Heroin, a highly addictive opiate made from morphine, binds to opioid receptors in the brain, affecting basic physiological functioning such as heart rate, sleeping, and breathing, and creates an artificial sensation of pleasure. Between 2015 and 2016, nearly 1 million American adults reported using heroin, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and today, heroin and opiate misuse are at peak levels at the height of the U.S. opioid crisis.
Heroin addiction has many short- and long-term effects and impacts physical and mental health at all levels. IV heroin users are also at high risk for contracting contagious blood diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C, and heroin users generally are at high risk of overdose. In 2016, over 15,000 reported drug overdose deaths— roughly 25% of all U.S. overdose deaths in 2016— were heroin overdoses (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Withdrawal from heroin is physically and emotionally taxing, and withdrawal symptoms vary in severity, though most will last about a week. Physical dependence to heroin could be either the biggest roadblock to, or the biggest motivation for treatment. Our goal at Royal Life Centers is to make detoxification from heroin as smooth as possible. Our guests are monitored through and after detox, and medical staff are on site 24/7 to ensure safety and comfort.
Short-term effects of heroin use may include (NIDA):
- Dry mouth
- Warm flushing of the skin
- Heavy feeling in arms and legs
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe itching
- Clouded mental functioning, such as impaired judgment
The short-term effects of heroin usually subside after about a week, although the process is extremely uncomfortable without medical assistance. Those detoxing from heroin most commonly experience nausea, vomiting, and severe itching, as well as are drowsy for several hours without being able to successfully sleep.
Long-term effects of heroin use are even more serious and may include (NIDA):
- Collapsed veins
- Infection of heart lining and valves
- Constipation and stomach cramping
- Liver and kidney disease
- Lung complications
- Depression and antisocial personality disorder
- Sexual dysfunction and irregular menstruation
To overcome heroin addiction, treatment is essential. Without the medical supervision and assistance a certified and accredited detox facility provides, withdrawal from heroin and other opiates may prove fatal. Because We Care, Royal Life Centers is committed to providing the safest, most effective medication-assisted heroin detox, followed by carefully structured, individualized medical regiments, an intensive therapy program, and extensive aftercare options.
Should I seek treatment for heroin addiction?
Signs of a heroin problem may include:
- Planning activities around heroin use
- Engaging in other high-risk behaviors
- Prioritizing heroin over other things
- Loss of interest in activities not involving heroin
- Lying or stealing to obtain heroin
- Withdrawal symptoms and/or heroin cravings
If you recognize any of these signs in yourself or others, you may have a heroin problem and require medical help to safely detox.
Heroin withdrawal symptoms may include (NIDA):
- Severe muscle and bone pain
- Sleep problems
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Cold flashes with goosebumps
- Uncontrollable leg movements
- Severe cravings
What happens after medical detox?
Following medical detox at Royal Life Centers, guests will begin a comprehensive, collaborative approach to treatment designed to support physical and mental wellness and promote a lasting, sober lifestyle. Our addiction specialists, from our therapists and case managers to our facility staff, are dedicated to providing the best in care and support. Our holistic, evidence-based approach to psychotherapy incorporates individual and group sessions and activity, movement, and adventure therapies into one program that treats mind, body, and spirit.
Guests may begin their recovery journey in our residential inpatient program and continue with us through PHP, IOP, OP, and sober living at our grad housing residences. At Royal Life Centers, the guest is always our top priority, and we consistently do all we can to effect lasting change, that they might continue to lead healthy, sober lives long after they have left our care.