment center.
To determine if you or a loved one needs heroin addiction treatment or has an opiate addiction problem, we encourage you to learn more below.
What is Heroin?
Heroin is derived from morphine, a naturally occurring substance found in the seeds of the poppy plant. It was first developed in 1874 as a pain reliever. In 1914, heroin became a controlled substance under the Harrison Narcotic Act. Heroin is illegal and highly addictive and is considered the most abused opiate.
Heroin comes in many forms. In its pure form, heroin is a white powder with a bitter taste. Heroin bought on the street may range from white to dark brown or black, depending on manufacturing impurities or presence of additives. Most street heroin is “cut” by dealers with other drugs or substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk or quinine. People buying street heroin risk overdose or death because they don’t know the actual strength of the drug they buy – street heroin has been known to be cut with strychnine or other poisons.
What is Safe Start?
Safe Start is medication-assisted treatment and recommended to anyone diagnosed with a moderate to severe opioid abuse disorder. We created Safe Start, as a response to the ongoing opioid crisis we are experiencing in America.
Essentially, Safe Start is the administration and physician-assisted monitoring of extended release Naltrexone, a long-acting opioid antagonist used to reduce cravings. Naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids if they are used. Unlike other medications used to treat opioid addiction like methadone, there is no chance of dependency with Naltrexone. Naltrexone can also be an effective treatment for alcohol addiction.
Dr. Chapman Sledge, Chief Medical Officer at Cumberland Heights says as a stand-alone treatment Naltrexone is not effective. “The basis of a strong spiritual foundation in the recovery process is essential. Medication is only part of the solution,” said Sledge.
How is Heroin Taken?
Heroin is snorted, smoked or injected intravenously. Injecting heroin with a needle causes the fastest action – seven or eight seconds – and produces the greatest intensity. Heroin that is smoked or snorted takes effect in 10 to 15 minutes. The fear of catching disease from shared needles has made it more common for people to smoke or snort heroin rather than injecting it.
What are Heroin’s Effects?
Heroin causes a feeling or “rush” of euphoria. This feeling is often accompanied by dry mouth, flushed skin and a heavy feeling in the arms and legs. Heroin users may also experience nausea, vomiting and severe itching. When the initial effects wear off, heroin commonly causes the user to become drowsy for several hours. Mental function, cardiac function and breathing slow down, sometimes to the point of death.
Heroin can create a strong physical dependence – it’s easy to become addicted to the drug. Addiction to heroin is powerful, often taking over the user’s life so an addict’s primary focus becomes obtaining more heroin.
Prolonged heroin use is also associated with many serious health problems, including:
- Infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C (a risk that comes from sharing needles)
- Scarred and/or collapsed veins
- Bacterial infections of the blood vessels and heart valves
- Abscesses (or boils) and other soft tissue infections
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Lung complications, including types of pneumonia and tuberculosis
- Infection of cells in vital organs
- Arthritis or other rheumatologic problems
Deaths from opioid overdose are at an all-time high. Naloxone is a lifesaving medication and should be available to anyone who is likely to witness a heroin overdose.
Women who use heroin during pregnancy are at risk for miscarriage or premature delivery. Using heroin during pregnancy also increases a child’s risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
How is Heroin Addiction Treated?
Stopping heroin use abruptly causes a number of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Drug withdrawal, especially from heroin, can cause the user great discomfort. Few people can stop using heroin without going through a heroin recovery and addiction treatment program, which often includes heroin detoxification or detox. Detox is the first step in treating heroin addiction, but detox alone doesn’t cure heroin addiction. Both residential and outpatient programs provide a broad base of support for people with heroin addiction.
In addition to medically supervised detox, these programs may include:
- family counseling
- group therapy
- 12-Step program meetings
- relapse prevention and
- aftercare programs
Because heroin interferes with self-care, a heroin addict may be very unlikely to seek treatment. For this reason, intervention is often necessary for a person with heroin addiction.
What is the Process of Recovery from Heroin?
Withdrawal and recovery from heroin addiction is most effectively accomplished under the supervision of a medical professional at an addiction treatment center. Staff at heroin rehab centers can assist with physical withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings for the drug, along with associated restlessness, disturbed sleep patterns, abnormal blood pressure and pulse rate, dilated pupils and irritability. Naltrexone is a medication with FDA approval used as an adjudicative treatment for opioid addiction. A long acting form of Naltrexone, Vivitrol, can improve outcomes in treatment of heroin addiction.
After successful detox and treatment, it’s imperative to continue the lifelong heroin recovery process by attending 12-Step meetings and aftercare programs. Cumberland Heights can help you or a loved one begin heroin recovery through our intensive heroin addiction treatment and addiction relapse prevention programs.