Get on the road to recovery with these heroin addiction treatment options
Heroin is a highly addictive opioid drug that comes from the poppy plant. Many Americans who became addicted to opioid pain medications began using heroin when they could no longer get prescriptions for their medications. Heroin abuse and addiction has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. and many state, local and community groups are now involved in raising awareness and offering heroin addiction treatment options to addicts.
Heroin binds to the opioid receptors in the brain, brain stem and body, and this action causes feelings of euphoria and well-being in the user. It also diminishes the perception of pain and gives relief to those people who suffer from severe or chronic pain. Heroin addiction will affect many areas of an addict’s physical, mental, social, financial and spiritual life. Some of the physical adverse effects of heroin addiction are a weakened immune system, malnutrition, infections, nausea, vomiting, muscle and bone pain, kidney or liver damage, heart valve infection, decreased libido and weight loss. The heroin addict may also suffer from the psychological effects of the drug, which include mood swings, hallucinations, hostility, memory loss and delusions.
Although a heroin detox is effective in removing the heroin from the addict’s body, it will not stop his addiction. Other heroin addiction treatment options, including pharmacological and behavioral therapies, must also be applied for the recovery from addiction to be successful, and also to prevent the addict from relapsing. These types of treatments will help to restore some of the normal functions of the brain. Some addicts will do well when one of these heroin addiction treatment options is applied, but some addicts will require both for an effective recovery. Research has shown that when these types of treatments are applied, the addict can regain employment and have better control of his behavior. They also reduce the behavioral risks of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and committing crimes.
Many addicts relapse when they try to go through the heroin detox process alone, because the withdrawal symptoms may be difficult to endure. Some of the heroin withdrawal effects that an addict may experience include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, nervousness, shaking, sweating, chills, fatigue, intense drug cravings, anxiety, muscle spasms, rapid heart rate and depression. If the heroin addict is in a rehab facility he can receive a medically assisted heroin detox. Medications will help to ease withdrawal symptoms and also the drug cravings that are associated with detox. By reducing the drug cravings, the medications also help to prevent a relapse. A medically supervised heroin detox allows the addict to move through the process slowly, safely and in a more comfortable state.
After heroin detox, some recovering heroin addicts are treated with buprenorphine (Suboxone), Methadone or Naltrexone for abstinence maintenance. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist drug that helps to lower the relapse rate and has a lower abuse potential than Methadone. Suboxone has helped many addicts stay clean, but there are some addicts who abuse Suboxone by using it in between heroin use to hold back withdrawal symptoms.
Another heroin addiction treatment option is the use of Methadone for abstinence maintenance. Methadone is a slow-acting opioid agonist medication that stays active in the bloodstream for up to one day. Methadone staves off withdrawal symptoms by activating the opoid receptors in the brain and body, but it does not have the same intensity that heroin does. A Methadone pill is taken once a day, and eventually the recovering heroin addict can wean him self off the drug as his brain is restored to a normal function again. There is an abuse risk potential for Methadone also if the recovering addict takes more than the recommended dosage.
Naloxone is another opioid agonist heroin treatment option that can be added with Suboxone to prevent withdrawal. Precipitated withdrawal is when a person takes an opioid antagonist drug while there is still an opioid agonist, such as heroin, in their bloodstream causing withdrawal to take place. A precipitated withdrawal may occur rapidly and produce much more severe withdrawal symptoms. Addicts entering detox must be very clear about their drug use history and know when their last dose of heroin was.
Other heroin treatment options include cognitive behavioral therapy and contingency management therapy. Treatment is most effective when a recovering heroin addict receives psychological and pharmacological help in overcoming his addiction, based on his individual needs. There is life after heroin addiction – reach out to a drug rehab and detox center near you today to learn more!
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.