What is Heroin Addiction
Heroin is classified as an opioid drug that was originally derived from the opium poppy. Once touted for medicinal purposes, heroin has become a common recreational drug that is often abused and known to be highly addictive. Synthetic forms of the drug have made using heroin even more dangerous and increase the chances of a fatal overdose.
There are many episodes in life that can lead a person to begin using heroin. Peer pressure is one of the main catalysts that can quickly lead to a full-blown addiction to heroin. Some people start using the drug to try to mask the memories of traumatic events in their lives. Gateway drugs such as marijuana sometimes cause people to start using heroin to achieve a greater drug high. Another common problem that leads to heroin dependency is when medications that are prescribed to relieve pain or other physical ails become addictive, which may cause someone to turn to heroin to achieve a similar high.
Although heroin is usually thought of as an injectable substance, it is possible to get the drug into the body through other means. Many people start by swallowing, inhaling or smoking the drug and later turn to inject it so that it gets into the bloodstream faster and produces a more intense high.
Many users of heroin report feeling euphoric with physical warmth when taking the drug, but the short- and long-term effects of use can pose many health dangers. In the short-term, heroin can cause nausea with vomiting and uncontrollably itchy skin. Once the initial effects of the drug have worn off, breathing and brain functioning slow, which could result in asphyxiation and brain damage. Long-term effects of heroin abuse include brain chemistry and hormone imbalances, psychological problems, and death.
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Heroin Addiction: Signs + Symptoms
Symptoms of heroin abuse can range from mild to severe. Since heroin effects people in different ways, not everyone will show the same signs of having a heroin problem with short- or long-term use. It is important to note, however, that even though symptoms of heroin use are not always present, the drug could still be doing major damage to the body that might result in irreversible health problems.
In addition to nausea and itching, heroin users are known to experience chronic dry mouth. The skin may also feel flush and warm. People who abuse heroin often have trouble making decisions because of the drug’s effects on the brain. The pupils of a heroin user sometimes look constricted, and the person may additionally look as though their body is heavy with droopy arms when they stand.
If you are concerned that someone you love may be a heroin user, there are other things that you should look for that could indicate he or she has a problem. You may notice needles or syringes lying around a person’s home or bedroom that have not been prescribed by a doctor. Burnt spoons and aluminum foil can be other indicators. The person may also have needle marks visible on one or both arms.
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Heroin Withdrawal: Signs + Symptoms
If you or someone you love enters treatment or has been unable to obtain more heroin for a prolonged period, withdrawal symptoms can start to show as the body tries to physically adjust to not having the drug. Along with intense heroin cravings, heroin addicts are known to experience:
- Heavy sweating
- Intense bone and muscle aches
These physiological symptoms sometimes lead a person to cry incessantly or display anger. Many heroin users who go through withdrawal also report feeling feverish and nauseous and have trouble sleeping.
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Let AmHealth’s Addiction Treatment Program Help You Today
Fortunately, there is hope for people who want to quit using heroin and lead sober lives. The treatment programs at AmHealth Behavioral can help you or a loved one break free from heroin dependency safety and provide tools and support to minimize the chances of relapsing. AmHealth Behavioral program options include:
Detox – As the body begins to detoxify itself of the drug, the detox program is designed to help clients adjust to the physical and psychological effects. Since heroin effects people differently, this medically supervised program includes plans that are based on each person’s unique genetic metabolic profile to help clients detox safely and experience the best results. Clients are usually advised to stay three to ten days to complete the program.
Intensive Outpatient – With the help of experts, you or your loved one can complete this program without being required to stay overnight at the facility or in a hospital. AmHealth Behavioral has designed an intensive outpatient program that challenges the norm and uses more innovative methods to help each person achieve greater success. Treatment methods that are designed to reprogram the neuropathways in the brain include ACT, CBT, DBT and motivational interviewing.
Partial Hospitalization – Clients who need more medical supervision because they are likely to experience more severe withdrawal symptoms or have other medical concerns are advised to enroll in this program. The partial hospitalization program can also provide you or a loved one with a team of addiction treatment experts who can offer the right amount of support and guidance for a full recovery.
Residential Treatment Program – Once drug withdrawal is complete, recovery can continue in the residential treatment program. This program allows clients to stay in a state-of-the-art facility to build a strong base to continue leading a sober lifestyle. AmHealth Behavioral staff members continue to monitor the wellbeing of each person who enters this program to monitor progress throughout the 30- to 90-day period.
Whether you or a close friend or family member struggle with an addiction to heroin, AmHealth Behavioral is open to provide the care and treatment to help get life back on track.