Three years ago, around one million Americans used heroin which is nearly three times this figure in 2003. Heroin dependence deaths have gone up five times since the year 2000. Further research found out that heroin addiction increased over three times during the last decade. Whites (18 to 45 years of age) accounted for the significant growth in heroin dependence partly due to inappropriate use of Opioid prescription drugs. Meanwhile, the National Institute of Health revealed the misuse of prescription Opioid painkillers for non-medical purposes doubled within the past 10 years.
A Dose of Heroin
Heroin is classified as an illicit and highly addictive substance. It is obtained from Opium grown by the poppy plant and refined to morphine before being modified chemically. The end product is Heroin. Poppy plants are grown in countries of Southwest and Southeast Asia as well as Colombia and Mexico.
This is one of the widely abused drugs in the United States despite the high risks. Heroin goes to the brain at a fast pace and connects to Opioid receptors on cells all throughout the body. These are the receptors that have something to do with feelings of pleasure and pain as well as control of sleeping, breathing, and heartbeat.
The illegal drug is peddled and used in different forms including white and brown powder; sticky black tar heroin (from Mexico); and, solid or rock-hard black chunks. It can be injected, snorted, or smoked. Injections are made directly to the vein or muscle and beneath the skin. Effects of the street drug are fast and strong regardless of technique used. Thus, heroin overdose is always possible.
Reasons for Heroin Use
Officials of the National Institute on Drug Abuse said heroin dependence is the result of instant gratifying and warm feelings called “Rush.” Heroin is considered a “downer” because of the relaxed state it produces. This condition is associated with chemical changes in the brain’s nerve centers. Heroin users do not feel pain which is a distinct characteristic of opiates. Signs and symptoms may be hidden at the initial stage.
Even then, signs of heroin use become visible sooner or later. People getting addicted to heroin show the following at the early phase:
- Shortness in breathing and dry mouth
- Contracted small pupils
- Disoriented or confused actions
- Abrupt changes in behavior
- Sequence of manic alertness followed by sudden dozing off
- Tired appearance
The above-mentioned indications are not exclusive to heroin dependence. More specific signs of heroin misuse include the ownership of paraphernalia for preparation and consumption. These are needles and syringes; burned silver spoon; aluminum wrapper and straw with burned spots; pipes; and, small plastic sachet with powdery deposit.
The effects of heroin in terms of behavior are dishonesty; avoiding eye contact; garbled speech; lack of focus and motivation; and, loss of interest in regular activities. Once there is tolerance to said substance, the frequency and volume of use also increases which ultimately leads to heroin addiction.
Withdrawal symptoms occur after heroin users suddenly discontinue using the substance. The adverse effects trigger considerable anguish on the person’s life. Some of these symptoms consist of agitation, anxiety, bad temper, muscle pains, suicidal tendency, nausea, and sensitivity to pain.
There are no specific causes of heroin dependence although experts have named the following reasons:
- Genetics or Heredity – Addiction is more likely if other family members have developed dependence to this drug.
- Biological – Some people are not capable of producing sufficient natural endorphins in the brain thereby affecting the person’s mood. It can lead to abuse because of chemical discrepancy or imbalance.
- Psychological – The individual may have a basic and undiagnosed mental ailment like Bipolar disorder. This scenario prods the individual to opt for self-medication (alcohol or drugs) to ease the symptoms of this malady.
- Environmental – Youngsters reared in homes where there is lack of care or exposure to unwholesome conditions have greater chances of becoming addicted to heroin.
Residential Treatment Center
The possibility of relapse is very high. This usually happens during the first stage of recovery from addiction. Users can change their medications placing their health in jeopardy or buy from heroin dealers. These risks are eliminated in rehab centers. There are various treatment options such as therapies in the residential treatment facility.
It is not possible to predict heroin relapse but the rate of degeneration is a high of over 90% during the first three months of trying to stop drug use. It can also reach 50% if long-term methadone or buprenorphine opioid maintenance is not used during the process of recuperation.
Therapy sessions may be conducted in private which means only the therapist and patient are present in the room. Coaching and insight activities provide users personalized assistance to fast-track recovery. Another method is the group session which creates a sense of belonging for the patient. It helps the addict to become less solitary and strengthen communications with friends and members of the family.
Continuing aftercare incorporated into an inpatient rehab program is evaluated in months but the likelihood of reversion can extend to a few years. Persons with history of heroin addiction are obliged to choose long-standing relapse prevention programs. One example is taking part in the so-called 12-Step Group created by Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935. The goal of this program is to guide members in recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction. Since then, 12-step groups have been modified although the fundamental principles remain.
Use of Medications
Heroin abuse and addiction are exceptionally acute medical disorders. These cases call for experts in chemical dependence for opiate detoxification and withdrawal. Stopping long-term heroin dependence abruptly can set off severe clinical implications and death. It is not advisable to attempt heroin detoxification at home without the supervision of licensed physicians with experience in treating patients for heroin dependence or withdrawal. Prompt and correct use of prescribed medicines with guidance of medical specialists is an important component of recovery.