heroin addiction treatment at Morningside RecoveryThere are few other problems that the U.S. has faced that’ve reached as far and wide as the heroin epidemic. It was once highly associated with the stigma of being a back alley drug, but has now reached into every demographic of our nation’s society. With the rise of heroin abuse, heroin addiction treatment is the only chance the country has of stopping the epidemic.

Heroin is the Most Addictive Drug in the World

The rise in heroin use has been largely influenced by the ongoing problems we’ve seen with people abusing highly-addictive prescription painkillers like OxyContin, Opana, Vicodin and Percocet. Since the introduction of OxyContin, overdose deaths across the U.S. have quadrupled. Many addicts will start off with painkillers, because they do not possess the same stigma and are seen as more socially acceptable. In many cases, they are prescribed these by a doctor to treat moderate to severe pain and sadly, many become addicted. As an addict’s painkiller habit becomes more and more expensive, they often will switch over to heroin, because of it’s cheaper cost.

In 2010, the makers of OxyContin implemented an abuse-deterrent formula, which made it much harder for addicts to snort, smoke or inject the drug. Upon this reformulation, many addicts made the switch over to heroin. Since then, heroin-related deaths have tripled in the U.S.

What is Heroin?

Heroin is a highly addictive opiate processed from Morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seeds of the poppy plant. It typically comes in two forms: a white/brownish powder or a “black tar” form. Pure heroin comes in a white powder and predominately comes from the Middle East. The powdered “China white” form is higher in purity and remains the most prevalent among the eastern states of the U.S. It can be snorted, smoked or injected. The black tar form is hard and sticky in consistency and is mainly produced in Mexico and sold in the western states of the U.S. Its dark color is the result of crude processing that leaves behind impurities. It is typically either smoked or injected by users.

Why Seek Out Heroin Addiction Treatment?

Heroin is a central nervous system depressant and is converted back into Morphine, once it enters the brain. It binds to cells in the brain known as opioid receptors, many of which are involved in the perception of pain. It induces an intense feeling of euphoria and relaxation in the user. There are numerous signs of use to be watchful of. If these signs remain consistent, then it is important that you or a loved seek heroin addiction treatment options as soon as possible. Some signs of heroin abuse and addiction include:

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Slurred or incoherent speech patterns
  • Decreased performance in school or work
  • Irregular sleeping patterns
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or relationships
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Erratic or hostile behavior towards friends and loved ones
  • Borrowing or stealing money from family and friends

Physical Symptoms

  • Shortness of breath
  • Constricted “pinned-out” pupils
  • Constant fatigue (nodding off)
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Needle marks or abscesses on skin where they shoot up
  • Constant itching
  • Constipation

Signs of Heroin Withdrawal

Whenever you take any drug consistently and for a prolonged period of time, your body will become desensitized to its effects and when abusing heroin, your body will in fact, become physically addicted to the drug to function properly. Over time, addicts will develop a tolerance and will need more and more of the drug to induce the same desired effect. This leads to a higher risk of overdose.

Over time, the drug changes the way the user’s nerve receptors work in their brain and they will become physically dependent on the drug. This occurs even in people who take painkillers as prescribed. Once they stop using the drug, they will go through a period of severe withdrawal. Some signs of heroin withdrawal include:

  • Profuse and unusual sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Extreme cramping in limbs or “kicking”
  • Severe insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Cold sweats

Heroin withdrawal is especially painful and often requires medical attention. Many heroin addiction treatment options include the use of detox medications such as Suboxone and Subutex to help ease the patient through the detox process. These medications are used specifically to treat the pain associated with opiate withdrawal.

Medical Side Effects of Heroin Addiction

Heroin is highly addictive and powerful drug, which carries a long list of side effects if the addict is not treated for their condition. These side effects change as the disease progresses and vary depending on the addict’s age and other health factors. Some serious medical side effects of heroin addiction include:

  • Infectious diseases such as HIV, and Hepatitis B and C (spread through shared needle use)
  • Pulmonary diseases
  • Cardiorespiratory problems
  • Liver disease
  • Arthritis and other rheumatologic problems
  • Seizures