There’s a reason that more than five million people were estimated to have used heroin in 2015: it’s a powerful drug. Opioid and heroin addiction has become more common than ever and continues to ravish communities from every corner of the United States and beyond. Whether you’re rich or poor, old or young, educated or not, heroin doesn’t care. It can entrap anyone. Fortunately, heroin addiction does not have to become a life sentence. With the right resources, you can overcome your substance abuse problem for good. If you or someone you know is struggling with a heroin addiction, Fairwinds Treatment Center is here to help. Here’s what you should know before taking the first step on your journey to recovery.
What Is Heroin?
Heroin is an opiate drug that comes from the opium poppy that is most commonly grown in South America and Asia. Heroin became illegal in the United States in 1924 and is highly addictive. It comes in a variety of forms, including a white or brown powder, or a sticky black tar. Further, it can be sniffed, snorted, injected, or smoked.
What Causes Heroin Addiction?
As an opioid, heroin binds to receptors in the brain that release the chemical dopamine, giving the people who take it a euphoric feeling. This feeling, of course, is only temporary and will leave the person using the drug to crave more. If a person continues to take heroin over an extended period of time, their body will stop making dopamine on its own, causing them to seek more of the drug to reach previous levels of feeling good, or eventually even normal.
What Are the Symptoms of Heroin Addiction?
Heroin addicts can go to great lengths to successfully hide obvious signs of their addiction, especially in its early stages. As their dependency grows, it can become more difficult to hide from others. Common symptoms of heroin addiction include:
- Memory loss
- Impaired speech
- Runny nose (if snorted)
- Depression and anxiety
- Needle marks (if injected)
- Constricted pupils
- Financial, legal, and/or relationship problems
- Risky behavior
- Sudden changes in appearance
- Lastly, academic or professional problems
Another tell-tale sign of heroin addiction is a need for larger amounts to achieve the same effects they previously did with less heroin. Additionally, a person not being able to stop taking the drug when they want to is a common symptom of addiction.
Who’s at Risk for Developing a Heroin Addiction?
Heroin addiction can happen to anyone, regardless of their race, age, education level, or financial status. Addiction is a complicated disease that encompasses many different factors of life, including one’s heredity, psychological disposition, and environmental triggers. For this reason, it can never be determined with certainty who might develop a substance abuse problem. However, some factors can raise one’s chances of abusing opioids like heroin. These include:
- Severe anxiety and depression
- Exposure to high-risk individuals
- History of risk-taking behavior
- Personal or family history of substance abuse
How to Diagnose Heroin Addiction
A trained professional should diagnose a heroin addiction. The most common ways that a person is confirmed to be addicted to opioids include a urine test, blood test, and/or a clinical interview with a psychologist or a psychiatrist.
How to Treat Heroin Addiction
Like the addiction itself, treatment for heroin addiction is different for every individual and should be personalized. While this is true, a combination of behavioral and pharmacological treatment is commonly effective when treating people addicted to opioids.
Behavioral treatment can take place in an in-patient or out-patient setting and can include group therapy and individual therapy. Further, professionals use behavioral therapy to:
- Recognize triggers
- Learn coping skills
- Identify how to combat relapse situations
- Lastly, address emotional and psychological problems
Addiction is not only psychological; it’s also a physical disease. When a person’s body is physically addicted to a drug and they stop taking it, withdrawals will begin, including:
- Body aches
Along with severe cravings, detoxing from heroin can be an agonizing physical experience. When this occurs, medication can help to alleviate discomfort as well as cravings. This is important to prevent people from turning back to heroin just to make the withdrawal pain stop. For this reason, it’s best to detox in a controlled environment with trained medical professionals available to ensure the process goes as smoothly and safely as possible.
If you are struggling with an addiction to opioids, you don’t have to fight it alone. Indeed, contact the trusted team at Fairwinds Treatment Center to regain your life today!