Harmful Effects of Heroin While Pregnant

What are the many effects of heroin while pregnant? It is an alarming fact, but many studies state that there are many users of this drug who are pregnant women. Because of their addiction to heroin, they cannot stop taking the drug even if they are pregnant.

They may know the effects of heroin while pregnant and what it could do to the fetus. But a brain that has become dependent on an addictive drug makes it almost impossible to stop. Let’s try to understand why this is so.

Related article: This is What Happens When You Forfeit Your Life to Heroin Addiction

A Brief History of Heroin

Heroin is an illegal and extremely addictive drug. An alarming number of people use heroin and suffer from addiction to this substance. Once they become dependent on it, stopping becomes a challenge. It is because they will experience very uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. 

The production of heroin began in 1898 by Bayer, which is a German pharmaceutical company. At first, heroin was available as a treatment of tuberculosis. It was even marketed as a cure for morphine addiction. 

In the 1850s, the main drug problem was an addiction to opium. The solution at that time was to have a drug that can be a substitute. It was thought that morphine was less potent and non-addictive. But soon, morphine addiction became the problem. 

To address the problem of morphine addiction, a substitute was made, and that was heroin. Later, it became clearer that heroin was more addictive than morphine. At present, methadone is the drug for treating heroin addiction

Chemical Processes of Heroin Creation

The first stage of heroin production is getting morphine from opium poppies. The part that the creators gather are the seeds from the flowers of the opium poppies. The pods are cut, and they gather the sap from it. Cooking the sap with lime separates the morphine from the sap. 

 Morphine floats like white scum and collects on top of the boiling water. The creators of this drug mix the morphine with ammonia and expose it to heat several times. After that, filtration is necessary to get a brown paste of the substance. 

The paste undergoes purification to become heroin. Preparation of several chemicals like acetylate is necessary to convert the brown paste of morphine into heroin. Such chemicals are harmful. They are combustible and can lead to accidents and death.

Related article: Various Effects of Heroin on the Body

Distribution of the Drug

Once the production of heroin is complete, the drug goes through distribution to various retailers. These retailers typically cut or bind heroin with other drugs to dilute it. Retailers do this to artificially inflate the quantity of the drug to earn more cash from it. Sometimes drugs in the mixture are hazardous. It makes heroin more dangerous than it already is. 

Because heroin is an illegal drug, there are no limitations on the substances that become part of the mixture. Retailers are willing to reduce the purity of the drug with anything to earn more money from it. 

Without professional lab testing, there is no way to tell what is in the mixture. Fentanyl, acetaminophen, sugar, caffeine, flour, powdered milk, and starch are some of the most common substances in the mixture to dilute heroin.

Heroin Paraphernalia

If you have a family member or friend who you think is using heroin, try to observe if he or she has heroin paraphernalia. You may find things that they use to keep or consume the drug. The drug itself is usually inside small glass or plastic vials. 

Heroin may even be in tightly packed plastic bags. Check for pins and syringes as your loved one may be injecting the drug rather than snorting it. If the user smokes the drug, then the things to look for are lighters, aluminum foils, straws, and tubes.

Heroin Use and Addiction

Heroin is an illegal drug that is widely taken in North America. Heroin addiction is a widespread disease that threatens thousands of lives each year. It only gets worse as many individuals use heroin as a last chance drug to fuel their painkiller addiction.

Heroin may occur as a white or brown powder or a sticky material called black tar heroin. Its other names are dope, smack, horse, and junk. Heroin is an opiate, a natural derivative of the seed pod of opium poppy flower. It gives rise to emotions of elation and enjoyment to users of the drug.

Heroin comes from morphine, but after it enters the brain, it shifts back into morphine. The regions of the brain accountable for enjoyment and mood becomes active after linking to opioid receptors. Such regions include the brain stem, which controls significant autonomous body tasks. It includes blood pressure, heartbeat, and excitement.

Usually, people with addiction to prescription meds like Vicodin turn to heroin. Heroin is much cheaper and more available compared to prescription opioids. Heroin, like other opioids, can ease the pain. But that’s not the only reason why many individuals use it. 

Heroin causes individuals to feel happy, comfortable, and sleepy. It can also cause short-term relief from stress, depression, or even anxiety. People who use the drug want to make the most out of their money. And heroin being cheaper than prescription opioids makes it more appealing.

Effects Of Heroin Addiction

The effect of heroin on the body greatly depends on the amount and frequency of drug consumption. Various batches or kinds of heroin can have distinct impacts. Some types are far more powerful than others. And there are two types of effects of heroin addiction: the short-term and the long-term effects.

Users of the drug typically encounter an immediate euphoric shock after they inject or snort heroin. Heroin euphoria takes a few minutes to kick in. After that, the user will feel several hours of drowsiness. Using heroin repeatedly can lead to a number of changes in the body. 

Some of the damages include that of the veins bruising on different parts of the body become noticeable. Cuts and scarring because of itchy skin will also be present. The user will also lose a considerable amount of weight because of appetite loss, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. They will experience wheezing, fluctuating moods, nosebleeds, and nausea. 

As with any drug addiction, abuse of heroin can alter an individual’s behaviour or personality. Changes such as poor performance at work or school, social isolation and changes in sleep patterns can happen. 

Other behavioural changes such as avoiding eye contact, lacking motivation, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, mood swings, and having a hard time managing emotions are present as well.

Related article: Mind-Boggling Facts about Heroin

Signs and Symptoms

Heroin activates and binds receptors in the brain called mu-opioid receptors (MORs). The impact on the reward system of the brain increases as the dosage of heroin increases. Heroin addicts tend to use more because they want to reach the same high as before. 

Other signs of heroin abuse are the following:

  • Constipation
  • Reduced in the sense of pain
  • A heavy feeling of arms and legs
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Runny nose (if snorted)
  • Dry mouth
  • Depression 
  • Needle marks (If injected)
  • Severe itching
  • Memory Problems
  • Clouded mental functioning
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions

People who are addicted will have difficulty stopping the use of heroin since their mind and body think they need more. Aside from that, there are a lot of side effects during the withdrawal period. Some are even very painful and harmful.

Effects and symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Irritability and hypersensitivity
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Muscle Aches and fatigue
  • Dilated pupils
  • Chills
  • Panic attacks
  • Poor concentration
  • Memory loss

The duration of withdrawal depends on the length and level of use. Some factors are the frequency of heroin use, the method by which they took heroin, and the primary medical or mental health issues. The effects on mental health will remain for several months after overcoming the withdrawal.

Overdose on heroin can cause a dangerous and life-threatening reaction or even death. Some people who overdosed on heroin were reported to have slowed breathing. Others may experience difficulty in breathing or no breathing at all. 

There is a decrease in the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain, which is a condition called hypoxia. Hypoxia affects the nervous system that may result in a coma or permanent brain damage. Even with the numerous reports on death because of a heroin overdose, the number of cases is still increasing.

Heroin Overdose

When a heroin overdose happens, the user may experience slow or shallow breathing. There are cases when the user may stop breathing altogether. The skin will become cold and clammy. The blood pressure drops, and they could fall into a coma. It is very dangerous and may even be fatal if immediate medical attention is not available.

