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Heroin Addiction Treatment

Heroin addiction is an extremely dangerous disease, with the potential of causing long-term health effects and potentially death. Due to this, it is vital for individuals suffering from heroin addiction to receive professional treatment. While the serious health risks associated with heroin abuse may seem obvious, once a person is addicted, it’s difficult to stop without treatment. Unfortunately, drug addiction is a disease that cannot be cured. However, it is managed and treated with extensive rehabilitation and ongoing care. Heroin addiction treatment involves medical detox, behavioral therapy, pharmacotherapy, aftercare programs, and support groups.

Heroin is an extremely addictive drug and addiction to heroin is known to be deadly. So much so, that it is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans every year. After long-term heroin abuse, the drug will chemically change an individual’s brain. This leads to cravings, risky behaviors, impaired reasoning, and difficult to handle withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately, heroin is cheap and vastly available. Due to this, heroin is often the last resort for individuals who suffer from opioid use disorder or first abused prescription drugs. Sadly, the longer someone abuses heroin, the more severe their addiction becomes. Considering all of these factors, it is important to seek help for heroin addiction before its too late.

What is Heroin Addiction?

Heroin (Diacetylmorphine) is an illicit form of opioid. This substance is known by several street names, such as boy, dope, or smack. Heroin is derived from morphine, which is a naturally occurring substance in opium. Morphine is known for its narcotic and pain-relieving effects. Additionally, this drug directly affects the areas of the brain responsible for pleasure and relaxation. As a result, this produces a euphoric high that people become addicted to.

Although the drug has no medicinal use today, it was originally marketed as a cough medication in the early 1900s. However, by 1912, Individuals began to abuse heroin recreationally. As a result, this caused addicts to desperately seek treatment just two years later. Today, heroin is a completely illegal substance. In fact, heroin is classified as a Schedule I substance. This indicates there is no medicinal use for heroin and it is known to be extremely habit-forming. Unfortunately, thousands of people abuse heroin despite the dangers of this substance.

Heroin Facts & Statistics

Heroin abuse has become a public health crisis. To explain, heroin is one of the main drugs of concern in the opioid epidemic that continues to damage the nation.

  • In 2018, nearly 15,000 people died from a heroin-related overdose.
  • Between 4-6% of people who abuse prescription opioids ultimately end up abusing heroin.
  • 80% of people who are addicted to heroin were addicted to prescription opioids first.
  • Opioid use disorder increases the risk of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, HIV, hepatitis C, and other long term health effects.

Signs of Heroin Addiction

Heroin, a narcotic, over-stimulates the reward systems in the brain. As a result, the drug is extremely addictive. Once an individual is addicted to heroin, the drug becomes their main priority. Additionally, individuals addicted to heroin will continue to get high despite any consequences they face. Because heroin is so deadly, it’s important to recognize the signs of heroin addiction so you can identify it in its early stages. Signs that an individual is addicted to heroin include:

  • Constricted pupils and flushed skin
  • “Nodding out” or fading in and out of consciousness when high
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug
  • Using the drug to avoid withdrawal symptoms
  • Spending a lot of time thinking about the drug, obtaining it, getting high, and recovering from its effects
  • Weight loss and track marks on arms
  • Mood swings, dishonesty, risky behaviors, and criminal activity
  • Paraphernalia like spoons, foil, and syringes
  • Using the drug even after experiencing consequences

Heroin can be abused in a variety of ways, including smoking and snorting the drug. However, IV heroin use is the most common. At the same time, IV heroin use is by far the most dangerous method of taking the drug. This is because the full dose hits the brain all at once – increasing the risk of overdose. In most cases, individuals begin heroin abuse by smoking or snorting the drug. As their tolerance builds up, injecting the drug becomes more and more appealing for attaining the instantaneous rush.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms and Timeline

Heroin withdrawal and opioid withdrawal are similar in nature, as people exhibit flu-like symptoms. The severity of symptoms and duration of withdrawal depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • How long someone has been abusing the drug
  • How much of the drug someone is used to taking
  • Age, weight, and gender
  • Mental health conditions
  • Pre-existing health conditions

Individuals may become addicted to heroin after only one week of using the drug. Once a person is dependent on heroin, they will experience symptoms of withdrawal when they stop using it.

Withdrawal Timeline

Heroin leaves the bloodstream quickly, as heroin is a short-acting opioid. As a result, withdrawal symptoms begin between 6-12 hours after the last dose. Individuals can expect the most severe withdrawal symptoms during days 2-3. However, most symptoms subside after 5-10 days.

Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal

As previously mentioned, heroin withdrawal is very similar to opioid withdrawal. If someone is addicted to heroin, they may experience any or all of the following symptoms during withdrawal:

  • Anxiety, depression, irritability
  • Goosebumps
  • Cold sweats
  • Insomnia and restlessness
  • Excessive yawning
  • Over-active tear ducts
  • Body aches
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Shaking
  • Fever
  • Fast heartbeat and rapid breathing
  • High blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Seizures and hallucinations are rare during heroin withdrawal. However, detoxification is unpredictable as the symptoms vary from person to person. In addition, these flu-like symptoms are extremely uncomfortable, causing quitting heroin to be difficult without medical assistance. While heroin withdrawal typically isn’t fatal,  individuals addicted to heroin should always seek help from a drug detox near them.

