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Heroin Addiction and Treatment

Heroin Addiction and Treatment drug rehabilitation and alcohol rehabilitation

Heroin is a powerful addictive drug sweeping the United States causing intense euphoria and strong physical dependence in its users. Heroin is processed from morphine; a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of certain varieties of poppy plants and appears as a white or brown powdery substance.


Heroin is highly addictive because it enters the brain rapidly and affects those regions of the brain responsible for producing physical dependence. This dangerous drug affects all decision-making, reaction time, the way one thinks, actions, and memory.


Heroin addicts, who use regularly, develop a tolerance. To get the same effect from the drug, the user must have higher doses, which in turn causes physical dependence and addiction. Despite the glamorization of heroin chic in films, fashion, and music, heroin use can have tragic consequences that extend far beyond its users. Fetal effects, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, violence, and crime are all linked to its use. Long-term effects of heroin use are also devastating to the body and mind.


The effect of heroin on the body is dependent on the method of administration. Heroin can be taken orally, which is metabolized into morphine before crossing the blood-brain barrier; snorted, which results in onset within 10 to 15 minutes; smoked, which has immediate effects; intravenously injected, which results in rush and euphoria within 7 to 8 seconds; and intramuscularly injected which takes longer but results in onset within 5 to 8 minutes. Finally, heroin can kill.


Of all reported drug abuse deaths, heroin is one of the top two most frequent. As with any drug addiction and physical dependency, withdrawal symptoms occur if use is reduced or stopped.


Withdrawal can occur anywhere from a few hours to 72 hours after the last dose and symptoms can include:

  • Drug craving
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Cold flashes
  • Kicking movements


For the user trying to quit, medications and behavior therapies are the most common treatment options.


First, the medications Methadone and Buprenorphine have proven to be successful in treating heroin addiction. Methadone, a synthetic opiate, blocks the effects of heroin for about 24 hours. Buprenorphine is the most recent addition to the array of medications available for treating addiction to heroin and other opiates. This medication is different from methadone in that it offers less risk of addiction and can be dispensed in the privacy of a doctor's office. Other medications include naloxone and naltrexone, both of which block the effects of morphine, heroin, and other opiates.


In addition; there are many effective behavioral treatments available for heroin addiction. These can include residential and outpatient approaches. Contingency management therapy uses a voucher-based system, where patients earn "points" based on negative drug tests, which they can exchange for items that encourage healthful living. Cognitive-behavioral interventions are designed to help modify the patient’s thinking, expectancies, and behaviors and to increase skills in coping with various life stressors. Treatment can and should be integrated with support services to enable the heroin user to return to a stable and productive life.


In conclusion, heroin addiction is a terrible way of life but can be overcome with hard work, a support group, a drug rehabilitation program or center and pure determination.

left quoteHeroin abuse and addiction is continuing to increase in many areas throughout the United States so we thought it was important to do an update to this article called Heroin Addiction and Treatment - Updated 2011right quote



References

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse, Heroin Abuse and Addiction Research Report, May 2005.
  2. Heroin: Abuse and Addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 1999. Internet: http://www.nida.nih.gov/ResearchReports/
  3. Heroin/heroin4.html#pregnant
  4. Mortality Data From the Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2002. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 2002.
  5. Tschacher W, Haemmig R, Jacobshagen N. (2003). "Time series modeling of heroin and morphine drug action. Psychopharmacology.
  6. www.samhsa.gov

Sobriety Help and Education

Topic Discussion

  1. Addict

    Heroin is becoming more popular due to the recent change in the drug oxycodone or Oxycontin. Oxy as it is referred to was widely available off the streets without a prescription, and because of this many people formed an addiction to this opiate. When recent laws changed the formula to this well known drug the supply has become dramatically shortened. Many users were unable to find an alternative to this drug of choice and turned to heroin for their opiate fix. I of course am only stating an opinion that was formed through personal experience.

  2. Addict

    After consulting with 4 separate abuse clinics it is an actual fact that users who formally found Oxycontin readily available on the streets has lead to a DRAMATIC INCREASE IN HEROINE ADDICTION. The majority of Oxycontin abusers instead of "stopping" their use of Oxycontin have instead switched to HEROINE!

    By changing this formula they didn't help anyone or anything. Instead it has lead to an more dangerous addiction (as you can die from heroine withdrawal, and cannot from Oxycontin).

    Also, Purdue Pharma had stated that they would review the facts and conduct a study that showed the result of the Oxycontin formula change. IN A SEPARATE STUDY (DONE IN SANTA CRUZ CALIFORNIA) AFTER 8 months of PURDUE PHARMA'S DECISION TO CHANGE THEIR FORMULA HAS RESULTED IN REHABILITATION CLINICS SEEING A 400% INCREASE IN THE INTAKE FOR HEROINE ADDICTS!

    SO THEY (the government and the purdue pharma) TOOK AWAY OXYCONTIN AND MADE IT NO LONGER EFFECTIVE IN PAIN TREATMENT (1/3 OF ALL PATIENTS THAT WERE ON OXYCONTIN 8 MONTHS AGO ARE ON IT NOW DUE TO THE NEW FORMULA'S INABILITY TO TREAT PAIN). SO THE RESULT is PEOPLE THAT ACTUALLY HAD REAL PAIN CAN NO LONGER GET SATISFACTORY TREATMENT, AND THOSE WHO ABUSED IT AND CAN NO LONGER GET IT JUST SWITCHED TO HEROINE!

    OVERALL THE FORMULA CHANGE HAS HURT THOSE WHO HAVE REAL PAIN, AND HAS HURT THOSE WHO ARE ABUSING AS WELL!

    Phillip g, you are exactly correct. People are 4x times more likely to go to rehab for heroine than they were before this change, and those who have real pain also have suffered. I'm shocked the government was able to get away with switching a drug that had been legal for 16 full years... and then decided some drug addicts get their hands on it, so punish those in pain! Purdu and the FDA should both rot in hell for this childish decision.

  3. Addict

    I have a family member is going through withdrawal from heroin and it has been 3 weeks and he is still experiencing back pain and cannot sleep. How long do the withdrawals last?

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