At present, an estimated 13.5 million people are using opiates, this includes the 9.2 million who have selected heroin as their drug of choice. Currently, four out of every five drug related deaths are from heroin.
The Physical Effects of Heroin Use
Heroin affects the body in many different ways. Because of frequent injections, veins begin to collapse and often become infected from dirty skin and the use of dirty needles. Other long term affects include forms of arthritis, tuberculosisi and leading an addicts lifestyle. Dirty needles are the leading cause of AIDS and other infections. At least 35,000 of the new hepatitis C cases can be traced back to heroin usage and this number is continuing to rise.Users can also run the risk of pockmarks on the body, abscesses from the infected pockmarks and the loss of everything that they’ve ever known or loved. This includes friends, families, jobs, belongings, everything they own.
Other symptoms of long term addiction will include bad teeth, inflamed gums, constipation, sweating (usually cold sweats), intense itching, weakened immune system, respiratory illnesses, partial paralysis, weakened muscles, reduced sexual abilities, menstrual issues for women, depression, memory loss, loss of appetite, insomnia, introversion, lower intellectual performance and coma, often followed by death.Addiction to heroin takes place in a relatively short amount of time. Most users begin by snorting the heroin and within a week to a month graduate to main lining. In the process, they will do anything for their fix. In the end, they have nothing left but the addiction itself.
Heroin: The short term effects.
As with most mind altering drugs, the initial expectation of Heroin will not disappoint the user, however, once you get on that roller-coaster ride, there is simply no getting off. Friends and users should be aware that the effects may vary from one individual to another, but many have suggested that they experience some of the following effects.
Any feeling of pain will be immediately gone, there will be a feeling of great pleasure as the user begins to feel as though everything is right in their world. The user will also experience marked drowsiness, the ability to focus or remain coordinated will seem further from their grasp. As the dosage increases, because they will, the user may find themselves being constantly nauseous and could end up throwing up all the time.
This would be a perfect opportunity to think about treatment for heroin addiction before everything goes up in smoke, or into a needle. Unfortunately, the user will think to themselves that even with the constant nodding off that they are experiencing, they are still in control. Body temperatures may drop, breathing will usually become shallow and the possibility of an irregular heartbeat and death may not be enough to convince the user that they could be in trouble.
Heroin: The long term effects.
By this time the Heroin user will be so entrenched in their need for a fix that they will find the time between doses and the effects wearing off much quicker. There will not be a lot of time to work, other than to steal enough money to generate another fix. Friends and family may even abandon them for fear of having their property stolen from them.
The Heroin user is on a fast track to total destruction as the body begins to show signs of decay to everyone around them, especially through the teeth and gums. The immune system can no longer do its job and any passing disease, or passing needles will be detrimental to them. Relationships with members of the opposite sex will be almost nonexistent, especially since there will be no sex drive.
The user can take on the appearance of a zombie, with no desire to eat, socialize, or anything else that human beings are usually known for. Marks from needles will usually show up all over the body, the heavier the user, the more marks will appear. The user may have trouble sleeping and will usually be in an extremely depressed state. If the user still refuses to seek treatment for heroin addiction by this time, the possibility of death is probably imminent.
Withdrawal From Heroin Addiction
Withdrawal from opiates, including heroin, are very intense and uncomfortable, but rarely are they life threatening. Within 12 hours of the last dose of heroin the patient is generally feeling agitated. They will suffer from intense anxiety and muscle aches. They may begin crying (tearing up) and suffer from insomnia. It’s not uncommon for them to suffer from cold sweats, frequent yawning and a runny nose.
As time passes they will have abdominal cramps, diarrhea, pupils will begin to dilate and they will often suffer from nausea and vomiting. They may also notice goose bumps on their arms, legs and torso. Emotionally the patient will be extremely upset and agitated and perhaps confused.
There are medications that doctors can prescribe to ease the symptoms or the patient can go to a treatment center and get help during this process.
How a Treatment Center Can Help With Heroin Addiction
At treatment for heroin addiction, there are many ways that the patient can be treated. These will often include the following methods of treatment for heroin addiction:
One on One
The patient is paired up with a counselor who is familiar with heroin addiction and the treatment for heroin addiction. This counselor will assess the patient and discuss the various treatment options available for the patient. They will meet one on one until the counselor determines that the patient is ready to move on to a group therapy treatment.
A group of former heroin users will get together under the guidance of a counselor. They will then discuss their various stories, how they are doing getting off of heroin and various techniques they have used to stay off of heroin. These sessions will go on indefinitely. Often these are combined with a 12 step program that will give the patient ongoing support in their treatment for heroin addiction.
Patients in therapy sessions are taught coping mechanisms to use should they feel like they are going back into addiction. Since addiction can be a life long battle these patients must continue to seek treatment throughout the rest of their lives.
Holistic Approaches to Addiction Recovery
Some patients find great relief by using holistic approaches to addiction recovery. They work on meditation, yoga and other forms of healing that don’t involve any medical intervention but instead require the patient to concentrate on specific steps to help alleviate the urge to use.
Patients that use holistic treatments may have a yoga class in the morning, they may go home and meditate for an hour or more and later they may have another class that helps them to deal with their symptoms such as a martial arts class or an art class. Using holistic approaches helps to reduce the need for medications in many patients.
Long Range Recovery is possible for those who suffer from heroin addiction. While addiction never completely goes away, if a patient wishes to remain sober they can choose to do so whilst working through a variety of programs and focusing on the positives they have in their life. Treatment for heroin addiction begins the moment the person reaches out for help and will last the rest of their life. If the person truly wishes to change, it is possible.