Heroin is categorized as a class-A drug and is widely considered one of the most addictive and therefore dangerous illegal drugs. It is an opiate, made from morphine and originated from poppy seeds. There can exist some confusion between morphine, which is still a common treatment for people who are in severe pain or unable to sleep, and heroin, which is a much stronger version of morphine; medically known as Diamorphine.
One of the main reasons heroin is so highly addictive is that the body quickly builds a tolerance to the drug, meaning that a person will need to increase the dosage and frequency of use to feel the same high they felt when they began using; sometimes known as “chasing the dragon”. While the initial feelings of heroin may seem appealing, both short-term and long-term effects of the drug can be extremely distressing; including chronic urges to itch your skin, potentially resulting in broken skin and sores, muscle aches and pains, and blood diseases, liver disease, and blood clots.
Heroin Addiction Treatment
Cornerstone is passionate about providing heroin addiction treatment from highly qualified practitioners to anyone who requires help and support in beating their addiction. We understand that a person is not defined by their addiction and everyone deserves a chance to live a happy healthy life. By engaging with Cornerstone’s treatment program this can be a reality for you or your loved one.
It is a difficult, but important first step to recognize that help and support are necessary to be free from heroin addiction. Heroin has the capacity to negatively impact all aspects of life; behavioral, psychological, social, and physical. Cornerstone is here to help you recover each element of your life; it is likely that with heroin addiction it is necessary to engage in an inpatient program due to the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
Treatment for heroin addiction at Cornerstone is personalized to the individual and includes a wide variety of therapeutic modalities that help expose the causes of addiction, toxic behavior patterns that lead up to or result from addiction, and to show a clear path forward that’s free of addiction. This is only possible because we take the time to work with patients to determine a mutually agreed-upon plan that reflects the unique situation. One size does not fit all when it comes to heroin recovery and Cornerstone recognizes this and works it into every aspect of our care.
Free Heroin Addiction Assessment
Heroin recovery and the reclaiming of one’s life from the grips of addiction starts with an initial assessment of a prospective patient. We keep this assessment free because it lowers the barrier to entry for those suffering from addiction and their loved ones to start the recovery process. There is a slew of different markers for heroin addiction - some easy to recognize, others not. If you suspect that you or someone you care about is addicted to heroin, Cornerstone will provide a confidential, professional assessment to help you understand the risks and the possible paths forward. This includes addressing a prospective patient’s near-term and long-term questions and concerns about heroin recovery so that there is a full understanding of the process and benefits of quitting heroin for good.
Methods of Taking Heroin
The most common way to use heroin is to inject it intravenously, however, it can also be smoked, snorted, or inhaled as well. All of these methods send the drug into the brain almost immediately. Once the drug reaches the brain it is changed to morphine and binds to opioid receptors found in the brain. These receptors are similar to those that identify pain in the body and others that are necessary to live.
In order to maintain the same high that may have been experienced at the primary stages of drug use, usage is often increased in volume and in frequency. Subsequently, dependence and addiction develop and can lead to a plethora of physical and psychological conditions or fatal overdose.
What is Heroin Addiction?
Despite being an illegal and extremely addictive drug and the associated health risks, heroin use and addiction affects nearly 9 million people, and likely many more. People that use heroin are often aware of the negative social, physical, and psychological effects of the drug, but nevertheless continue to use the drug. Frequent users will come into financial issues, experience an inability to get or hold down a job or develop and maintain relationships or interests.
As the drug enters the brain, the depressant chemicals elicit feelings of euphoria and relaxation in the user. Such as with drugs with similar chemical compounds, heroin prevents the ability to feel pain, producing a feeling of detachment and numbness and therefore masking any unpleasant physical or mental feelings such as anxiety or pain. For those who have experienced traumatic events, this can be used as a form of escape; for this reason, heroin use easily transforms into dependency and addiction.
It might be possible to hide indicators of heroin use initially. However, due to the significant and severe short and long-term effects of the drug, those closest to the user are likely to notice changes over time. Symptoms of heroin addiction include constricted pupils, preoccupation, shallow breathing, or shortness of breath. Paraphernalia such as burned foil, spoons, and a change in mood and behavior can also be strong indicators that a person is suffering from heroin addiction.
It becomes much more difficult to stop using heroin as tolerance builds and usage increases. Increased use introduces several obvious physical signs of heroin addiction, such as extreme weight loss, abscesses, bruises, and infections where needles have entered the skin. Due to the rapid weight loss, women can stop menstruating which can permanently affect fertility.
When heroin use has phased from dependence to addiction, it begins a perilous progression of needing the drug to perform even the most basic tasks or think clearly and rationally. It can feel incredibly daunting to consider stopping the use of heroin due to the extreme withdrawal effects; this is why it is important to seek help and support from medical and specialist professionals when beginning the detoxification process. Without appropriate medical assistance, withdrawal can evoke potentially lethal complications.
What Causes Heroin Addiction?
There is no fixed cause for becoming addicted to heroin. However, there are risk factors that may increase the likelihood of heroin addiction:
- History of addiction in your immediate family
- A neurological disorder that inhibits the natural production of endorphins.
- Proximity to and familiarity with a person doing heroin
- Pre-existing or co-existing mental health conditions
What are the Symptoms of Heroin Addiction?
