Heroin Addiction Treatment Explained

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Heroin Addiction Treatment: Dangers of Untreated Addictions and Treatment Methods

In 2016, just fewer than 1 million people had used the illicit drug heroin within the past year, according to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The opiate heroin remains one of the most addictive illicit drugs that there is. Without heroin addiction treatment, addicts can be expected to experience increased problems in nearly all areas of their life.

In this article, we will look at the dangers of heroin abuse and how heroin addiction is treated in rehab.

Dangers of Heroin Addiction

One of the major health concerns in a heroin addiction is the structural changes that it creates in the brain. These changes often result in long-term problems, which are caused by the hormonal and neuronal imbalances. Reversing this damage is often very difficult. Damage to the white matter in the brain has been linked to the poor decision making abilities that addicts have as well as problems with behavioral regulation and stress response.

The physical dependence that heroin abuse causes is among the most difficult to defeat. When a physical dependence is present, the addict will then go through withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop using the illicit substance. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Cold flashes
  • Leg spasms
  • Restlessness
  • Bone pain
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Vomiting and nausea

When users smoke or inject heroin, dependence often forms faster because the drug reaches the brain almost instantaneously. When there is heroin addiction, the addict’s primary purpose becomes obtaining and using more heroin regardless of any negative consequence.

Detox from Heroin

Withdrawal symptoms are the first thing that a heroin addict must face and deal with in order to get better. After just a few hours from the user’s last dose, the symptoms start and then last for around 7 to 10 days.

The symptoms of withdrawal from heroin can be hellish to deal with, often associated with the worst flu-like symptoms one can imagine. To assist people with their symptoms, a rehab program called a medical detox can be used. In such a program, the patient is monitored so that symptoms can be treated with the use of heroin addiction medications. The monitoring also means that if there are unforeseen complications, then it can be handled effectively.

Heroin Addiction Medications

Through scientific research, it has been established that the use of medication in the treatment of heroin withdrawal can help to reduce criminal activity, infectious diseases and decreases overall drug use.

Three main medications that are used during detox are as follows:

  • Methadone – This is a slow-acting medication that aims to reduce symptoms of withdrawal by replacing the opioid with a safer alternative. The medication is usually given as a once-a-day tablet and can be given in an outpatient setting.
  • Naltrexone – Naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids meaning that is a person were to abuse heroin, they wouldn’t feel the euphoric effects that they are used to. It comes as a once-a-month injectable to prevent people avoiding doses.
  • Buprenorphine – Another of the medications used for heroin addiction treatment is buprenorphine. It relieves symptoms by acting as a replacement medication, similar to methadone, and is taken sublingually or orally. It contains compounds that block the effects of opioid abuse.

Further Heroin Addiction Treatment

By itself, medications can only do so much. The most effective treatment for heroin makes use of medications and therapy. As such, a person seeking addiction treatment should take part in behavioral therapy and suggested alternative therapy to properly gain control over their addiction.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.

Sources:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/scope-heroin-use-in-united-states

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-long-term-effects-heroin-use

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-treatments-heroin-use-disorder