What Is Heroin?
Heroin is one of the strongest, most dangerous substances available. It’s part of a group of drugs called opioids, which take action by attaching to receptors in the brain and body, causing intense euphoria, relaxation and pain relief. While it was originally formulated as a medical drug treatment, it’s largely fallen out of favor due to how addictive it is.
Most heroin is produced in unregulated labs and distributed on the streets, often cut with fentanyl, baking soda, prescription drugs and other miscellaneous substances. People tend to use it to escape emotional pain, but tolerance builds fast and they need more and more to get the same effects. Drug abuse can lead to job loss, financial problems, legal issues, social withdrawal and the breakdown of relationships with partners, friends and family members.
Signs and Symptoms of Addiction
Heroin dependence looks a little different in everyone, with some finding it easier to hide their problem than others. Addicted people can lead lives that appear fully functional from the outside or completely lose the ability to function. Either way, there are 11 symptoms of addiction listed in the DSM 5 — an addicted person will display at least three:
- Increased tolerance
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Relationship problems
- Endangering safety
- Prioritizing heroin use
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Increasing dose
- Physical or mental health problems related to drug use
- Failed attempts to quit
- Skipping hobbies and activities
Physical Side Effects of Opiate Abuse
Just like alcohol addiction, heroin dependence is extremely physically harmful, mimicking chemicals that your body naturally produces and tricking it into believing it needs them. Some of the physical effects it can have on the body include:
- Weight loss
- Constipation and digestive problems
- Runny nose
- Weight loss
- Scabs and bruises
- Disordered sleep
- Kidney and liver damage
- Chronic respiratory disease
Mental/Emotional/Behavioral Side Effects of Heroin Use
Opioids don’t just affect the body; they take a serious toll on the entire central nervous system, which is responsible for regulating practically all your bodily functions. Mood, behavior, fight-or-flight response and emotions are all disrupted by heroin abuse. Major mental, emotional and behavioral side effects include:
- Financial issues
- Loss of close relationships
- Mood swings
- Anger and aggression
- Job loss
- Loss of focus
What Does Heroin Look Like?
Due to how frequently it’s cut with various other substances, the appearance of heroin can be any color between white and brown, with dangerous strains such as black tar heroin also available, which looks as its name suggests. Although it’s usually a powder, it can also be found in crystal, paste and tablet form.
The pure form of heroin is a fine white powder, although this is rarely found on the streets. In most cases, the drug contains impurities and requires special preparation to produce the desired effects. Dissolving it in liquid and heating it on a metal surface are two types of preparation, and both require paraphernalia. Equipment is also necessary to administer the drug, such as:
- Cotton balls
- Lighters and candles
- Tie-offs like rubber hoses, shoelaces and string
- Glass pipes
Understanding Opioid Withdrawal
Heroin withdrawal is a life-threatening process that has the potential to throw your entire nervous system into shock. The human body is highly adaptive, and it’s efficient at adapting to heroin use because of the sneaky way the drug replicates chemicals your body produces. Unfortunately, this means suddenly stopping opiate use can be extremely dangerous, and self-administered tapering is rarely effective.
Signs and Symptoms
Going through withdrawal is one of the main things that makes addicted people reluctant to quit. Although the symptoms can be unbearable when you attempt to go through it alone, the psychological and medical support you get at a detox center and rehab facility can minimize the discomfort. Some of the main symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Muscle cramps
- Intense psychological stress
- Sleep disturbances
- Dilated pupils
- Aches and pains
Timeline of Heroin Withdrawal
The length and severity of opiate withdrawal depend on a number of factors, including the amount of time you’ve used the drug and your height, gender, weight, method of administration, dose and existing mental health issues.
Symptoms usually appear within 12 hours of the last dose and last for around a week. Anxiety, pain, shaking, panic attacks and gastrointestinal problems often occur within 48 hours and start to intensify. The most challenging time is usually between days three and five, with shivering, sweating, sickness and cramping peaking during this stage. Around day six, the acute symptoms start to taper off, although residual effects may persist for several months.
In the short term, the physical dangers of heroin withdrawal make it advisable that anyone going through this struggle seek medical attention. Dehydration, depression, anxiety, self-harm and respiratory failure are just some of the risks associated with quitting opioid substances.
Who Needs to Attend a Heroin Addiction Treatment Center?
We would recommend that anyone looking to quit heroin attend a treatment facility to ensure they do it in a safe, comfortable environment with all the necessary resources. Most importantly, it’s safer to slowly taper off this drug that hijacks your entire body and mind to prevent going into shock.
At Brookside Treatment, we offer medication assisted treatment to help ensure the detox process runs as smoothly as possible and you experience minimal withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, staff is on hand 24 hours a day to help you cope with withdrawal and make sure you feel comfortable and safe.
Heroin Addiction Treatment Options
Health care providers aren’t here to judge you or report you to the authorities; we’re here to help you get better. While emotions like guilt and shame can be major barriers to seeking help, mustering the courage to get care from addiction experts drastically increases your chances of success and reduces your risk of relapse.
