What is Heroin?: What to Know About Heroin Addiction

Healthcare providers at a heroin addiction treatment center, like Discover Recovery in Washington state, often treat people who started out by misusing or abusing prescription pain relievers like Vicodin or Oxycontin, went on to develop an addiction to them, and later switched to heroin because it is more easily available from street dealers. The rate of heroin initiation is estimated to be 19 times higher in people with prior misuse of opioid pain relievers. Roughly 8 out of 10 heroin users report using prescription pain pills in the past.

It’s important to seek timely care for a heroin addiction. Heroin overdoses are responsible for 15,000 deaths in the US each year. Entering a residential addiction treatment program in Washington can help individuals overcome their dependency on heroin. If you or someone you love could benefit from a program at a heroin addiction treatment center in Washington, read on to learn more about your options.

What is Heroin?

Heroin belongs to the same class of drugs as morphine and prescription pain medications like oxycodone and hydrocodone (Oxycontin, Vicodin). It is an opioid drug that is made from the poppy plant. Heroin is an illegal drug with no currently accepted medical use. Because of its extremely high potential for abuse and addiction, heroin has been classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule I drug. People obtain heroin from street dealers who sell it under names like hell dust, horse, big H, and smack. Repeated use of heroin can lead to addiction, requiring treatment at a heroin detox center.

Where Does Heroin Come From?

Heroin is made from the poppy plant. It is mainly produced in Afghanistan and Colombia. Afghanistan is the source of more than 90% of the world’s opium poppy supply.

Street dealers sell heroin under various names such as hell dust, smack, horse, and Big H. It comes in the form of a brown or white powder or sticky black tar heroin. A heroin addiction treatment center in Washington treats all kinds of heroin addicts, including those who inject, snort, sniff, and smoke the drug. A particularly dangerous practice called speedballing involves mixing heroin with crack/cocaine. People who use multiple drugs through such practices can suffer serious health complications. They should not attempt to quit cold turkey at home. Rather, they should seek care at a top-rated heroin addiction treatment center in Washington to safely quit using.

What is Heroin Addiction?

The human body contains natural opioids that mediate feelings of pleasure and pain relief. Heroin simulates these effects and produces an intense euphoria. With repeated use, a person needs higher or more frequent doses of heroin to get the same effects. This is known as tolerance. Also, in the absence of heroin, a regular user experiences unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Tolerance and withdrawal are key characteristics of heroin addiction and indicate the need for therapy at a heroin addiction treatment center in Washington.

Damaged nasal tissues in those who snort or sniff heroin

What are the Health Consequences of Heroin Abuse?

Heroin abuse can lead to many serious health complications. Besides the rush or high it produces, the drug use can cause unwanted side effects like flushing, dry mouth, heavy limbs, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, and itching. These symptoms are commonly noted in patients at a heroin addiction treatment center in Washington.

Besides the short-term effects, heroin use can also cause long-term health effects. For example, people who inject heroin may suffer from collapsed veins, sexual dysfunction, or skin abscesses. The drug can also lead to liver, lung, and kidney disease. Heroin abuse has been linked to antisocial behavior, depression, and serious health problems like HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Individuals with mental health conditions such as depression along with heroin abuse can benefit from treatment at a dual diagnosis heroin addiction treatment center in Washington.

How do you Know if Someone is Addicted to Heroin?

If you are unsure whether a loved one needs care at a heroin addiction treatment center in Washington, you should look out for the following signs and symptoms.

  • Unexplained euphoria
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Agitation, hostility, or irritability
  • Hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia

Physical signs of heroin abuse, such as small pupils, extremely itchy skin, scabs or needle marks on the skin, and poor hygiene, are other warning signs that indicate a person could benefit from medication-assisted treatment at a heroin addiction treatment center in Washington.

Many people who enter a drug rehab program at a heroin addiction treatment center in Washington are encouraged to seek help from a friend or family member who noticed something was amiss with their behavior. For example, a loved one may notice missing money, or colleagues may notice a decline in work performance.

Why is Heroin Addictive?

Heroin is an opiate that reproduces the feelings of pleasure and pain control that natural opioids in the body produce; however, heroin does this with much greater intensity. This addictive drug quickly enters the bloodstream and makes its way to the brain, where it binds with specific opioid receptors on the surface of brain cells. This produces an intense high that heroin abusers become accustomed to. That’s why people who show up at a heroin addiction treatment center often suffer from intense cravings for the drug.

What’s more, without the drug, they experience a range of withdrawal symptoms like flushed skin, itchy skin, dry mouth, heaviness of the arms and legs, nausea, and vomiting. Also, the drug affects thinking and can lead a person to alternate between consciousness and semi-consciousness – this is often referred to as “going on the nod.” The clinical team at a heroin addiction treatment center can manage and control these withdrawal symptoms and make quitting easier.

Many heroin users suffer from additional medical complications as a result of their drug abuse. For instance, people who inject heroin may have collapsed veins or skin abscesses. Heroin can also lead to kidney, liver, and lung complications that may need treatment or stabilization. These medical conditions can be managed simultaneously along with drug rehab at a heroin addiction treatment center.

Withdrawal Symptoms in Heroin Users

People who have been using heroin for a length of time may experience a range of symptoms when they attempt to quit using the drug. These withdrawal symptoms are the main reason heroin addicts are unable to quit without professional help and need to go to a heroin addiction treatment center in Washington.