Heroin abuse and addiction, regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, or financial status, can harm anyone. There are already many deaths of celebrities due to an overdose of heroin. Overdoses are increasing throughout the world. With over half a million people using heroin, dependence continues to increase over the past ten years.

Harmful Effects Of Heroin While Pregnant

Using heroin is dangerous already. Using it while pregnant is even more harmful. The effects of heroin while pregnant may result in several significant medical complications. The fetus can acute and chronic abnormalities. 

The woman using the drug may not have any severe or long-lasting issues. However, the fetus will. Parents with addiction problems often have children who have many developmental issues. A pregnant woman taking drugs like heroin will affect the fetus. The drug will get into contact with the fetus through the placenta. It goes through the same route where oxygen and nutrients pass through. 

Heroin impacts the functions of the central nervous system and brain. It can cause stomach problems. Using heroin can trigger severe health issues. The user may suffer from heart complications and pulmonary diseases. There are also other risks like kidney and liver disease and respiratory failure. Infectious diseases are also a problem such as HIV or hepatitis.

Illegal medications like heroin, cannabis, cocaine, and methamphetamine are not the only drugs damaging the baby’s growth. Even commonly used over-the-counter drugs, along with substances like caffeine and liquor, can have enduring impacts on an unborn baby.

How Heroin Affects the Fetus

There are many severe conditions that the fetus can suffer from because of the mother taking heroin. One of those is when the placenta divides from the barrier of the uterus. The placenta provides the child, through the umbilical cord, with nutrients and oxygen. Placental abruption can trigger very severe bleeding, and both the mother and fetus may die.

Premature labour is another risk of taking heroin while pregnant. It is when labour starts too early. It may happen about 37 weeks into the pregnancy. Premature labour may result in premature birth. It is possible that the fetus may not survive or may be underdeveloped. 

Low birth weight is also a concern. It is when a child weighs less than 5 pounds and 8 ounces. Some children with low birth weight, though tiny, are safe. But some children may have severe health issues due to low birth weight. A child with low birth weight may have difficulty eating, gaining weight, and battling various infections.

Are Any Drugs Safe During Pregnancy?

While it is considered safe for a few prescriptions and over-the-counter medications to be used during pregnancy, most drugs are not. And when you are taking medications for medical purposes, always read the medication label if they are safe to use while pregnant. But if you’re unsure, you can call your doctor and ask for advice.

Aspirin and ibuprofen should not be taken during the last three months of your pregnancy unless instructed by your doctor. And also talk with your doctor about special prenatal vitamins that are safe for you and the fetus. Some OTC vitamins may have doses that are too high and may affect the fetus.

When a pregnant woman has been using cocaine, she should not stop cold turkey. Quitting all of a sudden may cause severe problems on the fetus, even death. She can be given treatment meds such as methadone or buprenorphine by the doctor. These medications can help in reducing heroin dependence gradually. 

How To Quit Heroin Use

Imagine yourself falling into a dark pit without any means of climbing up and escaping the dark abyss. This image is the best analogy of what it’s like being addicted to heroin. However, not all people comprehend how others become drug addicts. People might think that it’s their choice and that they are reckless with their decisions. But addiction to drugs is a very complex disease, and it shouldn’t be treated lightly.

Addiction is characterized by compulsively searching for the drug and using it despite very harmful results. Although taking the drug is voluntary at the start, consuming the drug repeatedly leads to addiction. It may also lead to biological damage to your bodies, such as brain damage and behaviour disorder.

Related article: Heroin Addiction Treatment: Is It Doable?

Steps To Recovery

You can start by asking yourself simple questions; What was the impact in your life when you use heroin? What have you lost in the process? What will happen to you and your future when you continue consuming the drug? But more importantly, ask yourself over and over how your life will improve if you stop using heroin?

When you consume heroin, your body develops a resistance to the drug. When your body establishes resistance to heroin, it would want you to consume more and more of it to get the same high. Your body now starts depending on your consumption of the drug all the time. 

When the time comes when you try and quit heroin, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include itching, chills, vomiting, and constant pain in your muscles and bones. There are also other withdrawal symptoms such as infections, pneumonia, collapsed veins, and so much more.

Getting Out of Heroin Addiction

Many do not understand why other people become addicted to heroin. Drug addiction is a disease, and quitting such takes more than willpower to do so. With proper support from families, friends, and the community, heroin addicts can seek help. There are numerous rehab facilities dedicated to drug addicts and treatments according to the type of drug they use. There are many options for people under heroin abuse. 

Related article: What to Expect During Heroin Withdrawal?

Rehab and treatment centers have programs such as residential, outpatient, and aftercare treatments. Treating heroin addiction is accompanied by medications. These medications can reduce the cravings for the drug and will prevent future use. Medications that are commonly prescribed to people addicted to heroin include:

Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine is a mu-opioid and kappa-opioid used for the treatment of opioid addiction, severe pain, and chronic pain. Buprenorphine might be dangerous to a person who is not ready to stay clean from heroin. If someone uses buprenorphine and heroin at the same time, they are highly at risk with acute symptoms of withdrawal and possible overdose. It is recommended to take the medication directly as prescribed by the physician.

Methadone 

Methadone is an opioid used in maintenance therapy in heroin dependence and for chronic pains. During detoxification, the use of methadone can be accomplished in less than a month or can be done gradually for as long as six months. Methadone works in the same way as buprenorphine, although stronger. According to studies, methadone is the most effective medication for long term therapy.

Naltrexone

Naltrexone is primarily used to help manage dependence on alcohol and opioid. It helps in preventing heroin from reaching the opioid receptors in the body. An individual cannot feel any euphoric effects while under the medication of Naltrexone.

Suboxone

Suboxone – is a combination of Naltrexone and Buprenorphine. It will not only relieve pain from withdrawal, but it will also inhibit the effects of heroin in the body. Suboxone is highly dangerous to take if the person decides to use heroin again and try to get high. 

Another treatment for overcoming heroin addiction is behavioural therapies. Methods like cognitive-behavioural therapy and contingency management are proven effective based on studies. These approaches in treating heroin addiction are most effective with the assistance of medical treatments.

Behavioural Therapies

Cognitive-behavioural therapy can help in managing and changing behaviours. It helps in effectively managing triggering factors and stress. Contingency management is a treatment that motivates the patient to stay clean from the drug by giving rewards and incentives for good behaviour.

Some treatment centres also offer an additional option for behavioural therapy such as dialectical behavioural therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy. Treatment centres usually provide a comfortable and healthy environment. The staff will make sure that you will stay healthy, both body and mind, while in treatment.

Communities are also helping in supporting treatments for people with heroin addiction. Several formed groups also help people in treatment stay clean. People who overcome addiction are usually invited to participate in several gatherings. These meetings focus on the welfare of people who are recovering from heroin addiction.

Related article: Heroin Addiction Treatment: What You’ll Know about Rehab Will Shock You

Takeaway

Seeking help for your heroin addiction is not that complicated. A person must only be committed to stop using heroin and ask for help. People undergoing treatment also need support from their families and friends. 

