Understanding Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction has been ravaging the United States since its beginning in the early 20th century. However, heroin use and deaths have been rising dramatically since 2002. Thousands of Americans struggle with heroin addiction every year due to the drug’s availability, potency, and highly addictive nature.

Considering the chemical makeup of the drug, how addiction manifests, and where to seek treatment are all crucial to facilitate healing on a more significant level. Here is some basic information regarding heroin addiction to help further the understanding of heroin addiction.

What Is Heroin?

Heroin is a type of opioid that comes from morphine. Opium poppy plants across the globe produce morphine that is then turned into heroin, usually appearing as a white or brown powder. The substance was first introduced in the United States as a pain reliever but was eventually banned due to its risk of addiction. Today, heroin is still illegal but is obtained by individuals for its desired effects, often leading to addiction.

How Is Heroin Used?

The majority of heroin users either smoke, snort, or inject the substance. Injecting is the most dangerous way to consume heroin, as there are additional disease risks from dirty needles. Overdose is also more likely when using the drug intravenously.

No matter how heroin is consumed, it travels to the brain quickly and produces a numbing effect, binding to the brain’s opioid receptors. The drug has both short and long-term effects and is highly addictive, which is why it is considered dangerous. Some individuals may combine heroin with crack cocaine. This is often referred to as speedballing.

The Effects of Heroin

People seek out and use heroin because of the euphoria or “rush” it causes. High levels of euphoria are typically experienced, but other side effects take place too. In the short term, individuals using heroin will usually experience:

  • Clouded thoughts or grogginess
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Warm flushing of the skin
  • Itching
  • Dry mouth
  • “Nodding off” i.e. drifting in and out of consciousness

Long term effects of heroin usually involve:

  • Lung complications
  • Insomnia
  • Damaged nasal tissue (if the drug is snorted)
  • Mental disorders
  • Stomach cramping
  • Collapsed veins (if the drug is injected)
  • Abscesses
  • Infections in the heart lining and valves
  • Liver and kidney disease

The Dangers of Heroin Addiction

Besides the adverse short and long-term effects of heroin, the drug is particularly dangerous because of its ability to travel through a person’s body rapidly. Because of this, overdose is highly likely, especially if the drug is injected.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 14,000 people died from heroin-involved overdoses in the United States in 2019. Severe addiction and death can be prevented, but more people must seek treatment.

Treating Heroin Addiction

When it comes to treating any addiction, early intervention is best. However, anyone can seek treatment and be successful in recovery given the proper tools and the right attitude. There are treatments available for heroin addiction, usually involving cognitive behavioral therapy and medication.

The first step for treating heroin addiction is to detox. This allows the body to eliminate any remaining traces of the drug from the body.

Due to the dangers involving heroin addiction, it is imperative to detox at an accredited facility rather than on your own. Doing so allows you to detox in a safe, comfortable environment without putting your health at risk. The detox process can take anywhere from 3-10 days. However, the withdrawal period may be longer depending on the amount and frequency of use and the severity of the addiction.

After detox, you may go to an inpatient treatment center to learn how to manage your addiction and develop healthy coping skills. Doing so gives you the tools you need to address any underlying causes of the addiction and helps to prevent relapse in the future.

Behavioral therapies commonly used include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and others. Some facilities also use medication-assisted therapy (MAT) to help you cope with withdrawal symptoms.

Life After Heroin Addiction

When you are stuck in the cycle of addiction, it may seem like you will be trapped in it forever. This is especially true for individuals struggling with heroin addiction because of the drug’s highly addictive nature. However, thousands of individuals have successfully recovered from heroin addiction and now live happy, healthy, productive lives. Sobriety will offer you a new chance to achieve your goals and make your dreams a reality. Reach out today and reclaim your life.

Heroin addiction can affect anyone from any background, occupation, gender, or neighborhood. It wreaks havoc on individuals’ lives, trapping them in a cycle that seems inescapable. However, learning about heroin addiction and its treatments can facilitate healing for those struggling. At the Detox Center of Colorado, we offer a safe and comfortable environment for you to begin your recovery journey. Our clients detox in a program that is tailored to their individual needs, directly addressing the substance use disorder and mental health. Nestled in the beautiful mountains of Colorado, you are sure to find peace at our facility. We will be with you every step of the way from start to finish during the detox process. Then, we will help you transition into the next phase of your recovery. To learn more about our program, call us today at (303) 952-5035. Your recovery begins at the Detox Center of Colorado.

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