What You Need to Know
The opioid epidemic is still at large, as approximately two million Americans have developed an addiction known as an opioid use disorder (OUD). Due to their highly-addictive nature, opioids have killed more than 350,000 people in the last 20 years due to overdose-related incidences. Detox is often necessary to combat this addiction.
Repeated use of heroin, a form of opioid, often leads to physical drug dependency and addiction, despite the consequences. A large part of the re-emergence and rise in heroin use has been mainly due to the switch from other prescription opioids to illicit substances. Nowadays, heroin is more easily accessible than prescription opioids and is a cheaper option.
Although, while that is true, what people fail to understand or ignore, is that the risk and probability of becoming addicted to a drug such as heroin are even higher. Therefore, to recover, professional help is needed at a recovery center.
At Sana Lake Recovery Center in Missouri, our addiction professionals treat and save the lives of people with an opioid use disorder (OUD) as a result of using heroin. UItilizing methods of treatment such as drug detox, we strive every day to get one step closer to dramatically reducing the severity of this opioid epidemic and the continuous cycle of addiction.
What is Heroin?
Derived from morphine, Heroin is a highly addictive opioid. Heroin is an illegal illicit drug classified as one of the most potent analgesics used to treat chronic pain. The drug is commonly injected, smoked, or snorted. Also, known as Black Tar, heroin gets this name due to its color and sticky texture.
The purest form of the drug is white, but truth is, it is never pure. Heroin is often mixed with other substances such as fentanyl, another form of opioid, can often be up to 50 times stronger and deadlier than morphine. Deadly is right, as this mixture is all too common, and the result of almost all overdose-related deaths.
Heroin Risk Factors
The strongest risk factor for heroin use and addiction is a history of use. Those with a family history of addiction or abusing prescription opioids in the past year are more likely to become addicted to heroin.
During the height of the opioid epidemic in 2010, heroin killed over 3,000 people, surpassing deaths caused by car accidents. People who use heroin for the first time do have a strong chance of becoming hooked on it. Research shows, that using heroin will lead to the use of at least one other drug.
It is important to note, that not everyone who takes prescription opioids becomes addicted. While that is true, evidence has shown that as a result of constant use, people do commonly develop an opioid use disorder (OUD), due to heroin’s potency and highly addictive nature.
This proves even further, that not only is there a widespread opioid epidemic, but the evolution of opioid use has played a significant role in the growth and re-emergence of heroin use, leading to dependency and addiction.
Heroin Addiction is On the Rise
The answer for people becoming addicted to prescription painkillers such as OxyContin is partly because they have been easily accessible since the 1990s. In recent years, while the opioid epidemic continues to be in full effect nationwide, times have changed. Around two million Americans are addicted to opioids, and a large part of that is thanks to heroin.
Today, data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reveals, that the popularity of heroin has skyrocketed, replacing prescription opioids, becoming the newer drug of choice. Heroin has been classified as one of the most used in the United States and still is to this day. Not to mention, the illegal illicit drug is also deemed one of the most dangerous.
Despite some variation from year to year, according to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health, results have shown that in recent years, the use of heroin amongst men and women has increased dramatically over the past decade.
The National Survey also showed that 94 percent of people with an addiction to opioids had switched from prescription painkillers to heroin because prescription medications are more expensive and harder to get.
As the use of heroin has increased, so have the amount of heroin-related deaths due to overdose. To put things into perspective, in 2017, over 49,000 people reported that they used heroin. Out of this number, over 15,000 died from an overdose. That equates to almost five deaths a day for every 100,000 Americans.
Treatment for Heroin Addiction: Detox
Understanding how the opioid crisis began and has developed is also a key way to measure which interventions and treatment methods are working, and which ones have failed. To treat heroin addiction, health experts have been making progress on trying to find a way to combat this ever-evolving pattern of substance use, through preventative strategies and treatment methods.
When something doesn’t go as planned, that means adjustments need to be made. The body works the same way. When someone regularly drinks or misuses drugs, the body is so dependent on those substances. For those suffering from addiction, the first step of receiving treatment in inpatient or outpatient rehab is called the detoxification process.
How Does Heroin Affect the Mind and Body?
Addiction is a disease that affects both the brain and body. In medical terms, specialists like to call it the mind-body connection. When someone is suffering from drug addiction, in this case, heroin, the use of opioids alters one’s brain chemistry according to the National Institutes of Health.
The body becomes dependant on the drug, creating a euphoric like state. The power and addictive nature of heroin are what people underestimate, and before they know it, they are hooked and don’t know how to stop.
During detox, addiction specialists aim to rid the body of the harmful substance or toxin with the assistance of anti-craving medications, such as naltrexone, methadone, and buprenorphine. This is often accompanied by various types of therapy, including counseling and behavioral therapy.
Since the body is very used to or dependant on the drug such as heroin being in the system, it is not used to this unconventional way of detoxing. Therefore, during this process, individuals struggling with a heroin addiction need to learn how their body works without the opiate in their body.
During detox, the body has a hard time adjusting, which causes the brain to crave the drug. This occurrence results in distress, otherwise known as withdrawal. These symptoms are the manifestation of uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms such as:
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Muscle weakness and joint pain
With the help of drug detox at Sana Lake, individuals can safely detoxify their bodies of heroin in a short amount of time. However, everyone and their cases of addiction are different, and therefore, treatment methods will vary.
Withdrawal symptoms can last up to six months or longer. Unfortunately, with any addiction problem, the probability and reality of relapse are real. For those addicted to heroin, relapse can occur even years after detox, meaning no longer being dependent on the drug.
Signs of Heroin Use
If someone you may know may be addicted to heroin, here are some signs to look out for:
- Talking about drugs
- Engaging in risky behavior
- Requiring heroin to function
- Extreme weight loss
- Constricted and bloodshot eyes
- Secretive behavior
- Changes in appearance
- Lack of motivation
- Extreme drowsiness or nodding off
- Financial problems, borrowing money
People don’t realize that when they start experimenting with drugs, the brain soaks it up like a sponge. The chemistry between the mind and body become altered. Once dependant on the drug, quitting is not as easy as one may think, as the body is now craving a substance.
Looking from an outside perspective, it may be difficult to tell if a loved one is using heroin, as it produces a euphoric effect, where it may appear that a person is functioning normally when they are high. Self-help is dangerous and not recommended.
Help is Available at Sana Lake Recovery Center
Heroin is a powerful drug that takes the lives of millions of people. While some individuals are lucky enough to ask or receive help, others, unfortunately, do not have the luxury of receiving the help that they needed, as it was too late. However, we want you to know that it doesn’t have to be that way. Here at Sana Lake, help is available.
The addiction specialists at Sana Lake Recovery Center in Missouri are here to provide high-quality care, helping those with opioid use disorders (OUD), recover and become clean. Our evidence-based treatment methods such as detox have proven to be successful, helping to reduce and prevent deaths due to heroin overdoses one-step-at-a-time.
You can reach our addiction treatment specialist by contacting us here.