Addiction is a dangerous disease for anyone, especially for pregnant women and the fetus. Hopefully, this article on the harmful effects of heroin while pregnant has provided you with the information that you need. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us here at Addiction Healing Centre.

Heroin Addiction Treatment: Is It Doable?

Heroin Addiction Treatment: Is It Doable

Does heroin addiction treatment work for people who want to recover from addiction? These days, to cope with the difficulties of life, more and more people are succumbing to drug use despite the adverse effects these drugs bring to their lives.

One of these drugs is heroin. Heroin addiction is a difficult challenge to face for both the person suffering from it and the ones surrounding them. However, this condition is treatable with the right interventions.

We will discuss heroin addiction treatment in this article.

We will discuss what heroin addiction is, how to identify people who are more at risk to suffer from it. Also, we will tackle how to recognize the specific signs and symptoms of the said addiction, heroin addiction treatment through detoxification and rehabilitation with the help of naturally raising dopamine levels, and lastly, the crucial role of loved ones in overcoming heroin addiction.

Related article: Mind-Boggling Facts about Heroin

Heroin Addiction: What You Should Know

Heroin, which also goes by the name diamorphine, is a substance derived from opium poppies. It is an opioid used medically in some countries as a form of pain reliever. It is also commonly used as a recreational drug, which leads to addiction for many.

Let us go to the science behind why heroin is addictive. Heroin causes addiction because it makes the brain release a massive amount of the chemical dopamine.

Dopamine is sometimes called the “feel-good hormone” or “pleasure chemical.” Dopamine, as a chemical, has several effects on our mood. When our bodies have large amounts of dopamine, we feel enthusiastic and motivated, like everything is in the right place. However, when our bodies have lower levels of dopamine, this motivation dips down as well, making us feel, in extreme cases, hopeless, depressed, and miserable.

Heroin is addictive. It causes the brain to produce a massive amount of dopamine, which results in a high-like or pleasurable feeling. However, this high is only momentary. Once the extremely high dopamine level decreases, there is a tendency to crave the same intense euphoric feeling again and take more doses of heroin. That is how the addiction starts.

People at risk of suffering from heroin addiction

Anyone of any age, gender, race, etc. can suffer from heroin addiction. However, some people are more at risk than others. 

Several factors may make someone more prone to heroin addiction. For example, those with severe and disabling depression may be more likely to be addicted to heroin. Due to the overwhelming feeling of sadness and anxiety, they may turn to heroin as a way to feel happy again and forget about the world.

Another example would be those who suffer sudden losses. It may be a sudden loss of a beloved loved one, an unexpected loss of a cherished job, or a loss of a considerable sum of money or something unexpected. The unforeseen downturn of events may make them resort to heroin to lift their spirits.

Others who are susceptible to addiction are those who are habitually partaking in risk-taking behaviour. Thrill-seeking, when pushed to the extreme, may provoke trying out drugs like heroin. From just a single trial “just for the experience and thrill,” a full-blown addiction may start, as the body will begin craving for the effects of the drug.

Also, those with a history of addiction with other drugs, tobacco, alcohol, and other things may trigger an addiction to heroin. Heroin addiction can prove fatal or cause worse effects on a person’s life, especially when paired with different addiction types.

These are only some of the possible factors that make people at risk for heroin addiction. It does not mean, however, that the possession of these factors automatically leads to addiction. The development of heroin addiction is still on a case-to-case basis. It only serves to remind people that they should be more mindful of their actions and seek help instead of relying on an addiction to cope.

How to Spot Heroin Addiction

If you notice these signs, especially if they are alarmingly increasing in intensity and frequency, then you or your loved one may be suffering from heroin addiction.

Physical Symptoms include:

  • needle marks (from heroin injection)
  • runny nose or nose sores (from snorting the heroin)
  • constricted pupils
  • constipation
  • heightened pain tolerance
  • slurred speech

Changes in mood include:

  • agitation and restlessness
  • drowsiness and lethargy
  • depression
  • memory problems

Changes in behaviour include:

  • neglect for personal hygiene which is incredibly worsening
  • becoming more and more secretive about activities and whereabouts
  • the unreasonable and sudden need for vast amounts of money 
  • declining performance at school or work
  • participating in risky or dangerous behaviour

Related article: Heroin Addiction Treatment: What You’ll Know about Rehab Will Shock You

How is heroin addiction treated?

Although it is not an easy process, heroin addiction treatment is entirely doable. There is hope for everyone who is suffering from addiction. With the support and understanding of medical professionals as well as loved ones, friends, partners, and other valuable and supportive people, anyone can get out of heroin addiction.

The types of treatment someone with heroin addiction must vary greatly in several factors including the length of the habit, tolerance level, the age of the drug user, weight, medical history, and a whole lot of other factors.

There are several types of heroin addiction treatments. Usually, these treatment types are performed simultaneously to ensure that they are valid and that they will have lasting effects, to prevent relapse.

A medical specialist best supervise any attempts for heroin addiction treatment. It is to make sure that the treatment is accurate.

Below are the various methods for heroin addiction treatment:

Detoxification from heroin

The first step to heroin addiction treatment is detoxification. It involves clearing the toxins brought about by heroin from the body. Detox aims to smoothen the transition to other forms of therapy up to recovery. The process can take a couple of days up to more than a week. Like in every step of heroin addiction treatment, this process is also best supervised by a doctor.

Some of those addicted to heroin choose to quit “cold turkey,” and without the help of any medicine. However, this is not very realistic or achievable for everyone, as this requires enormous self-control. The more feasible way to do a heroin detox for most people is through the assistance of some medicine.

Below are some of the medicines administered to patients during the detoxification process. Note, however, to take these medicines under doctor’s supervision:

  • Buprenorphine
  • Clonidine
  • Methadone
  • Codeine Phosphate

During detoxification, expect to experience symptoms of withdrawal, especially at the onset. Physical symptoms for this may include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, hot and cold flashes, runny nose, abdominal cramps, and muscle aches, among others. Behavioural symptoms may include irritability, violence, anxiety, and mood swings. However, upon surpassing this stage, you are getting closer and closer to recovery.

Related article: What to Expect During Heroin Withdrawal?

Drug Rehabilitation Program

A drug rehabilitation program may also help. A drug rehabilitation program can usually last for a few months, and it can jumpstart your heroin addiction treatment journey.

Before the start of a rehabilitation program, each patient will undergo an evaluation. Every treatment is individualized and customized according to the assessment. The will also be a deliberation for the duration of drug use, the severity of the addiction, and other physical and mental conditions. From this, the most appropriate program will be designed and curated for the patient.

Drug rehabilitation programs also usually involve medical interventions. Pharmacological maintenance help alleviate cravings for the drugs, as well as withdrawal symptoms.

Mental health is also part of the healing process covered by the program. Many times, people suffer from heroin addiction due to psychological issues they cannot quickly resolve. The rehabilitation process involves managing anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and other mental health disorders.