Persistent and prolonged heroin use can lead to addiction, along with a variety of serious health issues and conditions. The risk of HIV or Hepatitis B or C is largely increased by sharing needles or any other kind of apparatus that may leave traces of blood. Long-term users of heroin may endure chronic constipation along with other digestive issues, diseases of the kidneys or liver, or infection of the heart lining or valve.
If drug use has begun to take priority over basic survival needs, such as nutrition, there is often a dramatic weight loss that can lead to malnutrition, leading to further health complications. Those that choose to smoke heroin are at risk of respiration complications, chest infections, and congested lungs.
The pain relief appeal of heroin or suppression of negative emotions along with a fear of withdrawal symptoms can result in a person feeling trapped and helpless in their addiction, thereby continuing the risks to one’s health and wellbeing. In some cases withdrawal symptoms begin to take effect as soon as a few hours, thereby tightening the vicious cycle of addiction.
Symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:
- Powerful urges to use heroin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Intense muscular and bone pain
- Agitation or uncontrollable shaking
- Trouble sleeping, or insomnia
- Irregular body temperature or cold sweats
- Prolonged limb cramps
These symptoms can be present for between a few days and a few weeks, while cravings can persist for several months. As previously mentioned, these withdrawal symptoms can be potentially fatal, highlighting the importance of a detoxification program to ensure that withdrawal is safe, assisted by a medical professional to reduce the risks appropriately, and manage the symptoms carefully.
Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Addiction
The most obvious signal that someone is struggling with heroin addiction is noticing paraphernalia, or evidence of drug use to smoke, inject or snort heroin. Signs of this include:
- Unexplained needles or syringes
- Metal spoons with evidence of being burnt
- Shoes missing shoelaces, or drawstrings missing from hoodies or tracksuit bottoms (used as a makeshift tourniquet)
- Plastic bags, or similar with white powder residue
- Burnt foil or gum wrappers
The person you care about may certainly be putting a great deal of effort to hide their drug use or the extent of their use. Changes in behavior can be as evident as the appearance of the paraphernalia of heroin addiction, such as:
- Being unwilling to disclose, or being dishonest about their whereabouts or reasons for needing or not having money
- Appearing withdrawn, unmotivated or apathetic
- Spending more time alone, or needing more sleep than what was previously considered normal
- Neglecting personal hygiene or usual appearance
- Distancing themselves from social events, family, and friends
- Wearing clothes that do not match the weather; for example, long-sleeved t-shirts on hot days, to cover scars or marks from injections, or skin irritations
- The suddenly reduced motivation for work, impaired performance, or loss of employment
- Lower self-esteem than usual, evidence of self-deprecation
- Committing crime for monetary purposes, or stealing money from loved ones
Heroin Withdrawal and Detox Program
Cornerstone’s heroin addiction treatment program starts with a medically assisted withdrawal detoxification at our rehabilitation center. It is important that this is done under medical supervision because sudden withdrawal from heroin can cause severe health complications and can be fatal.
The duration of the withdrawal and detox process can vary between a few days or a few weeks; dependent on the degree of heroin use. The detoxification process at Cornerstone will be assisted by a medical professional who will be prepared for any complications and be as straightforward as possible.
Find out more about our Heroin Detox Program, call us now: (714) 547-5373
Co-Existing Mental Health Conditions
People that suffer from heroin addiction are also often living with an undiagnosed or co-occurring psychiatric disorder. It could be the case that the condition being left undiagnosed or treated is exacerbating the addiction, fueling the need to relieve the symptoms with heroin.
Examples of mental health issues that might be co-existing with heroin addiction are:
- Bipolar disorder
- Alcohol abuse
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Conduct disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Anti-social personality disorder
During the course of heroin addiction treatment, if any mental health conditions are identified they are treated following the detoxification process. If the symptoms of an underlying mental health condition acted as a motivation to take heroin (or played a key part in addiction), it is likely that if left untreated, these symptoms will act as a trigger to continue heroin use, even after the detoxification period. Treating these conditions will greatly improve the chances of a sustained recovery.
Why Choose Cornerstone for Heroin Addiction Treatment?
Cornerstone is committed to delivering exemplary care and support to those that seek help from us and trust us to guide them through the recovery process. We understand that a person is not defined by their addiction and everyone deserves a chance to live a happy healthy life. By engaging with Cornerstone’s treatment program this can be a reality for you or your loved one.
We recognize how difficult taking the first step to recovery can be and that the process of breaking free of addiction needs to be centered around the addict. Heroin addiction is a destructive and pervasive force in a person’s life and Cornerstone is here to help stop addiction and start you on the road to sober living. Every element of a heroin addict’s life is negatively transformed by addiction, we work with patients to retake ownership of behavioral, psychological, emotional, and social aspects of their life.
Here are some of the things you can expect from Cornerstone’s care of heroin addicts:
- Specialized professional knowledge and understanding from our highly trained, non-judgemental, and caring staff that comprise our treatment teams. These professionals are well trained and fully understand what is necessary to help people recover from heroin addiction, providing you with the very best care and support available.
- Personalized support from our professionals, who understand that addiction treatment is not “one size fits all” and must be responsive and proactive to meet the unique needs of those suffering from heroin addiction. Cornerstone is dedicated to providing a treatment plan that is specifically customized to help you.
- A thorough and complete care package that aims to ensure you have the tools you need to achieve a sustainable recovery in its entirety. In order to do so, we have a substantial selection of services that can be included in your heroin addiction treatment program.