Heroin Addiction Treatment

Heroin Addiction Treatment

Heroin is a highly addictive illegal form of opium, which can be taken in a variety of different ways. Inducing a relaxing euphoria, heroin can change the pleasure centers in the brain quite rapidly and alter the way pain is perceived. It’s because of this that it’s so addictive – offering users escapism and pleasant feelings they want to recreate again and again, despite the health and social problems it causes.

Physical signs of heroin use include:

  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Drowsiness and seeming “spaced out”
  • Small pupils
  • Dry mouth
  • Breathlessness
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Needle track marks on the arms

Due to its profoundly addictive properties, those who become dependent on heroin often abandon every other aspect of their life to focus on heroin. School, work or study, as well as friends and hobbies and interests, will lose all importance.

Behavioral signs of heroin use include:

  • Lying and deceiving those around them to hide their addiction
  • Stealing money or valuable items to fund the habit
  • Lack of interest in hobbies, seeing friends and work
  • Hostility towards people and withdrawing from the world
  • Lack of motivation
  • Bad performance at school or work, being suddenly fired or not going at all
  • Lack of personal hygiene or “letting themselves go”
  • Apparatus such as needles and syringes, tin foil or burned silver spoons (all used in different methods of taking heroin)

What are the dangers of heroin use?

Heroin dependence carries the threat of many serious side effects, some immediate and others, which can cause long term health conditions or even death. Heroin’s illegality means that the main way to source it is on the street, so the purity and quality can never be guaranteed. Some health problems linked to heroin use are partly because of the potentially toxic and unknown substances it’s cut with before sale.

Short term side effects

  • Shallow breathing
  • Poor mental function
  • Apathy and lack of energy
  • Itching

Long term side effects

  • Heart problems
  • HIV and Hepatitis (from sharing needles)
  • Blood clots
  • Liver problems
  • Seizures
  • Rheumatologic problems
  • Pneumonia and lung conditions

Treatment for heroin addiction

Heroin use causes neurochemical changes in the brain, making users addicted to its effects. Breaking this cycle is made all the more difficult by how painful and unpleasant the heroin withdrawal treatment can be.

Many addicts continue to use because of their fear of the profound withdrawal effects, which can start after just a few hours.

Heroin withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Intense heroin cravings

Various medications such as Methadone and Buprenorphine have been used to treat heroin addiction for years, reducing cravings and improving recovery success rates. It is often the dependency and addiction which causes people to relapse.

Heroin addiction treatment centers and programs can provide addiction management therapy as well as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and change the way addicts think about their addiction. Everyone’s treatment needs to be different and according to their specific needs.

Assessing and tackling the underlying mental health issues that may have led to the addiction in the first place is crucial. Recovery might seem like a huge undertaking when a patient initially starts their heroin addiction treatment, but relapse can be prevented if recovery is tackled one manageable step at a time by dedicated professionals.


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