During the program, therapies and classes are available as well. These will help the patient cope, as well as keep their minds off drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms. One of the therapies available can be group therapy. It is where patients can share with other patients their struggles, form a bond and a support group, and enhance their social skills. Another is individual therapy, where patients can discuss one-on-one with a licensed therapist, who can provide a sounding board as well as concrete steps to get over addiction.

Among the classes offered may be drug education classes. This way, patients will be educated about the concepts connected to and surrounding their drug addiction, which, in turn, helps them cope. Skills classes are also available for life skills which they can use to improve their quality of life once they get out of rehab.

Increase Dopamine Levels Naturally

After getting out of drug rehabilitation centers, it may become a bit of a challenge to maintain a drug-free life outside a structured environment that a rehabilitation center provides. One thing that can be done to help facilitate heroin addiction treatment, as well as post-rehabilitation maintenance, is raising your dopamine levels naturally. This way, a person will still feel the benefits of elevated dopamine levels such as feeling motivated and enthusiastic, without the adverse effects addictions may bring.

Related article: Various Effects of Heroin on the Body

That said, below are the ways one can raise dopamine levels, the all-natural way.

1. Cut back on saturated fat

Fatty foods are delicious for most people. Animal fat, butter, and other fats and oils add deliciousness to food. However, when consumed in enormous quantities, saturated fat is bad for the body. It also has a direct link to maintaining dopamine levels. According to some studies, too much fatty food can deplete dopamine levels. It will not help in your heroin addiction treatment.

2.Stock up on lots and lots of protein.

While fat is terrible for dopamine level maintenance, protein can do wonders for it. Eating more fish, chicken, beef, turkey, eggs, tofu, soy, dairy, legumes, and other healthy sources of protein helps raise dopamine. It is through an amino acid called tyrosine, found in foods rich in protein. Tyrosine can turn into dopamine through the help of enzymes within the human body. Due to this, more dopamine can be produced, elevating and maintaining the feeling of pleasure in the body.

3. Make it a habit to exercise.

Although more studies are needed to prove that exercise can raise dopamine levels, it is a proven fact that physical activities increase endorphins. Endorphins are the so-called “happiness hormones,” which reduces stress and improves mood. It will help in keeping a positive mindset as the patient goes on with their fight against heroin addiction.

4. Have plenty of hours for high-quality sleep

Lack of sleep may lead to a decrease in available dopamine receptors. Dopamine creates feelings of wakefulness. When depleted, the patient may feel sluggish and lethargic, and the mood may be down. To combat this, ensure regular and high-quality sleep to keep your dopamine levels preserved.

5. Bask under the sun

Extended periods of sunshine deprivation can reduce levels of dopamine. It is why others suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during seasons with low sunlight, such as during winter. Conversely, sunlight boosts dopamine in our bodies. Sunlight helps in improving a person’s mood. However, you also have to be careful of too much sun exposure, as ultraviolet (UV) rays are also harmful to the skin.

The importance of the role of loved ones during heroin addiction treatment

A heroin addiction treatment journey may involve a ton of ups and downs. People undergoing this may sometimes or often feel demoralized and unmotivated. They may also have trouble remembering things and keeping things in order in their daily lives. They may also feel ashamed of their condition and succumb to self-pity.

Family, friends, partners, and other people play a crucial role in helping out their loved ones who are undergoing heroin addiction treatment. As challengings situations may be, these people need to muster all their extra courage and tenacity. Soon they will find them self as a pillar of strength and a ray of sunshine for their loved ones.

Below are some tips on how to help those who are addicted to heroin:

1. Reduce conflict in your circle (if applicable)

A family or a group of friends who are full of conflicts is not an ideal support group for someone who is trying to recover from heroin addiction. These may increase the stress level, which may result to be tempted to retake drugs to feel good once again. If possible, settle conflicts within the group, or at least come to an amicable settlement to diminish or, at the very least, control conflict and tension. This way, everyone can partake in enjoyable bonding activities, which can also be of help to those who are undergoing heroin addiction treatment.

2. Educate yourself

As the famous saying goes, “knowing is half the battle.” Educate yourself by attending seminars and workshops on drug abuse, as well as those for related topics like mental health. This way, you are armed with expert knowledge, and can better navigate your way through a loved one’s struggle with heroin abuse.

3. Help your loved one follow every step of their treatment

On the course of heroin addiction treatment, your loved one may receive medicines, individual and group therapy, drug rehabilitation, and other forms of intervention. You can support them by reminding them of the schedules of when to take medicines, attend seminars, or go to appointments. If possible, you can also accompany them so they won’t feel alone. It will also help if you listen to any apprehension they may have about their medications, therapies, and the like. 

4. Accompany your loved one to recreational activities

Keep your loved one’s mind off heroin by engaging in fun and productive recreational activities together. They may lack the confidence and motivation to do these things alone, so you or other people who support your loved one should accompany them. These recreational activities may include learning and participating in different types of sports such as basketball and tennis or learning new skills such as how to play a musical instrument, baking, or speaking a new language. Engaging in artistic activities such as painting, writing, singing, and dancing may also help, and even serve as a catharsis for your loved one.

5. Persuade your loved one to join a support group

People who have experienced heroin addiction can best relate to what your loved ones are experiencing. Encourage your loved one to join peer support groups similar to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Research the nearest peer support group in your area and bring them there. Your loved one may be able to open up more to these people without feeling shame or judgement.

6. Reconnect your loved ones to friends and relatives

During the peak of their addiction, your loved one may have isolated him or herself from other people who used to be close to them. Serve as a bridge between them by reconnecting them. However, they also ensure that these relatives and friends are not suffering from addiction themselves. Renewing relationships with sober relatives and friends will help your loved one cope by being reminded of the good people and things in life before the addiction happened.

7. Provide and build strength for your loved one

Challenges and negative feelings are an inevitable aspect of life. No one can avoid them forever. However, suffering from problems does not have to result in destructive coping mechanisms such as heroin addiction. Instead, help your loved one develop toughness and perseverance against tragedies in life. Remind them that every struggle happens for a reason, that every trouble is temporary, and that every problem can ultimately be solved.

8. Identify and Provide Support for Heroin Addiction Relapse

Be mindful of the behaviour of your loved one. If they seem to be having the same behaviour as when they started their addiction, then they may be suffering from a relapse. Remind your loved one that relapse is normal and does not mean a complete failure. One can get over a relapse instead of submitting oneself to another start of heroin addiction. Treating it is a temporary roadblock to living a life completely free of heroin.

9. Never lose hope

Never lose hope: this goes for both of you and your loved one. In case of relapse and other roadblocks, keep the faith that these can all be solved. If the need to restart drug rehabilitation arises, then so be it. Do not lose heart and lose sight of your ultimate goal, which is a drug-free life for your loved one.

10. Take care of yourself too

As they instruct in airplanes, in case of emergencies, put on your oxygen mask first before helping others put on their own. Likewise, in the process of taking care of a loved one undergoing heroin addiction treatment, you may forget to take care of yourself in the process. You may get sick, neglect relationships, or fail to do things that make you happy. Do not forget to destress and continue living your life. This way, you have more chances to positively influence your loved one, instead of being dragged down by the situation.

