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Heroin addiction is a highly prevalent and potentially dangerous condition frequently associated with many unpleasant symptoms and distressing effects. It has the ability to cause serious problems in all aspects of life, such as emotional, psychological, and physical well-being. Heroin is a strong opioid drug derived from morphine and is commonly smoked, injected, or snorted to experience a euphoric rush and pleasure that ultimately tempts individuals into abusing it.

Since the devastating effects of heroin addiction can quickly get a hold on all aspects of an individual’s life, it is essential to identify and manage this problem in time. Fortunately, many heroin addiction clinics and centers in different parts of the United States offer high-quality treatment and therapy that empower these individuals to overcome their addiction and resume their drug-free lives.

Heroin Addiction treatment

Researchers are yet to pinpoint a single cause for heroin addiction. For now, most of them believe it to be multifactorial as several factors work together to contribute to its development. Some of the most common factors leading to heroin addiction may include the following:

Genetics

While genetics do not play a role in perpetuating the use of heroin, they can make an individual more vulnerable to becoming an addict once they start using heroin. In general, people with a close family member, like a first-degree relative, struggling with a substance use disorder are more likely to develop an addiction at some point in life.

Brain Chemistry

Experts believe that using any drug repeatedly, including heroin, changes the way the human brain feels pleasure. This ongoing use also induces physical changes to different nerve cells in the brain, which causes disruption and alteration in the way the brain communicates with its cells. This disruption also forces individuals to use more drugs to make up for the consequent changes.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors seem to play a massive role in determining the risk of heroin addiction in an individual. A person who grew up with addicted parents or spent a significant portion of their life among people who encourage drug use is at a much higher risk of developing an addiction later in life. For example, someone who grew up in a household where people commonly relied on drugs as a way to cope with negative emotions may become desensitized to drug use. They may also learn that drug use is the best way of handling negative emotions and situations.

Psychological Factors

Many people, especially the ones fighting undiagnosed or untreated mental illnesses, may use heroin to self-medicate their symptoms. Others may use it to battle their physical symptoms or numb their responses to these symptoms.

As a part of the opiate family, heroin is a dangerous and highly addictive drug capable of inducing intensely pleasurable effects while eliminating pain and triggering a sense of relaxed euphoria. These pleasant effects are what contribute to the risk of addiction in the long run.

Heroin addiction can target anyone regardless of gender, age, socioeconomic status, or education level. Following are some of the most common behavioral, physical, and psychological signs and symptoms that potentially indicate that a person is abusing heroin or has become dependent on it.

Psychological Symptoms

  • Feelings of guilt, shame, and low mood
  • Hopelessness and despair
  • Poor judgment
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Impaired ability to concentrate or focus

Physical Symptoms

  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Persistent flu-like symptoms, including a runny nose and watery eyes
  • Exhaustion
  • Constipation
  • Bruising or scabbing of the skin
  • Sleep-related issues
  • Itchiness
  • Damage to the liver and kidneys
  • Pneumonia and tuberculosis
  • Hepatitis C and HIV

Social Symptoms

  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Drastic mood swings
  • Recent association with a new peer group
  • Frequent, unprovoked outbursts of anger
  • Loss of job
  • Strained personal and professional relationships
  • Financial difficulties
  • Legal problems, including arrest and imprisonment
  • Social isolation

A heroin addiction treatment center is the best place to seek help for breaking the cycle of addiction and attaining recovery. However, remember that not all treatment centers are the same, as some may have better track records and a more comprehensive selection of therapies to choose from. Those searching for rehab must consider their specific needs and requirements and ensure that the rehab they choose is equipped to address them properly.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient rehabilitation is the most intensive form of treatment, and many former heroin addicts have this level of care to thank for their recovery. This treatment program eliminates the external social and environmental factors that may make it harder for someone to achieve sobriety. All residents follow a structured routine during inpatient rehab that includes support groups, daily therapy, counseling sessions, and other activities. Detoxification, a process of removing the residual drug from the addict’s body, is also an important part of inpatient rehab. This process takes place under expert supervision and includes medication-assisted therapy to ease the associated withdrawal symptoms.

Each rehab may differ from the others in terms of their activities and therapies. Some of them may focus on physical and mental health together by encouraging daily exercise, while others schedule activities like rock climbing and hiking to keep patients entertained. A handful of these rehabs provide luxury treatments with amenities like a personal driver, chef, and housekeeping staff. Most inpatient heroin addiction treatment programs last for 30 to 90 days.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment is usually a step-down program for clients who have finished inpatient treatment and now require a lesser-intensive environment to practice their newly acquired life skills. This type of treatment allows them to return to their homes or other sober living arrangements while regularly visiting the rehab to attend counseling and therapy. An outpatient treatment program may be of the following two types: 

  • Partial hospitalization program, which requires clients to engage in therapy for up to 5 days a week
  • An intensive outpatient program in which clients seek therapy up to 3 times a week in a lesser well-structured environment

Ongoing Treatment And Relapse Prevention Program

Once heroin addict is done with inpatient and outpatient programs, they may no longer need to attend rehab to receive formal treatment. However, it is essential to keep in mind that addiction recovery is a lifelong process, and it requires ongoing treatment to manage sobriety in the long run. Due to this factor, many rehabs offer relapse prevention programs and aftercare planning to every client, which allows them to continue following up with their therapists for years after leaving rehab to stay focused on sobriety. These plans also encourage them to regularly participate in community meetings and support groups where they meet people like them and help each other out. Heroin Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are two important support groups that can particularly benefit anyone with an underlying heroin addiction to remain sober for years to come.

Many heroin addiction rehabs regularly offer medication-assisted therapy to help addicts wean off this drug safely with reduced cravings and a decreased risk of future use. Some medications commonly used in this type of treatment include the following:

Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine is a partial opiate agonist that works by triggering the same receptors in the brain as heroin. By doing so, this medication can cut down heroin cravings and manage the associated withdrawal symptoms. However, it is important to remember that this medication is only safe for people who are completely ready to steer clear of heroin. If someone who uses buprenorphine to overcome their cravings end up using heroin following this therapy, they may experience acute withdrawal symptoms and are at a very high risk of a heroin overdose. Therefore, buprenorphine must always be used with caution and under strict medical supervision, as it also carries habit-forming potential if taken in doses higher than needed.

Methadone

Methadone similarly affects the brain as buprenorphine; however, its effects are much stronger and longer-lasting. Commonly available under the brand name Dolophine, this medication is also an opioid which has made its use in the management of heroin withdrawal somewhat controversial. Not only does methadone carry a high addictive potential but also quickly builds up in the body if not taken correctly, ultimately increasing the risk of an overdose.

As a result, experts use methadone with great caution for short- and long-term detox management. Methadone maintenance treatment is also commonly offered in many heroin addiction rehabs as it makes it easier for the patients to practice abstinence for a long time.

Naltrexone

Commonly used in managing alcoholism, naltrexone is also an important component of medication-assisted therapy for managing heroin withdrawal. It works inside the body by stopping heroin from accessing the opioid receptors in the brain. Available under the brand names Vivitrol or Revia, naltrexone makes it impossible for the body to feel the effects of heroin, forcing addicts to quit using it for good.

Suboxone

Suboxone is one of the most popular drugs used in medication-assisted therapy for heroin addiction. It includes a combination of naloxone and buprenorphine that not only relieve withdrawal pain but also reduce the effects of heroin on the brain. Keep in mind that the medication may prove extremely dangerous if combined with heroin, putting the user at risk of a life-threatening overdose.

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