Heroin, an opiate made from morphine, binds to opioid receptors in the brain, affecting basic physiological functioning. For example, heart rate, sleep patterns, and breathing are all affected. Heroin also creates an artificial sensation of pleasure in the brain. Between 2015 and 2016, nearly 1 million American adults reported using heroin, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Not surprisingly, we are facing the opioid crisis at its peak today.
Heroin addiction has many short and long-term effects on physical and mental health. Specifically, IV heroin users are at high risk for contracting contagious blood diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C. In addition, heroin users generally are at high risk of overdose. In 2016, roughly 25% of all U.S. overdose deaths in 2016, were heroin overdoses (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Heroin withdrawal is characterized as incredibly uncomfortable, but not usually life-threatening. Body aches, shivering and vomiting are just a few of the commonly experienced symptoms. The physical discomfort often leads people attempting to detox at home, back to using heroin. The reason being, to alleviate their withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, our detox facility provides medication that diminishes the adverse effects of withdrawal so that guests can detox as safely and pain-free as possible. With comfortable beds and accommodations, guests can relax and rest to regain physical wellness. Also, guests also have 24/7 access to nursing staff if they need to have any concerns or questions.
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
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
The most effective withdrawal method is to detox at a certified medical facility, such as Royal Life Centers. While it is uncommon for heroin withdrawal to be life-threatening, serious complications can occur. Thus, it is best to be in the care of medical professionals who can monitor vitals and administer medication to relieve symptoms. Minimizing discomfort is key when dealing with heroin withdrawal. Due to the fact that the less discomfort a person experiences, the less chance they have of resorting back to heroin use just to not feel as “sick”. At Royal Life Centers, we abide by protocol to safely detox all of our guests and encourage them to move on to our residential inpatient program. Because at residential inpatient, guests can utilize resources like intensive therapy and case management.
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?
After completing detox, guests will move onto our two-week residential inpatient program. Here, they will live in-house and have limited communication with people on the outside. Furthermore, they will endure a series of challenges encouraging personal growth through intensive therapy. Guests will also learn practices to improve their spiritual awareness and wellbeing. In truth, leaving a life driven by substance abuse requires learning a new way of life with a healthy and positive mindset to fuel behaviors supportive to recovery. With this purpose in mind, aftercare options, like our nine-week program, are recommended after completing inpatient treatment.
If you or a loved one has a heroin addiction, or any substance use disorder, please reach out to us about your detox and treatment options. Royal Life Centers admissions staff is available 24/7 to answer your questions and address your concerns Because We Care.