Final Thoughts

Heroin addiction treatment is a combination of several factors. It includes medical and pharmacological intervention, individual and group therapies, rehabilitation, the support of family and friends. The perseverance of the one who suffers the addiction himself or herself is also a significant factor.

These methods work together in achieving healing and bringing back a better life for those who are challenged by addiction.

Heroin addiction is a grave condition that should be treated with utmost seriousness. However, one should not despair, as it is very treatable. Plenty of people have experienced addiction and have emerged victorious from their battle against it. Addiction does not have to be permanent, and recovery is very much achievable.

Related article: You’ll See the Colossal Effects of Substance Abuse Unfold

Various Effects of Heroin on the Body

Do you feel that your behaviour is getting out of control because of the effects of heroin on the body? It’s not easy to admit that you’ve become addicted to heroin. No one wants to admit that a drug has taken control of their life. But the first step to recovery and breaking free from the addiction is by admitting that there is an existing problem. 

If you are reading this because you want to know more about the effects of heroin on the body, then you’re on the right track. Read along so you can inform yourself not just of the effects of this drug but also what your options are when it comes to the treatments available. 

Heroin is among the top illegal drugs that are most commonly abused in North America. It is under the opiate family and is made from morphine and opium poppy plants. At present, addiction to heroin has become a very widespread disease that causes so many deaths every year. 

In this post, we will be looking deeper into the various effects of heroin on the body. If you are a heroin user, hopefully, this information may provide you with more understanding of what heroin addiction can do to your health and well-being. 

Heroin addiction gets worse every year. Many heroin users resort to this drug because they want to feed their addiction to prescription painkiller meds. Within the past years, as much as 80% of individuals who use heroin said that they turned to the drug because of their addiction to prescription opioids. 

That is why the use of prescription opioids should be done in a very careful manner. This is because one of the dangerous risks of it is turning to heroin abuse. It could lead to addiction and you may suffer the other effects of heroin on the body. 

If you or someone you know is having problems with heroin addiction, then it is vital that professional help is sought immediately. This post also hopes to provide a better understanding of how it works, heroin effects, risks of overdose, as well as how addiction to heroin can be treated successfully. 

Understanding What Heroin Is

What is Heroin? This is obviously the first question to ask if you want to gain a deeper understanding of what this drug is. Heroin is known by many names including dope and smack. This drug appears as a brown or white powder. 

There is also a variety that comes as a sticky substance known as black tar heroin. Users of this drug ingest it through snorting, smoking, or injecting it into the vein, into their muscle, or under their skin. The effects of heroin on the body are all harmful regardless of the manner of consumption.

As an opiate, it is naturally derived from the seed pods of the opium poppy plant. Users of heroin experience a certain kind of high which is very pleasurable and addictive. While heroin may give this feeling of elation, there are many long-term effects of heroin use that can be very harmful and dangerous to the body. Overdose from heroin use can cause serious consequences, even death. 

Even if heroin is created from morphine, the drug reverts to morphine once it gets to the brain. When it binds with opioid receptors, the parts of your brain that are responsible for mood and pleasure become triggered. These areas include your brain stem; the one that controls vital automatic functions of your body such as arousal, breathing, and blood pressure. 

Heroin is a drug that is very potent. Users of heroin can get high almost immediately after ingesting the drug. There has been a steady increase in the availability of heroin that it has become too easy to obtain. Many individuals from all walks of life and various backgrounds become addicted to heroin. 

The gateway drugs to using heroin are actually prescription medications for pain. If you have been given a prescription for narcotic medication, then know that you may be at risk of using heroin and getting addicted to it. Addiction to opioids has become so rampant in Canada and other countries that the number of people dying from opioid overdose daily is continually increasing. 

Because prescription opiates are naturally addictive, individuals who can no longer afford the medications resort to using heroin. This is because heroin is more available, it is more affordable, and they get a better and distinct high from it. 

What Heroin Looks Like

A part of understanding what heroin is included knowing how it looks like. If you suspect that your loved one is using this drug, then you ought to know its appearance so you can confirm if they are using heroin. Usually, heroin is in the form of a powder that is either brown or white. 

The colour of heroin may differ depending on the geographic location from which it is sourced. For example, in North America, heroin typically ranges from white to off-white powder. The colour of the drug also tells how pure it is. The whiter the powder is, then the purer it is. Heroin that is white is also more potent compared to the brown or off-white counterpart because those carry more impurities. 

Also, heroin may come as a solid and sticky black substance. This is known as sticky tar or black tar. When you touch this heroin variety, it is hard. This type of heroin has some slight and pungent smell like that when you smell the vinegar. The purest heroin powder does not have any odour. When black tar or brown heroin is smoked, the vinegar-like smell becomes stronger. 

It’s hard to find pure heroin because it is usually mixed with other substances and drugs. Most drug dealers do this so that they can make more profit. Doing this to pure heroin dilutes it but it doesn’t make it less dangerous. In fact, such drug combinations are hazardous because of the many effects of heroin on the body plus the different substances that have been mixed with it. 

Some of the substances and drugs that are commonly mixed with heroin are fentanyl, white sugar, flour, caffeine, talcum powder, rat poison, laundry detergent, and baking soda. As you can imagine, some of these substances are just outright dangerous like laundry detergent and rat poison. But this does not mean that the other substances are safer because those can still put the people using the drug at risk of hazardous side effects. 

An example here is heroin mixed with caffeine can mask the signs of a drug overdose. People who are using the drug will think that they need more of it. When they do, they may suffer from brain damage. They may even die because of it. 

People who use this drug know that heroin is so much more affordable compared to prescription opiates. This makes heroin a drug that is in demand. As a consequence, the risk of overdosing and death has also increased. This is because the drug dealers are trying to meet the high demand by mixing the drug with other dangerous substances. 

Why Heroin is Addictive

Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs around. There’s a lot of harmful effects of heroin on the body. If you are having problems with your heroin addiction, don’t lose hope because recovery from the addiction is still possible. What you have to understand that while it’s possible to recover from heroin addiction, it won’t be an easy process. That is why you have to prepare yourself for it and be committed to your goal of getting rid of the habit. 

Many heroin users have tried beating their addiction but have experienced relapse and returned to their old ways after being sober for some time. What makes recovery from heroin addiction so difficult? Let’s try to understand why heroin is so addictive and different heroin effects on the brain. 

Studies have stated that heroin can hijack the user’s brain and rewire it. When this happens, the brain begins to think that the drug is a necessary chemical. A brain that has become addicted to heroin is only focused on getting high regardless of the costs or consequences. That’s why heroin addicts can do extreme things just to get their fix. 

This drug also works in a similar manner to that of other opioids. It can increase the dopamine level that is being released to the user’s limbic reward system. This system is a part of our brain which is responsible for experiencing pleasure. It also drives all of the activities that give us intense pleasure like drinking, eating, and sex. 

When an individual uses heroin though, what the drug does is that it begins to take over the limbic reward system. This means that large volumes of dopamine are released, causing the high that the heroin user feels. After this experience, the heroin addict feels that the euphoria is slowly going away. This leads them to seek out heroin over and over for that high. Repeated use of this drug will eventually create tolerance and dependence on it, contributing to addiction to heroin. 

