Heroin is among the most addictive narcotics available anywhere in the world. Because of the ongoing crisis of opioid addiction in the United States, there is a greater and cheaper supply of this dangerous drug.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that heroin use has been on the rise since 2007.
Data from NIDA confirms this distressing trend about heroin addiction:
- Nearly 1 million people, in 2016, reported using heroin in the past year
- 170,000 people used heroin for the first time in 2016, almost double the amount of first-time users surveyed in 2006
- The number of people that met the criteria for heroin use disorder and addiction rose from just around 200,00 to more than 620,000 in just over a decade
Public perception about the kind of people who use, or have developed an addiction to heroin is generally flawed and inaccurate.
Research from the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows increases in heroin use across all genders, ages and income levels.
Even demographics that have previously had low rates of heroin use have spiked. These include women, those who are privately insured, and people at higher income levels.
People with a history of using prescription opioid medications for pain management due to injuries or medical procedures are especially vulnerable when it comes to heroin addiction.
Tightening restrictions on prescription painkillers has reduced the supply of opioid pills, forcing some people to turn to heroin as a means of avoiding painful opioid withdrawal symptoms.
At Pure Recovery, our Heroin Addiction Treatment Programs offer hope to those struggling with addiction.
After a safe, comfortable and medically supervised detox, Pure Recovery focuses on rebalancing brain chemistry using advanced brain imaging techniques, in concert with holistic treatments, like diet and exercise, to put our clients on a path to full recovery.
Why is Heroin so Addictive?
Heroin is fundamentally similar to other opioid medications, but because it has been chemically modified to react with the brain faster, it causes a much more powerful euphoria-producing “high.”
Made from morphine, a naturally occurring substance taken from the seed pods of certain types of poppy plants, heroin binds to receptors in the brain responsible for feelings of pleasure and pain reduction, essentially flooding the brain with euphoria-inducing chemicals.
The body, however, develops a natural tolerance to heroin, and other opioids, making it more difficult for users to achieve the same euphoric experience without taking increasing amounts of the narcotic.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Addiction?
One of the reasons heroin can be so addictive very quickly is due to intense withdrawal symptoms that cause users to feel physically ill as the effects of the drug wear off.
These withdrawal side effects are a clear sign that dependency and addiction to heroin has developed.
Some of the signs and symptoms of heroin addiction will vary in individuals, depending on the frequency and amount used, as well as the length of their dependency, but can include some of the following:
- Depression, anxiety and mood swings
- Nodding off to sleep at inappropriate times, sleeping more than usual, or seemingly always tired
- Lacking motivation or apathy about activities and events once enjoyed, including a decline in performance at work or school
- Avoiding friends and loved ones or running with a new set of friends all of a sudden
- Having paraphernalia such as syringes, spoons, lighters, straws for snorting, glass pipes, etcetera, as well possession of the drug itself
- A decline in personal hygiene, in addition to dressing in long shirts and pants, even in warm weather, to cover bruises or needle marks on the body
- Frequent respiratory infections, dilated pupils, dry mouth and slurred speech
Heroin Overdose Risks
The number of heroin and opioid overdose deaths has skyrocketed in the past decade.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that there were more than 70,000 opioid-related deaths in 2017 alone. This is due in large part, to the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl being mixed with heroin to make it even more potent, but also extremely dangerous.
Fentanyl is approximately 100 times more powerful than morphine and users are generally unaware if the heroin they’re using is laced with fentanyl or, for that matter, is cut with any other deadly substances.
Opioids are central nervous system depressants, and too much of these drugs can cause a person’s respiratory system to stop working, which is often the main cause of many fatal heroin overdoses.
Relapse, after a period of staying off heroin, is another common cause of fatal overdose. When a person abstains from using heroin for a period of time, their physical tolerance to the drug decreases.
Addiction, though, is a chronic relapsing disease of the brain, and if a person uses the same amount of heroin they used previous to a period of sobriety, the results are often fatal because the body cannot handle the same amount of the narcotic.
There is no safe way to use heroin. Injection, snorting or smoking are all potentially deadly simply because there is no way for users to know what exactly is mixed with the heroin.
Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
In a very short period of time, a person using heroin can get locked in a cycle of taking the drug to avoid intensely painful withdrawal symptoms. A fear of withdrawal and detox is usually a primary reason for people battling heroin addiction to avoid seeking treatment.
Heroin withdrawal symptoms can include some of the following:
- Fever, chills and cold sweats
- Runny nose and sneezing
- Severe abdominal cramps, diarrhea and vomiting
- Aches and pains in the body
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Intense depression or anxiety
At Pure Recovery, heroin withdrawal is medically supervised by a team of expert addiction doctors and therapists that keep clients safe and comfortable throughout the entire detox process.
Heroin Addiction Treatment
Though detox from heroin addiction is not usually fatal, it can be extremely painful and difficult.
The goal at Pure Recovery is to keep our patients safe and comfortable as they move through withdrawal and into the first stages of addiction recovery.
Our evidence-based recovery programs are specifically tailored to each client’s personal needs.
We use a wide variety of holistic treatments and proven therapies for successfully treating heroin addiction, including:
- Behavior Modification
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)
- Relapse Prevention
- Biofeedback Cognitive Programs
- Brain Imaging
- Nutrition and Exercise Programs
Our comprehensive recovery program is specifically designed to support those with traumatic brain injury or other types of injuries.
Our goal is to focus on healing the brain to overcome the disease of addiction and improve overall health through integrated emotional support and holistic therapies.
There is no shame in addiction and we work with our clients to remove the stigma and reclaim a healthy life.