Despite the fact that there are numerous heroin addiction treatment options, heroin abuse and addiction endure. Among the almost 17 million people around the world who have experimented or used heroin or other opioids, estimates suggest around 25% become dependent on these substances.
Prescription opioids which are essentially synthetic heroin are currently being abused by about 4.5 million Americans although these are only the recorded numbers. Now it seems there is a new problem to replace the rising number of people dependent on prescription opioids, which is heroin abuse. This is attributed to many factors including that it is easier and cheaper to obtain heroin than its prescription alternative.
Heroin Works by Hijacking Reward Systems
Heroin works binding to opioid receptors in cells, which are linked to a person’s perception of pain. Heroin is most commonly injected and this means it is quick to cross the blood-brain barrier which stimulates neurotransmitters to produce intense euphoria.
Although the high heroin creates is alluring, it is also elusive. When a person starts to use heroin, they quickly become tolerant which means they need higher doses of the substance to get the desired effects. This is extremely risky behavior as it can lead to fatal overdose and also a physical dependence on heroin.
A clear sign that a person is developing dependence is when they begin to experience increasingly severe withdrawal when they stop using. Withdrawal from heroin can be extremely uncomfortable and dangerous, with symptoms including the following:
- Cravings which are generally triggered in the early stages of withdrawal
- Mood changes as the drug’s effects on the brain lessen
- Aches and pains caused as the bodies pain pathways become unblocked
- Excessive sweating, watering eyes, and a runny nose
- Diarrhea and abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fever or chills
- Restlessness and sleep problems
The Importance of Supervised Heroin Detox
Heroin is an intensely potent substance that has a significant grip on a person who has developed physical dependence. When the life-changing decision has been made to seek treatment, individuals are not able to predict how they will respond to detox and how severe their withdrawal symptoms will be.
This makes it essential individuals attend supervised detox in a heroin addiction treatment center so that they have the full attention of trained professionals to treat difficult symptoms as they arise. Some heroin withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening which is why 24/7 supervision through the detox process is recommended.
Behavioral Therapies in Heroin Abuse Treatment
Behavioral therapies such as CBT are commonly used as a component in a heroin abuse treatment program. CBT aims to identify the thought processes that result in addictive behavior which is accomplished through discussion between therapist and patient. Patients in heroin rehab centers are required to make significant changes in order to live a substance-free life and behavioral therapies assist in achieving this process.
Although many people knowingly use heroin for the first time, once they have become physically dependent, they will no longer have control over when they use. One of the main characteristics of heroin addiction is a preoccupation with obtaining and using heroin which is almost always to the exclusion of more important things in the individual’s life. This can lead to the breakdown of close personal relationships and can have widespread effects on the individual and their close circle of family and friends.
When a person is trapped in an addictive cycle of heroin abuse, they are unlikely to be able to control the way they behave. Their actions and intentions are purely dictated to them by their overwhelming need to use heroin and in time they lose all cognitive awareness of the damage they are doing themselves and others. Behavioral therapies get to the heart of the negative thoughts and emotions that are driving a person’s heroin abuse so that they can make positive changes to restore balance in their lives.
Overcoming Heroin Addiction
Although the issue of substance abuse is at the forefront of media attention due to the scale of the problem, there is a multitude of successful recovery stories from hundreds and thousands of people attending heroin rehab centers. Although heroin addiction is a serious and often chronic condition, there is light at the end of the tunnel once a person has admitted to themselves they need help.
There are numerous approaches to treating heroin abuse, dependence, and addiction due to our greater understanding of this chronic health condition. Once someone has taken the first and possibly most significant step of entering detox and rehab, they can find a path towards rebuilding their lives free of the negative influences of heroin.