Heroin detox and withdrawal is a very challenging process. If it is not done properly and with sufficient guidance, it can be harmful to the user’s body. The process of heroin withdrawal can be very difficult for drug users who try quitting the habit by themselves. 

It’s because the drug has already affected the areas of their brain controlling planning, organization, and judgment. The drug also hijacks the motivational and memory systems of the brain. This causes the relentless pursuit of heroin to achieve that high no matter what the cost may be. 

Drug Rehabilitation vs. Drug Detox

There are so many challenges that you should be ready for if you want to quit heroin abuse. But don’t let those challenges intimidate you or stop you from working your way to sobriety. In this section, let’s discuss further some of the available treatments for heroin addiction. We will take a look at drug rehabilitation vs. drug detox. 

Rehab and detox are not one and the same. With detox, it is the process of stopping the drug use so that the body can get rid of the heroin in it. Detox is an important step when it comes to drug rehabilitation. But it is not enough to successfully quit their heroin use. The chances of relapse or going back to using heroin are high. 

What you should remember is that treatment for heroin addiction involves many phases. For example, you have to go through detox first, and then you may need medications to help with the withdrawal symptoms. To provide you with support and give you opportunities to learn coping skills, talk therapy is also an important component in drug rehabilitation. 

This is why heroin detox alone is not enough if you want to stop the habit of using drugs. You need the right set of treatments as well as a good support group to help you in your recovery from heroin addiction. When you do, there are more chances for a successful recovery and maintaining sobriety won’t be very difficult. It will still be challenging but knowing that you have a great support system will enable you to move forward and not go back to using drugs. 

Short-term Effects of Heroin

Heroin abuse causes so many effects on the body. Some of these effects are short-term while others are long-term effects. When the drug enters a user’s brain, it becomes converted into morphine. When this happens, it binds immediately with opioid receptors. 

Individuals who use this drug feel a rush or a surge of intense pleasure. The rush that they feel may vary; it can be more intense if they have taken high doses of heroin. The intensity of the high also depends on how fast heroin enters the user’s brain. So, this means that the manner in how the drug was ingested is also a factor in the kind of high that the user feels. 

With heroin use, the high that is felt is also accompanied by other effects such as the dry mouth and becoming flushed. The extremities may also feel heavier than usual. Some of the other short-term effects of heroin include severe itching, vomiting, and nausea. 

When the initial effects of heroin use begin to wind down, the user will feel drowsy for the next hours. This means that his or her mental function is also clouded and the heart functions decrease. Breathing slows down as well which could be dangerous. These effects have the potential to be life-threatening as it can lead to the person becoming comatose and suffer brain damage that could be permanent. 

Long-term Effects of Heroin

When heroin is used repeatedly, there will be significant changes to the physiology and physical structure of the brain of the user. This creates long-term abnormalities in the hormonal and neuronal systems, and they may not be reversed anymore. 

Many studies state that the white matter of the brain will eventually deteriorate because of repeated use of the drug. This can affect a person’s abilities for decision making and the capacity to regulate their behaviour. They will even find it difficult to respond to stressful events and situations. 

Heroin can also create physical dependence and tolerance. Tolerance happens when an individual needs more of the drug just to get the same kind of effect or high. As for physical dependence, the user’s body begins to adapt to the drug being in the system. When the person stops using the drug abruptly then he or she will experience withdrawal symptoms. 

Withdrawal can happen within just a few hours from the last intake of the drug. Some of the heroin withdrawal symptoms include being restless, bone and muscle pain, cold flashes, goosebumps, vomiting, diarrhea, and insomnia. 

Most of the major symptoms of heroin withdrawal may be felt the most within the next two days after the last heroin ingestion. It will, later on, subside after a week or so. However, it is possible for some individuals trying to recover from heroin addiction to still experience withdrawal symptoms even after months of staying clean. 

When the drug is used repeatedly, it can result in what is called heroin use disorder. This is a disease that is chroming and relapsing. It is beyond being physically dependent on the drug. With this disorder, the individual has drug-seeking behaviours that are uncontrollable. They will find ways to get their fix no matter what the consequences may be. 

Heroin is a drug that is extremely addictive and it doesn’t matter how a user ingests it. All ways of heroin ingestion are dangerous and hazardous to the body. Nevertheless, the manner with which heroin is consumed determines how fast the person develops heroin use disorder. When the individual develops the disorder, then using and seeking the drug will become the primary and singular purpose that they have in their life. 

Heroin Effects on the Brain

Some of the more immediate effects after ingesting heroin are pleasure and relief from pain. Heroin can have significant effects on areas of the brain controlling thoughts, heart rate, and breathing. Using the drug repeatedly develops dependence and addiction to heroin. 

In order to gain an understanding of how the drug affects the user’s brain, what should be first understood is how our brain functions. With millions of cells, our brain reacts to the different chemicals in our bodies. This includes those that we ingest or consume. Such reactions can have an impact on how the body functions. 

The brain cells that react to various chemicals are what we call receptors. Some of these receptors react only to particular chemicals. In this case, receptors reacting to heroin are what we call opioid receptors. These receptors in our brain can have an effect on the way with which we feel stress, anxiety, depression, pleasure, and pain. Along with these, the receptors also have an impact on our sleep, breathing, and appetite. 

Our brain can naturally produce chemicals like endorphins that link to the opioid receptors. The endorphins are chemicals that aids in reducing how we feel pain as well as help in regulating bodily functions. 

When a heroin user snorts, injects or smokes heroin, it enters the bloodstream rapidly and then goes into the brain. Once the drug is inside the brain, heroin then begins to attach to the opioid receptors. After that, it becomes converted into morphine and 6-MAM which is another chemical. 

Short-term Effects of Heroin on the Brain

Heroin’s immediate effects happen when it attaches to the brain’s opioid receptors. When this happens, the user feels the euphoria from the initial high. The time it takes for the conversion of heroin into 6-MAM and morphine is about twenty minutes. Many heroin users say that the high that they get from the drug only lasts for about five to fifteen minutes. 

The two chemicals, 6-MAM and morphine, can stay in the user’s brain for a longer time. They continue to be attached to the opioid receptors for a number of hours. These chemicals can still cause a high but it will be milder than the initial one that the user gets in the first few minutes after ingesting heroin. 

Pain Relief and Pleasure from Heroin

We feel pleasure from so many things such as when we hug someone we love or we eat food that we like. During such times, endorphins are released and they link to the opioid receptors of our brain. In the case of heroin use though, the opioid receptors become overwhelmed by the drug. This causes a huge surge of pleasure. Users say that whenever they ingest the drug, they feel extremely relaxed and happy. 

Our brain’s opioid receptors do more than just affect how we feel happiness. The drug can also aid in giving relief from feelings of anxiety, depression, and pain. Heroin can have the same effect as that of prescription opioids. When high opioid doses are attached to the receptors, the brain won’t be able to make you feel pain or discomfort. 

While this effect of heroin may sound positive, this does not mean that it is alright to take the drug. The risks associated with it are just not worth it. Our opioid receptors are in control of vital life functions, and taking heroin can disrupt very important processes that keep us alive and well. Flooding the brain with heroin will make the opioid receptors dysfunctional. 

