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Heroin Addiction

Heroin is a class A drug and widely considered one of the most addictive 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 much stronger version of morphine; medically known as diamorphine.

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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 and 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, 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 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 is 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.

Cornerstone’s treatment for heroin addiction includes intensive group and one to one therapy, as well as a vast array of other therapeutic modalities to help uncover the root cause of your addiction. We understand that each person is unique, and your personal needs will be taken into account when designing the most effective treatment plan.

Our dedicated specialist teams will work to identify toxic patterns of behavior and what impact the addiction has had on the addicted person’s relationships and lifestyle, as well as the impact the addiction has had on the addicted person’s loved ones. By achieving this understanding it can be possible to make amends with loved ones; as we know the support from loved one’s and a secure support system can help increase the chances of sustained recovery.

Free Heroin Addiction Assessment

Group of people visiting course of psychological therapyIf you have concerns that you, or a loved one may be suffering from a heroin addiction, Cornerstone can offer a free, totally confidential addiction assessment. There are many different indicators that a person may be struggling with heroin addiction, and it can be a great relief to discuss these with an experienced professional. This assessment provides a safe, non-judgemental space to discuss what options are available, and best for you or your loved one. A highly experienced, qualified practitioner will go through the assessment with you, with plenty of opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

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. 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 experienced at the primary stages of drug use, usage is often increased in volume and in frequency. Subsequently, dependence and addiction develops 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 continue to use the drug. Frequently 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 affects of the drug, those closest to the user are likely to notice changes over time. Symptoms of heroin addiction include constricted pupils, preoccupation, and 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.

Drug user - depressed man feel very sad

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 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 the 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 not necessarily a determined, fixed cause for heroin addiction. However, much research has focused on what could make a person more susceptible to heroin dependency and addiction than others. Research studies have found that the following factors can increase the chances of a person developing an addiction to heroin;

  • If you have a member of your immediate family that struggles with addiction, research has shown that this increases the risk of developing a drug addiction due to hereditary factors that are aligned with addiction, as opposed to people with no history of addiction in their family
  • A biological theory has stated that if a person’s brain is not able to produce sufficient amounts of natural endorphins that usually occur naturally when we exercise, eat food we like or spend time with loved ones. If it is not possible to feel these naturally, a person is more likely to find another source of these “feel good” chemicals.
  • Environmental factors; including living with someone with an addiction or being subjected to witnessing heroin use, or the behaviors caused by heroin addiction from a young age, it can teach a person that this is normal behavior, and not recognize dangerous risks associated with drug use and see heroin use as a normal response to stressful events
  • Heroin use can be used to self-medicate or disguise the symptoms of a pre-existing, or co-existing mental health condition; such as anxiety, depression, stress or panic disorder, this is especially likely if the disorder has not been formally identified, diagnosed or treated.

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.

Depressed young woman lying in bed and feeeling upset after quarrel with her boylfriend in bed at home

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
  • Diarrhea

These symptoms can be present from 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 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 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 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 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
  • Sudden 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 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 with care, as sudden withdrawal from heroin can cause severe complications and can be fatal.

This process can last between a few days and a few weeks; dependent on the extent of heroin use. The detoxification process will be most likely assisted by a medical professional who will be prepared for any complications, and to 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;

  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • 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, these will be 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. By treating these conditions it will greatly improve the chances of a sustained recovery.

Why Choose Cornerstone for Heroin Addiction Treatment?

Cornerstone is committed to deliver 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.

It is a difficult, but important first step to recognize that help and support is 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, behavioral, physiological, emotional and social. In order to encompass and transform each element of recovery, we offer the following;

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.

Bespoke 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 provide 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.


Our former clients say it best...

Dr. Stone, I am so grateful to your program and also your generosity. I was a hopeless addict who believed there was no way of getting clean. Thanks to my sister and Cornerstone staff, I recently took my 90 day chip in N.A. Thanks, my life has been changed.
~ Isaac C.

“This was the best foundation I could have asked for to be sober. My case manager was the Best!! She showed me your life can be exciting and sober.”
~ Tina H.

It is the truly caring staff that makes Cornerstone the best rehab I have been to. The best part was finally getting my depression medications right, after many others tried for 2 years.
~ Jim V.

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