Besides severe cravings, a heroin addict can experience extreme sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, goosebumps, muscle cramps, shaking of the legs, restlessness, fever, and insomnia. These symptoms can be managed at a heroin addiction treatment center in Washington to make the withdrawal process smoother and reduce the risk of relapse.

How Long Does Heroin Withdrawal Last?

Heroin withdrawal symptoms can surface and persist for about a week, but challenges like depression and cravings can extend beyond a week and may linger for several weeks. The first few days can be the hardest as the initial phase involves the brain and the body detoxing from the drug, marked by symptoms like excessive sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea that are a result of the release of accumulated toxins in the body from long-term use of the drug.

Once the brain gradually regains normal function, the body starts to recover from the effects of physical dependence and abuse. Recovering individuals can work with drug counselors and doctors during this phase and duly address co-occurring mental health and medical issues when the immediate effects have decreased. Here, a dual diagnosis treatment plan can be effective in dealing with mental health issues, enabling the individual to focus on their long-term recovery process. This approach facilitates a holistic substance abuse treatment, covering psychological and physical well-being.

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Heroin Withdrawal Timeline?

While the heroin withdrawal and recovery process varies for each individual, most heroin users will have the below general timeline. Doctors and therapists who assist with the recovery process will create individualized plans for effective treatment, factoring in the evolving needs of the recovering individual.

First 24 Hours

Symptoms that emerge within the first 24 hours of an individual’s last use may be mild or acute, depending on the substance abuse history and frequency. The symptoms may include restlessness, fatigue, and muscle aches and cramps.

Within 24-36 Hours

When 24 hours have passed, the withdrawal symptoms become can intensify. This phase, between 24-36 hours, marks the most dangerous period during the detox process, as most people will experience physical and psychological problems in this stage. Often referred to as the “make or break” point of withdrawal, the chances of a relapse are high, so supervision from a professional is necessary.

Days 4 – 6

Once the drug gets eliminated from the system, symptoms will diminish, but new or milder forms of substance use disorder may occur. For individuals who are dependent on the substance for prolonged periods or suffer from concurrent health problems, this period can be particularly challenging.

Seven Days and Beyond

By this time, most of the brain and biological functions are restored in most individuals, but those with severe cases may still struggle. After assessing the parameters, doctors can begin a new line of heroin withdrawal treatment for individuals who have shown improvement, which can help them deal with their mental and physical health problems.

Prescription Pain Pill Abuse and Heroin Addiction

Prescription pain medications like Vicodin,Suboxone, Oxycontin, Naloxone, Naltrexone, and Percocet are also opioids used to treat the effects of opioid overdose, but they have legitimate medical uses, unlike heroin. In the United States, heroin is classified as a Schedule I substance because of the high risk of addiction. Heroin is cheaper and more easily available from street dealers. An estimated 80% of heroin users have a history of prescription pain pill abuse in the past.

Overdosing on Heroin

A heroin overdose is a life-threatening condition that can be fatal. This is because opioid drugs like heroin, codeine, and fentanyl can slow down or stop breathing, thereby reducing oxygen supply to the brain, leading to permanent brain damage and coma, even death in severe cases. Timely treatment can prevent the risk of a heroin overdose.

Heroin Treatment Process

It can be dangerous to attempt to quit heroin at home without professional help. Care at a heroin addiction treatment center is necessary because it includes medically supervised detoxification. During this phase of drug rehab, the body is allowed to rid itself of heroin with interventionsby healthcare providers. This is essential to ensure the client’s safety and comfort.

Once a client has been stabilized with medical detox, they can move forward to the next phase of treatment at a heroin addiction treatment center. This typically consists of a range of behavioral therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that help recovering addicts learn the skills they need to stay drug-free and medications like methadone and buprenorphine. These skills help heroin addicts deal with triggers, cravings, and withdrawal symptoms. Individual counseling sessions and group therapy are used to teach heroin addicts strategies to prevent relapse in the future. A family therapy program may also be offered at a heroin addiction treatment center.

The best heroin addiction treatment center offers experiential therapies to make recovery easier. This can include things like support groups, yoga, meditation, and art/music therapy. The idea is to take a holistic approach to addiction treatment where every aspect of the client’s life is optimized. This type of comprehensive approach at a heroin addiction treatment center has proven benefits in ensuring lasting sobriety.

Discover Recovery Heroin Addiction Treatment Center

If you or a loved one has become addicted to heroin, don’t lose hope. This is a serious but treatable medical condition. The team at Discover Recovery heroin addiction treatment center can help you get clean and stay clean.

Discover Recovery is a leading Washington rehab staffed by a highly experienced team of board-certified physicians, masters-level counselors, and registered nurses. Many of our staff members are themselves prior addicts and understand what you are going through. The medical detox and residential rehab program at our heroin addiction treatment center is designed to help people like you get their lives back on track.

The treatment plan at our heroin addiction treatment center is customized for each client. We offer multiple levels of care to meet your needs. Treatment usually begins with medical detox, during which time we use various medications to make the withdrawal process easier. We also provide you with the psychological support you need to deal with cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Following stabilization, you will move to the residential program at our heroin addiction treatment center. During this phase of heroin rehab, we use a range of behavioral therapies to help you learn new skills and change unhealthy behaviors that put you at risk of relapse. Our effective group therapy sessions, individual counseling, and family therapy programs teach you strategies to kick the heroin habit for good. What’s more, we offer an aftercare program that provides ongoing support to reduce the risk of relapse.

If you or someone you love is battling heroin drug addiction, get in touch with Discover Recovery heroin addiction treatment center today. Make the call and take the first step towards a healthier, happier, drug-free future.

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