Brain Damage from Heroin Abuse

Among the most common causes of brain damage from using heroin happens when it causes the user’s breathing to slow down at a very dangerous rate. Using the drug can prevent the brain from getting sufficient oxygen. 

And as we know, without the right amount of oxygen, the brain cells begin to die. When this happens, then the individual dies as well. Many heroin users die tragically because of a heroin overdose when they just stop breathing altogether. 

There are still some users who survive an overdose of heroin but there may be damage to the brain already. Brain damage because of a heroin overdose is determined by the length of time that the person did not have sufficient oxygen. 

There are some individuals who survived and were able to recover fully because the brain cells were not deprived of oxygen for a long time and did not die. Nevertheless, most cases of overdose cause significant brain damage that the way the brain works has been altered. Assistance or life support may become necessary for the rest of their remaining years. 

Long-term Effects of Heroin on the Brain

Our brain is a powerful organ. It can remember situations and events wherein we experienced a pleasure. When we have such memories, it motivates us subconsciously to seek out that pleasure. This is what we know as cravings. We crave for things that give us happiness. 

With heroin, the reward and pleasure system of our brain becomes disrupted when the opioid receptors become overwhelmed. This changes the ways in which the brain is supposed to function. How the individual can experience emotions as happiness becomes altered. Also, such changes cause heroin users to seek more of the drug. This is true even if heroin use is already causing them serious consequences. 

Heroin Use and Cravings

Heroin use can disrupt the brain’s reward system. Opioid receptors are overwhelmed by the drug that so much pleasure is felt by the user. The brain of a heroin addict will notice that the drug makes them feel great and makes them remember the times when the drug use caused that pleasure. Cravings happen because the brain learns that heroin causes happiness. 

Heroin Use, Drug Tolerance and Dependence

Using heroin repeatedly causes the brain’s opioid receptors to adapt. Over time, they become less responsive to the drug. When this point has been reached, then drug tolerance happens. Heroin users who have developed a high tolerance to the drug won’t be able to feel the same intensity of pleasure as when they first used it. 

Since the opioid receptors are no longer as sensitive to the effects of heroin as before, users take higher doses of the drug so that they can achieve the same kind of high. Continued use of heroin will cause the opioid receptors to adapt and the tolerance to the drug increases continually as well. 

As the opioid receptors of the brain adapt to the drug, they respond less to it. Apart from that, other changes also happen. This causes the user’s brain to become more reliant on heroin so that it can function normally. This is what is known as dependence. 

If the heroin user cannot ingest the drug, then the opioid receptors will function abnormally. When the brain has this abnormal activity, it can cause withdrawal symptoms which cause a lot of discomfort to the individual. 

Heroin Addiction

Every time a drug user ingests heroin, the changes in the reward system of the brain becomes reinforced. This causes intense cravings for the drug. The opioid receptors continually adapt to their exposure to heroin and make the user more dependent on it as the drug use goes on. 

While there are many factors to be considered such as environmental and genetic factors, heroin users may develop the disease which is called heroin addiction. Heroin use can cause changes to parts of their brain that work on the pleasure, motivation, and self-control. Often, heroin addicts use the drug because they do not want to experience heroin withdrawal symptoms. 

If there is no treatment for drug use, heroin addicts won’t be able to quit using the drug. Alone, they will be left incapable of changing the long-term effects of heroin caused. Professional help is needed to successfully combat heroin addiction. 

Heroin detox and rehabilitation is an important step in helping the brain to recover from the changes that took place because of drug dependence. When the heroin user has already completed detox as well as overcame the withdrawal symptoms, then therapy and counselling are the next steps. These ensure that they will be given the opportunity to learn how to be able to control their cravings for the drug as well as make healthier decisions for themselves. 

Heroin Addiction Treatments

There are several treatments available for people who have become addicted to heroin. The treatments include both pharmacological and behavioural approaches. These two aids in restoring some level of normalcy when it comes to the way that the brain functions as well as with the individual’s behaviour. 

Treatments for heroin addiction can greatly help recovering addicts to get their life back. They get a chance to find work and lessen the risk of criminal behaviour and being exposed to diseases like HIV. However, even if pharmacological and behavioural treatments truly help recovering addicts kick the bad habit of drug use, studies have shown that a combination of these treatments is more effective as compared to using just one. 

Pharmacological Treatments for Heroin Addiction

Studies have established that medications or pharmacological treatment for heroin addiction significantly increases the chances of the recovering addict to stay in treatment as well as commit themselves to decrease their drug use. Also, medications for heroin addiction also lessen the risks of criminal activity and the transmission of infectious diseases. 

When heroin addicts first quit, they will experience withdrawal symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and pain. These withdrawal symptoms can range from mild discomfort to severe ones. The meds for heroin addiction can help in this stage of detoxification because they can help with the craving as well as other symptoms that can push a recovering addict to relapse and return to drug use. 

The meds that have been developed in order to treat heroin addiction work in a similar fashion when it comes to how it affects those opioid receptors. However, it is much safer and there are fewer harmful behaviours that will be produced because of it. 

There are three kinds of medications for heroin addiction. They are agonists, partial agonists, and antagonists. Whichever medication will be prescribed to the individual would have to depend on his or her particular needs as well as other factors that need to be considered. Here are some of the more common medications for heroin addiction. 

  • Methadone – This drug is an agonist but a slow-acting one. It is ingested orally so it reaches the brain much slower compared to how heroin is consumed. This manner of administration dampens the high that happens when other methods are used. It also helps in preventing symptoms of withdrawal. Addiction treatment specialists have been using methadone since the 1960s as a treatment option for those with heroin addiction. It is an excellent choice for people who don’t seem to respond well when taking other meds. 
  • Buprenorphine – This medication is an example of a partial agonist. It helps in relieving cravings for heroin without giving the individual that high or any other hazardous side effects. Like methadone, buprenorphine is also ingested orally so that it won’t produce a high.  If buprenorphine were to be injected, then it will induce symptoms of withdrawal. This can be averted for as long as the drug is taken orally as instructed by the physician. 
  • Naltrexone – This is an antagonist and it blocks the opioids. It is neither sedating nor addictive. There’s also no risk of developing physical dependence. Nevertheless, some recovering addicts still find it challenging to comply with treatment. As a result, the effectiveness of this medication has been limited. 

Behavioural Therapies for Heroin Addiction

There are a number of behavioural therapies for heroin addiction that recovering addicts can choose from. The therapies may be conducted in residential or outpatient settings. These approaches, including cognitive-behavioural therapy as well as contingency management, have been effective when it comes to treating heroin addiction. They are more effective when combined with medications though. 

With contingency management, a system that is voucher-based is used. How this works is that the recovering addict can earn points from making sure that their drug test results turn out negative. They can then use their vouchers to get items that can help them live healthier lives. 

As for cognitive-behavioural therapy, it is designed to change the way the recovering addict behaves in relation to his or her drug use. Also, individuals are given the chance to learn skills on how they can better cope when they are in a stressful situation. 

