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).
Heroin withdrawal is characterized as incredibly uncomfortable, but usually not 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 just to alleviate their symptoms. Our detox facility provides medication that diminishes the adverse affects of withdrawal so that guests can detox as safely and as comfortably as possible. With comfortable beds and accommodations, guests can relax and rest to regain physical wellness. Not to mention 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 detoxing at a certified medical facility, such as Royal Life Centers. While it is not common for heroin withdrawal to be life-threatening, it still presents the risk of serious complications. It is best to be in the care of trained medical professionals who can monitor vitals and administer medication to relieve symptoms. Minimizing discomfort is key when dealing with heroin withdrawal. 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, where they 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. They will live in-house and have limited communication with people on the outside. They will endure a series of challenges encouraging personal growth through intensive therapy, whether that being individual or group, and learn practices to improve their spiritual awareness and wellbeing. Leaving a life driven by substance abuse requires learning a new way of life with a healthy and positive mindset to fuel behaviors and action supportive for recovery. Aftercare options, like our nine-week program, are recommended after completing inpatient treatment, to fortify guests’ foundation in recovery.
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.