What is Medically-Assisted Heroin Detox?

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) involves the use of FDA-approved medications to help subside symptoms of withdrawal and reduce psychological cravings. Buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone are the only drugs approved to treat opioid use disorder. Numerous studies have proven the efficiency of MAT drugs when utilized in heroin addiction treatment programs. MAT is known to make the heroin detox process easier, as well as help support long-term recovery and sobriety.

Suboxone and Subutex are medications typically used in the detoxification process from heroin or other opioids. These medications contain small, weak amounts of opioids that bind to opioid receptors in the brain. As a result, the body is prevented from going into withdrawal. Typically MAT patients are tapered off of these drugs while they are in an inpatient detox program. However, some individuals continue to pursue early recovery while on these medications.

Detox programs include more than just medication management and MAT treatment. To explain, inpatient detox programs offer around-the-clock care and support for individuals addicted to heroin. Professional detox programs utilize medication-assisted treatment, counseling, behavioral therapy, and support groups. Additionally, staff is always ready to intervene in the event of a medical complication. The combination of each aspect of inpatient detox creates a foundation of recovery and support, allowing patients to fully recover from heroin addiction.

Treatment Programs and Aftercare

Medication-assisted detox is only the beginning of heroin addiction treatment. In fact, MAT must be accompanied by behavioral therapy, counseling, and aftercare. Substance abuse disorders like heroin addiction can be treated with a variety of different therapies. These therapies are typically provided in either an inpatient or outpatient program. Overall, the most important aspect of heroin addiction treatment is the use of evidence-based therapies. Additionally, these therapies must be individualized to meet each patient’s personal needs.

Inpatient Rehab for Heroin Addiction

It is recommended that recovering heroin addicts attend a residential or inpatient rehab program. Inpatient programs require patients to live at the treatment facility while they receive long-term intensive care. This form of treatment eliminates people, places, and things that trigger people to get high. Due to this, inpatient rehab is beneficial for people with serious substance abuse problems such as heroin addiction.

To continue, inpatient programs provide clients with a structured routine, 24/7 support, and an array of behavioral, holistic, and experiential therapies. In addition to therapy, heroin rehabs offer programs for mental health, life skills, exercise, spirituality, and leisure. This allows patients to not only recover from heroin addiction, but also any underlying causes of their substance use disorder.

Inpatient addiction treatment lasts anywhere from 30 to 90 days. The time of stay at a treatment center depends on each individual’s needs. Most of the inpatient programs begin with detox, ending with outpatient programming and aftercare support.

Outpatient Programming for Heroin Addiction

Intensive outpatient programming (IOP) and outpatient programming (OP) are the next levels of care recommended for people seeking help for heroin addiction. IOP and OP are similar, as the groups are ran the same as well as the therapies used. However, IOP requires more hours of treatment than OP. This helps ease a patient’s transition from inpatient treatment to aftercare.

Outpatient groups focus on relapse prevention, expanding coping skills, building relationships, and support group participation. Additionally, these programs reinforce the skills taught in residential rehab while providing ongoing support. Because early recovery is difficult for some, it’s important to participate in treatment until your clinician suggests otherwise.

Outpatient programs often include sober living, alumni programs, and 12-step groups. Additionally, outpatient rehab may last anywhere from one to several months depending on the individual’s needs.

Aftercare Support

Individuals who have completed their treatment plans are recommended to join a support group. Examples of support groups range from alumni programs and 12-step fellowships like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Heroin Anonymous (HA) to ongoing counseling or alternative recovery groups. Because each person is different and requires varying forms of support, it is vital to find what works for you.

Aftercare support allows recovering addicts to relate to and seek help from their peers in recovery. Individuals are able to learn from each other’s experiences, offer advice, provide emotional support, and participate in life-long fellowship. Research has shown that individuals recovering from heroin addiction have better outcomes if they take advantage of each form of addiction treatment available. This includes detox, inpatient, outpatient, and aftercare programs.

Find Help for Heroin Addiction Today

If you or a loved one is addicted to heroin, our heroin detox in South Carolina is here to help. Our treatment center and staff ‘s main priority is to ensure the safety of our patients and their loved ones.

“Our team is comprised of doctors, clinicians, therapists, mentors, and recovery coaches with decades of experience in the field. South Carolina Addiction Treatment is lucky to have some of the most qualified and personally experienced addiction specialists in the country. We pride ourselves on carefully selecting men and women who are not only thoroughly informed and knowledgeable about addiction, but also those who have personally experienced the trials and blessings of recovery themselves.”

South Carolina Addiction Treatment Center is here to help you with recovery every step of the way. From detox to treatment and aftercare, our team will support you and make recommendations based on proven clinical expertise. Contact us today to find help for heroin addiction.