These two types of behavioural therapies are just examples of the options that recovering addicts have for this kind of treatment. It is important that the person who wants to recover from heroin addiction be given the right treatment by matching his or her needs to the treatment that will be most helpful.

Some of the other behavioural treatments include family behaviour therapy which involves the individual’s family and close loved ones.  The point of the therapy is to engage the significant people in the person’s life by encouraging them to apply the many behavioural strategies that they learn from the therapy sessions. An example here is improving their home environment so that it will encourage their recovering loved one to lead a healthier life. 

Each therapy session provides the opportunity for the recovering addict and his or her family to review their goals and whether those have been met. The participants of the therapy session get to participate in the planning, which interventions to apply, and the treatment options that can be further explored. 

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this article was able to provide you with enough information about heroin use, drug addiction, the effects of heroin on the body, and the treatments available to combat the addiction. Knowing as much as you can about the drug is the first important step that you need to take on your road to recovery so that you will become more aware of how heroin use affects your life and the life of your loved ones. 

Once you are ready for the next step which is seeking professional help, you may be surprised that there will be so many people who will be more than happy to help you and give you support all throughout your recovery process. This includes your family, friends, colleagues, doctors, and fellow individuals who are recovering from addiction. 

Heroin addiction recovery is not going to be an easy road to take but it will be worth your while. Don’t think that your life is hopeless and there’s nothing left for you to live for. There are so many people who want to see you bounce back and become a productive and happy individual again. If they see that glimmer of hope in you, then you should also believe in yourself that you can make things happen. 

The first step to take is admitting that there is an existing problem. It’s hard to think that you’ve become addicted to drugs like heroin but once you recognize this, then you’ll know what kind of help you should look for. The treatments may vary from person to person. Don’t be daunted by it because you and your doctor and healthcare professionals will help you in looking for the right treatment combinations that will work best for you. Break free from heroin addiction today and seek professional help.

Mind-Boggling Facts about Heroin

What Does Heroin Look Like?

 There’s a colorful background behind the opioid drug called heroin which earned it a controversial place in history. The drug is synthesized from another equally addictive and popular substance, morphine, which is derived from the opium poppy plant seed pod. The drug looks like a brown or white powder but there is a black sticky variant which is also referred to as the “black tar heroin.” 

Fact 1: Heroin Use 

Heroin is used in many ways specifically through injection, sniffing or snorting, and smoking. When administered, the drug reaches the brain in a rapid manner, contributing to further health risks as well as the risk of addiction. Many people experience relapse due to the alterations in the brain particularly the tendency to excessively look for the drug regardless of the consequences. 

Fact 2: How Heroin Works in the Body ? 

Heroin turns back into morphine once it entered the brain, binding the substance to the cell molecules known as opioid receptors. Various areas of the brain and the body in general, have opioid receptors particularly those that are responsible for the perception of reward and pain. The brain stem also contains opioid receptors and this section controls the blood pressure, respiration, and arousal.   

Fact 3: Effects of Heroin 

When the body experiences heroin overdose, it immediately suppresses the respiratory system, particularly breathing which results to hypoxia as the oxygen that reaches the brain is affected. There are short-term and permanent effects in the neurological and psychological aspect such as permanent brain damage and comatose.  

There’s a significant impact on the body especially when heroin is administered through injection. For instance, the user feels an instant surge of rush or euphoria while the person also experiences warm flushing, dry mouth, and heavy extremities, on top of an impaired mental functioning. The person also experiences the alternate state of wakefulness and drowsiness. Prolonged use of heroin results in tolerance to the drug which leads to the need for a higher dosage. 

Fact 3: Heroin Addiction Treatment 

Numerous treatments are known to help people get out of their heroin addiction and survive it. Some of the known treatments include behavioral therapies as well as medications. The approved and authorized medications for heroin addiction include methadone and buprenorphine. These medications are known to bind to the cell receptors that heroin also attaches to. The effect of this drug is to wean the person off the drug, reduce the craving for heroin, and prevent it from affecting the person with the same impact through using the opioid-blocking drug, naltrexone. The drug, naloxone, is another medication but it is more of an emergency treatment which is used to counteract the often life-threatening effects of heroin overdose. 

Heroin addiction has affected countless Canadians and people all around the world, with numerous deaths accounted to the overdose of this drug. The good news is that there are also recorded successful treatments and behavioral therapies to cure this life-altering and health-threatening drug dependence.

Heroin Withdrawal

What to Expect During Heroin Withdrawal?

Heroin is a highly-addictive drug, commonly used for recreational habits to obtain feelings of relaxation and euphoria. Although most first-time or casual heroin users don’t expect to become addicted, heroin is a strong substance that can quickly cause dependency.

As one of the most commonly-used drugs in Canada, many Canadians know about the harmful short and long-term effects of using heroin. However, it is the heroin withdrawal effects that not everyone is familiar with.

When an individual attempts to rid their body of the need for heroin, the detoxification process will begin. It is ideal that each individual is aware of the potential symptoms of heroin withdrawal, so that they may better prepare for the experience.

Consider the following information if you’re not sure what to expect during heroin withdrawal.

Strong Cravings

If taken enough times, the intensity of cravings for heroin will intensify when the substance begins to leave the body. Cravings are also felt when there is a desire to remove the negative feelings associated with withdrawal.

In many cases, users will continue to obtain heroin to avoid the intense cravings, and as a result a dependency can begin to take place. During detox, it is critical that users fight their cravings, so that they may move on to the next phase of recovery.

Mood Swings

Experiencing the feelings of euphoria from drug abuse can only last so long, and as that high comes down, withdrawal can cause anxiety, irritability, depression and more.

These feelings might also intensify for those who are experiencing stressful situations, or who have dealt with suppressed feelings from negative past experiences.

If you’re not sure what to expect during heroin withdrawal, prepare to feel a lot of negative emotions as the substance leaves your body. Keep in mind that having a strong support system in place during detox can help to offer encouragement and stability.

Nausea

Common symptom of heroin withdrawal include nausea and vomiting, which often also result in dehydration and exhaustion. Individuals who experience these symptoms should remember to hydrate and get their daily vitamins, since appetite may also be lacking.

Aches and Pains

Heroin is an opioid, which means it has the ability to block feelings of pain. When an individual is in withdrawal, it is common for any sores or pains to return. Plan to feel an all-over ache, particularly in the legs and back.

Restlessness

Meny addicts report having troubles sleeping during withdrawal, and heroin is no different. Addicts may experience sleepiness, restlessness and nightmares that cause added feelings of anxiety and stress.

Excessive Body Fluids

When an individual goes through withdrawal of heroin, the body has to work to re-balance itself again. This means working to get rid of harmful toxins and re-establishing the inner fluids. As a result, detox might be the cause of excess sweating, tears and a runny nose.

For those who don’t know what to expect during heroin withdrawal, it’s important to know that every individual’s experience will be different. Symptoms typically begin 6-12 hours after the last use, peaking at 1-3 days and ending after 5-7 days.

Withdrawal can be dangerous for many people, and it is suggested that you have someone with you during this part of the process to ensure your safety.