Detoxification and Medication Assisted Treatment
Detox is the process of toxins and harmful chemicals leaving your body in preparation for the treatment you’ll receive in rehab. It’s by no means a cure-all for heroin addiction; it simply clears the system of drugs — without addressing any of the causes that led you to use in the first place. Nonetheless, it’s usually a required first step of the recovery journey.
At Brookside Treatment, we use substances such as naloxone, methadone and suboxone to support the recovery process. MAT can significantly reduce the pain, discomfort and emotional strain associated with going through heroin withdrawal.
Outpatient Programs in Pikeville
Outpatient rehab is ideal for individuals with mild substance use disorders who still have responsibilities to tend to at home. It’s also a more affordable option and ideal for people who can’t get time off work. In an outpatient rehab program at Brookside Treatment, clients can expect to take part in a combination of group, individual and family therapy. There are also holistic and specialized groups we recommend individuals with specific needs attend.
Residential Treatment in Kentucky
Inpatient rehab is largely the same as outpatient rehab structurally, with the major difference being that you sleep in the facility in the former. This can be incredibly helpful for anyone who struggles to get themselves into a healthy routine. Structure and purpose are essential for successful recovery, and a stay in a residential treatment facility can be the perfect kick-start for a healthier, happier lifestyle.
Therapy for Substance Use Disorders
Well-being is intrinsically connected to the way we think and behave. Behavioral health has been in the spotlight in recent years, with addiction widely understood by the public as a disease for the first time in history. Extensive research and scientific work has led to exceptional advances in substance abuse treatment.
For most people, applying a variety of different approaches simultaneously is the most effective form of mental health care for addiction. Different people respond with varying levels of success to different treatment modalities, so it’s vital that the rehab center you attend creates a program that’s tailored to you as an individual.
- Individual therapy: One-on-one counseling helps you understand what drove you to use heroin so you can work to remove these emotional blocks from your path. You’ll work with a therapist to identify new, healthy coping mechanisms and learn how to implement them in your daily life. Cognitive behavioral therapy, contingency management, motivational interviewing and psychotherapy are just a few of the methods we use.
- Group therapy: Group therapy is all about building empathy and understanding the importance of having your voice heard. You’ll share your feelings and listen to other people’s experiences to learn more about addiction from a practical, real-life standpoint.
- Family therapy: Addiction is called a family disease because it impairs the people around the sufferer almost as much as it harms the addicted person. Heroin can be particularly traumatizing for loved ones because of the social stigma and danger to health posed by the drug.
- Holistic therapy: Research has shown that mind-body holistic approaches complement evidence-based therapies extremely well for addiction recovery. Many people who struggle with addiction have experienced trauma or had unconventional childhoods. Methods such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga and breathwork help them learn self-soothing techniques that make it easier to resist cravings.
Ongoing Substance Abuse Treatment
Heroin rehab is just the start of your recovery journey. Addiction is a chronic disease, which means you can bring it under control — but not cure it. That doesn’t mean the process isn’t 100% worthwhile. Thousands of people overcome heroin addiction every year and go on to live happy, healthy lives. No one does it alone, and for the best chances of recovery, you should investigate the following approaches to ongoing heroin abuse treatment.
All great rehab facilities ensure their alumni stay in touch and maintain progress in an aftercare program. Meetings usually take place every month and provide an opportunity for you to show off your progress and meet up with the folks you successfully completed rehab with.
Sober Living Facilities
For some individuals, their home environment is one of their biggest triggers. If this is the case for you, you might consider staying in a sober living home between completing rehab and moving into your own place. They’re usually shared accommodations with rules, routines and curfews. Although there’s staff to supervise, you live independently and come and go as you please. Emphasis is placed on polite communal living and healthy communication while sharing space.
We recommend that everyone who completes a stint at rehab goes on to attend NA meetings for at least a year, if not indefinitely. This offshoot of Alcoholics Anonymous aims to help anyone who’s struggled with drug abuse by providing a platform for them to share experiences.
As you progress, you’re given achievement badges, and many people start to feel a sense of responsibility for newer members. This provides accountability and positive reinforcement, and it’s a ready-made support network of people who understand exactly what you’ve been through.
How to Pay for Opiate Treatment Services at a Drug Rehab Center
Some people are put off from attending a rehab facility because of the price. However, at Brookside Treatment, we go the extra mile to provide affordable care to individuals looking for heroin addiction rehab in Kentucky.
As a result of the Affordable Care Act of 2009, addiction treatment services are included in most health care insurance policies. Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance usually cover at least some of the care you receive at rehab.
If you don’t have insurance, you can pay for drug rehab using cash or credit. Here are some of the ways you can source funds if you’re unable to cover the costs:
- Ask family or friends for a loan
- Get a health care loan or credit card
- Use social media or crowdsourcing to campaign for funding
- Seek help from a charity
Substance Abuse Recovery Center in Pikeville, Kentucky
The treatment plan at Brookside Treatment is customized to ensure you get access to the most beneficial care for your unique needs. Our drug and alcohol treatment center fosters a supportive and positive environment so you feel supported as you go through the challenging but extraordinarily brave process of addiction recovery.
Heroin abuse is scary, but you can overcome this stage of your life and move forward. If you’d like to find out more about how drug and alcohol rehab can help you turn your life around, call Brookside Treatment today at 606-658-3078.