Heroin addiction is considered one of the worst and most destructive drug addictions as this incredibly dangerous opioid analgesic can cause dependence after a single use. Heroin acts faster than morphine, it is highly addictive and leads to an extremely violent behavior when the withdrawal symptoms are felt.
At the beginning heroin causes symptoms of sleepiness and nausea, but in time the nausea wears off and the withdrawal symptoms are felt quite fast after the drug wears off, pushing the user into a continuous search for nicotine.
Some of the heroin effects are drowsiness, difficulty in breathing, reduces anxiety, dry mouth, heaviness in the limbs, constricted pupils, quick changes in behavior and disorientation. The long term heroin abuse cause permanent changes in the individual's brain function and also expose him/her to contracting diseases associated to intravenous drug use: HIV, AIDS, Hepatits C, infections that could lead to loss of a limb.
Fearing the withdrawal effects, many addicts will use heroin several times per day, to be sure that they will not feel the effects of hitting the rock bottom. Some of the withdrawal effects are: bone and muscle pain, insomnia, anxiety, sweating, agitation, dilated pupils, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, chills, depression.
Left untreated, heroin use can ultimately lead to death from an overdose, due to a contracted disease, an infection, or due to suicidal thoughts caused by depression. There are several steps to be taken in treating heroin addiction, among which are detox, therapy, counseling, medical intervention and support groups.
Heroin Detoxification: Detoxification is the first step in the heroin addiction treatment. During this process the individual will stop using heroin, dealing with the withdrawal effects, which can be for some unbearable, pushing them to drugs again. Usually the heroin detox takes between 7-10 days.
Therapy and counseling: The therapist or counselor can help the addict find the cause which triggered the drug abuse or the triggers which push them into using the drug and try to avoid or solve these situations. Patients are taught how to stay sober and prevent a relapse.
Medical intervention: Some patients need permanent monitoring during the detox process and are administered medications to alleviate the painful withdrawal symptoms: Methadone, Suboxone, Buprenorphine or Naltroxone. Sometimes the patients will require years of replacement therapy, monitoring, and counseling.
Naltrexone Implant: Currently, Naltrexone is the best pharmacological protection against drugs, as it is able to interfere into underlying mechanisms that are common to all types of addiction. Naltrexone will be implanted if the patient will manage to stay drug free for at least 10 days. The implant is placed under the skin in the lower abdominal area, and therefore a continuous level of Naltrexone is released regularly in the body. The Naltrexone implant can last for 2, 3, 6 or 12 months, depending on each patient's needs.
Treatment programs: Treatment programs are the complete solution for anti addiction, as they include therapy and educational sessions which help the patient get sober and avoid relapse. These programs are available both as inpatient or outpatient options. The treatment programs include detoxification, intensive care treatment, medication, psychiatric and psychological support, recreational therapies, psychological testing, and many other procedure needed for a successful outcome of the rehabilitation process.
Once the patient has successfully passed through the detox program, now he/she has to try to avoid relapse. This can be done joining a support group, seeing a therapist or relying on family and friends for support. Studies have shown that in the case of heroin addiction the residential treatment programs have a higher success rate than the outpatient treatment.
Patients who successfully complete a treatment program covering an extensive period, manage to stop using drugs and improve their personal, social and occupational lives. The treatment helps patients regain control over their lives and fight the factors which have forced them to become addicts in the first place.
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