Making an effort to end heroin addiction is a courageous move, but it is not something you should do on your own. Relying on medical professionals and addiction experts will ensure that the recovery process is more successful and bearable. If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin use disorder, a heroin addiction treatment program can help in the battle for sobriety. At Georgia Addiction Treatment Center, our substance abuse treatment programs provide the resources you need to heal and recover.
What Is Heroin?
Heroin is an addictive and illicit drug that has become one of the most commonly abused substances in the world. Those who suffer from heroin addiction get a surge of pleasurable sensations from their use. This happens due to the release of dopamine neurotransmitters in the brain. If a person takes heroin repeatedly, the brain can no longer produce dopamine like it used to. Because of this, individuals are driven to take higher doses to achieve the same intense feelings they experienced before.
Anyone is at risk of developing the early stages of a heroin addiction. Some of the risk factors that can increase the likelihood of becoming addicted to heroin include:
- Heavy tobacco use
- History of addiction
- Anxiety or severe depression
- High-risk exposure to specific types of people or environments
It is important to note that even if someone exhibits many of these factors, that does not mean they will start showing the signs of heroin addiction.
What Are the Effects of Heroin?
Heroin produces euphoric feelings by binding to opioid receptors in the brain. The drug takes effect quite quickly and also influences other systems controlled by the brain, such as heart rate, breathing, sleeping, and of course, pleasure. Unfortunately, continued use of the drug will alter the individual’s neurochemistry such that they need more and more of the drug to achieve the same rush of euphoria. This leads to a dangerous downward spiral.
The most well-known effect, and the one sought by most people, is the rush of euphoria that overwhelms the user. However, there are other common and less pleasant effects, including:
- Clouded mental functioning
- Dry mouth
- A feeling of heaviness in the arms and legs
- Flushed, warm skin
- Severe itching
- Nausea and vomiting
- Nodding in-and-out between being consciousness and a semiconscious state
Continued use of heroin only increases the chance of addiction and health risks. The long-term use of heroin may result in:
- Constipation and stomach cramping
- Collapsed veins for people who inject the drug
- Damaged tissue inside the nose for people who sniff or snort it
- Infection of the heart lining and valves
- Mental disorders such as depression
- Liver and kidney disease
- Lung complications, including pneumonia
- Sexual dysfunction for men
- Irregular menstrual cycles for women
Other Potential Effects
Heroin is rarely pure and often contains additives. These additives may clog blood vessels leading to major organs, including the brain, causing permanent damage. In addition, heroin leads to poor judgment and clouded thinking. If a user shares injection equipment while impaired from drug use, it can increase the risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.
What Is a Heroin Addiction Treatment Program?
Heroin addiction has taken over many people’s lives, and now, they are seeking treatment for their addiction. A heroin addiction treatment program focuses on the overall recovery of a person and also includes medical support. Although heroin addiction is not just a physical disease, it can negatively impact one’s physical health. This is why the goal of this program is to ensure that participants are healthy enough to push through with their recovery. The duration of the treatment program varies depending on the individual.
For many participants, a heroin addiction treatment program involves a heroin detox to relieve withdrawal symptoms as the body adjusts to functioning without this drug. Medical supervision is essential in this step to ensure that the client is comfortable.
Providing replacement medications for participants is also crucial to relieve some of the painful withdrawal symptoms. Since the program is administered in a medically monitored setting, it is safe. However, there are also individualized programs that only encourage abstinence, where there is no replacement drug to minimize withdrawal symptoms. As expected, this type of treatment can be more challenging.
When the detox is complete, the next step is addiction therapy. Participants will either have individual therapy, group session, or a mixture of both. This will educate participants about addiction and make the treatment process more manageable.
Because the recovery process is different for everyone, it is also essential to have ongoing support and aftercare after the initial treatment. People in recovery perform best if they have a set plan when they check out. A trained heroin addiction treatment program will go to great lengths to develop a comprehensive aftercare plan, perhaps involving an alumni program to ensure that the recovery is sustainable in the long run.
Heroin addiction is challenging to address, but those struggling with it can still find a clear path to recovery. Although therapy conducted by treatment centers helps people achieve sobriety, relapse sometimes occurs. However, it does not mean the treatment has entirely failed.
Relapse is more common than you think, and wanting to return to drug use after a heroin addiction treatment program is a normal part of the recovery process. But while it may be common, there are many strategies participants can undertake to decrease their chances of spiraling back into this condition. Keep in mind that recovery is not a one-time deal. It is a work in progress.
You Can Beat Heroin Addiction at Georgia Addiction Treatment Center
Because heroin addiction is extremely hard to overcome, those struggling with it have the best chance at long-term recovery when participating in a heroin addiction treatment program. Georgia Addiction Treatment Center offers a wide range of treatments to give people support in their road to sobriety. Contact us today at 855.952.3546 to learn more.