Heroin is an illegal substance that is created from morphine. Morphine is extracted from the poppy flower, where it occurs naturally. Heroin abuse has been increasing steadily over the past decade. Between the years of 2002 and 2012, the number of people who met criteria for being addicted to heroin doubled. Since then, it has been steadily increasing. We are seeing an ever-increasing number of heroin overdoses resulting in death. It is believed that this is because a purer form of heroin has surfaced that is stronger than that previously available. Not realizing the strength of it, more young adults are taking the same amount, and this is resulting in overdosing. The age group that has been showing increased abuse is that of 18-25 year-olds. The highly addictive nature of heroin and the fact that many users inject it directly into a vein makes it one of the most dangerous drugs today.
Dangers of Heroin Addiction
In addition to the physical and psychological addiction caused by heroin abuse, there are other dangers that can present themselves. These are things that are related to the abuse and addiction rather than the actual drug. By the time you seek treatment for heroin addiction, you have put yourself at risk of:
- Developing Hepatitis C2 from the sharing of needles
Long-Term Side Effects
The psychological effects of a heroin addiction include depression and mood changes. It is the physical toll heroin takes on your body that is even more devastating. The physical effects of long-term heroin abuse are many. You lose your appetite and experience chronic depression. Your heart starts breaking down as more and more veins collapse and your lungs find it difficult to function properly. You may find that pustules form on your face and your teeth begin to fall out. Your immune system finds it impossible to function correctly and you end up catching everything that goes around. Partial paralysis may eventually set in. Eventually, your body starts to shut down and you may fall into a coma. Death eventually results. Before this happens, you or a loved one may reach out to a heroin rehab center.
Going Through Heroin Withdrawal
Heroin addiction treatment begins with getting the drug out of your system. It is said that withdrawal from heroin can’t kill you. Technically, it is one of the easier withdrawals physically. Although it has been said that withdrawing feels like the worst case of flu you have ever been through, complete with fever, chills, nausea, and diarrhea. Withdrawal symptoms often also include restless legs that jerk without notice. You may feel like you are physically dying with the intensity of the physical symptoms, but they aren’t as dangerous as many other drug withdrawals.
Yet, heroin withdrawal, especially among those who choose to try and withdraw alone rather than with the help of a heroin rehab center, has been the factor in many deaths. How does this come about? The psychological part of heroin addiction is very strong, stronger than with many other drugs. The craving for heroin is so strong during withdrawal that many individuals give in and get high. Others, are so distraught emotionally, wanting to quit yet wanting the drug and adding this to the physical symptoms, it becomes too much emotionally. Depression is often intense when going through withdrawal and so are suicidal thoughts. It is this psychological addiction that often requires the use of other medication to detox. It is gentler on the system than going cold turkey.
Using Drugs for Detox
Heroin treatment centers vary in how they help you go through detox. It has been shown that using some form of replacement drug that is monitored and then slowly decreased and stopped, often results in a better chance of people continuing in heroin rehab and getting and staying clean. There are two popular approaches to this type of intervention.
- A combination of the two is sometimes used. This allows you to go through an easier physical withdrawal, while at the same time continuously reducing the pleasure the drug creates.
Further Treatment for Heroin Addiction
Once you or your loved one has gotten through the physical detox, the heroin rehab program begins to concentrate on the strong psychological part of the addiction. If heroin use has been minimal and over a short time, your doctor may suggest outpatient treatment for this part. The longer you have been using heroin, and the higher the dosage, the chances for healing are often better increased with an initial period as an inpatient. This helps you have the chance to learn how to handle the cravings and live your life drug-free. To a clean heroin addict, this is sometimes like learning a whole new culture. Heroin treatment centers make it possible to avoid “culture shock” by gradually exposing you to the world you will be returning to eventually.
Looking to the Future
A life free of heroin addiction will find you healthier, both physically and emotionally. You will once again have a chance to face the world with pride in yourself and dreams for the future, dreams that are now possible. It won’t always be easy, but you don’t have to face it alone. You will find it well worth the effort.