Many Americans have struggled with heroin addiction in recent years. A recent CDC study shows that heroin has been responsible for the deaths of 400,000 Americans in the last 20 years. Statistics show that opioids, such as heroin, have been responsible for many ER visits and overdose cases in California.
You often start by taking controlled amounts by sniffing, snorting, injecting, or smoking. However, the continuous use of heroin leads to addiction. Heroin addicts rely on it to get the euphoria it gives them. They need to satisfy their craving regardless of the harm their heroin use disorder causes to them or those around them.
What Causes Heroin Addiction?
Heroin binds to the receptors in your brain (mu-opioid receptors) and activates them. It replaces neurotransmitters, and it induces the release of dopamine and alters how your body reacts to pain. The continuous use of heroin leads to a high tolerance level. Addicts need more of the substance to elicit the same effects. The need to use more heroin and to get the euphoria caused by dopamine leads to heroin addiction.
Abusing pain relievers can also lead to heroin dependence. Doctors often prescribe painkillers to help people with injuries or those from surgery manage their pain. Failure to follow the prescription can cause an addiction to these painkillers. Once you complete your dosage, you will have a craving for the pain relievers to manage your pain. You may turn to heroin since it is easier to acquire than painkillers. A few connections to the dealers, and you can get heroin, no need for a prescription.
Who is at Risk of Heroin Addiction?
Anyone can develop a heroin use disorder. However, specific groups are more susceptible than others. If you fall under the following categories, you need to watch your exposure towards heroin.
- Personal history of substance abuse
- Craving for high-risk situations
- History of intense anxiety or depression
- Exposure to high-risk individuals or environment (such as other heroin addicts)
- Heavy tobacco use
Just because you belong to groups highly susceptible to heroin addiction does not mean you must be an addict. By taking care when you are around heroin, and following painkiller prescriptions, you can avoid being a heroin addict.
Lifestyle Changes that Heroin Addiction Causes
The following lifestyle modifications may indicate the existence of heroin use disorder.
1. You alienate yourself from others or hobbies – heroin abuse often leaves addicts with little time for other activities. They spend most of their time abusing heroin or going through its effects. Consequently, they disengage from family and friends. They also barely have time for things they used to love, such as sports or hangouts.
2. Long clothing to cover track marks on arms – some addicts inject heroin into their bodies via their veins. These injections often leave scars on their hands. They wear long-sleeved clothing, even during hot weather, to cover up the spots. This change is not enough to show an addict. Look for other changes before claiming that someone you care about is reliant on heroin.
3. Focusing on the next score – heroin addicts prioritize the next time they will get a dose. They go to great extents to satisfy their craving for heroin. They steal, abandon their responsibilities, or put themselves in harm’s way to get their next score. Nothing matters to them other than the next time they will use heroin.
Symptoms of Heroin Addiction
The signs of heroin addiction include:
- Needle marks (if you inject heroin) or sores in the nose (if you snort or sniff heroin)
- Memory problems
- Constricted pupils
- Slurred speech
- Reduced sense of pain
- Runny nose
- Agitation or drowsiness
- Financial difficulties
- Lagging in school or at work
- Dangerous behavior
- High tolerance level
- Isolation from others
- You have withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking heroin
How to Diagnose Heroin Dependence
While you may make judgments on whether you are reliant on heroin based on various signs, the best way to diagnose it is by visiting a licensed facility. Physicians will subject you to reliable tests to ascertain your assumptions. This dependability enables you to take the required steps to get better.
Doctors test for heroin addiction using two techniques. These methods are:
- Drug Tests – the medical team takes samples from your body for examination. These specimens may be your urine, sweat, or hair. They send them to the lab, where they analyze them for heroin presence. These tests can be inconclusive in some rare cases. For example, if the specialist obtains the specimen immediately after you take heroin, the drug may not appear during the examination.
- Clinical Interview – in this method, the medical professional asks you a series of systematic questions. Answering them truthfully can help the physician tell whether you have a heroin dependence. Persevere through uncomfortable questions as the doctor is only trying to help you.
If the tests show that you have a heroin addiction, do not despair. You can manage or overcome the consequences of heroin dependence with the right treatment.
Types of Treatment
Depending on the amount of heroin you use, your health, and the degree of addiction, there are various types of treatment available for heroin addicts. Your doctor examines your case and advise you on the appropriate combinations. The medical team typically uses medications and behavioral therapies to help you get better.
Studies show that you can effectively use specific medicines to help you through heroin detox and rehab. These medications reduce your craving for heroin and alleviate your suffering caused by withdrawal symptoms. Some act like heroin when taken, but are less powerful and addictive compared to heroin. Licensed professionals should prescribe these medications to you. Please do not attempt to use them to quit while on your own. You may develop a dependence on them or have other complications if you do not get your dosage right.
Medications you use to overcome addiction work in three ways. Antagonists block opioid receptors in your body and infringe on the rewarding outcome of using heroin. Partial agonists activate your opioid receptors but induce a smaller reaction while agonists activate your opioid receptors.
The medications you may get include:
- Naltrexone – blocks the effect of heroin, and it is not addictive.
- Buprenorphine – reduces your craving for heroin and does not cause the euphoria associated with heroin use.
- Methadone – induces a small reaction without causing the withdrawal effects associated with heroin use.
2. Behavioral Counseling
Behavioral therapies help you build the mentality you need to start and finish your heroin detox and recovery. The recovery process is challenging. You will face many challenges, such as risk or relapse, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, and lifestyle changes. Behavioral therapy prepares you for these challenges and ensures your attitude towards them is excellent. Some of the behavioral counseling you may get include:
a. Contingency management – this approach helps you avoid impulsive behavior by rewarding various milestones in your path to sobriety.
b. Individual therapy – sessions involve patients sharing their experiences and perceptions with counselors who help them change for the better.
c. Group counseling – sessions cover issues such as denial, forgiveness, aftercare planning, acceptance, and anxiety associated with recovery. Attending counseling with others facing similar challenges helps recovering addicts get inspired by what others go through because of heroin addiction.
d. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – this method involves recovering heroin addicts recognizing harmful patterns and counselors providing them the help they need to change them.
How to Help a Loved One with Heroin Dependence
If you or someone you care about is reliant on heroin, you need to seek treatment in a licensed addiction facility. Please do not wait for them to overdose or have permanent consequences. At Novo Detox we are ready to help heroin addicts overcome their dependence without complications. Our team of qualified personnel analyze a patient’s case and develop a treatment plan that is suitable for them. We supervise our patients throughout their treatment and help them through counseling and medications.
Novo Detox is an accredited addiction facility that offers drug and alcohol detox as well as rehab care in Los Angeles. With a 99% success rate, you can rely on our expertise to help overcome heroin addiction. We provide treatment via our inpatient and outpatient programs. Our facilities have the necessary equipment to provide you with the conducive environment you need to get better. We accept most of the insurance covers so you can focus on your recovery. Our doors are open 24/7, so you can check-in when you need to receive treatment.
Heroin addiction is a problem that affects many Americans today. Most people go through the adverse effects of dependence, such as health challenges, social difficulties, and financial issues, among others. Individuals that develop a reliance on it often need treatment to get better. If signs show that you or someone close to you is dependent on heroin, Novo Detox is here to help.
Novo Detox is a licensed drug and alcohol rehab center that provides the customized, holistic treatment that addicts need to recover fully. Our team of experts examine your case and develop a treatment plan that gives you the best chance of getting better without difficulties. We admit patients 24/7, and we accept most insurance covers.
Reach out to us today and let us help you overcome your heroin addiction.