Nearly half a million Americans struggle with heroin addiction on a daily basis, but they don’t have to suffer alone—there are numerous treatments available to help them attain a healthier future.
Realizing Heroin Is the Enemy
Heroin use is on the rise, and it causes incredible damage to the human body. Like many other addictive substances, it alters brain chemistry and taxes the body’s organs. After extended exposure, the body develops a dependence that must be met, otherwise withdrawal symptoms begin. Heroin not only affects the body, but it can also affect relationships, leading to mistrust and feelings of betrayal.
Sadly, many heroin addictions result in overdose. As the body’s tolerance increases, the dosage required to achieve the desired results also increases. Heroin in particular is dangerous because in high concentrations it lowers heart rate and breathing to a level that can quickly become fatal.
Unfortunately, many overdose deaths also follow detox. When people relapse after completing a detox program, they often don’t realize their tolerance has been lowered. and what was previously a normal dose is now more than their bodies can handle.
For these reasons, it’s important to start and remain on the path to recovery.
The Recovery Process
Recovery begins by breaking the physical dependence on heroin by removing all access to it. After a short period of time, withdrawal symptoms will begin. These symptoms include:
- Outbursts of anger
- Anxious behavior
- Difficulty sleeping
- Increased perspiration
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pains
Some or all of these symptoms may occur, but they can be mitigated by medications such as buprenorphine or naloxone. Nalaxone is effective both for counteracting an overdose and for being part of a medication-assisted treatment plan, and it works by inhibiting the opioid receptors affected by heroin. Buprenorphine is used to offset withdrawal symptoms during detox and is also used long-term to manage cravings.
Use of these drugs in managing withdrawal symptoms is beneficial because without them, it can be incredibly difficult to overcome the dependence on heroin. Once the body has grown accustomed to the constant presence of the drug, the severe discomfort of withdrawal symptoms make it likely that a person will go back to using just to end the severe discomfort of the withdrawal symptoms.
Medication is not only effective for treating withdrawal symptoms; it can also be an important part of the recovery process by helping the body cope with the continued absence of heroin. Medication-assisted treatment involves the use of medications which counteract the negative impact of heroin and other opioids. These medications assist in restoring normal brain chemistry and reducing cravings. Using these medications may help avoid a relapse.
Therapy is another critical part of recovery. Therapy addresses the behavioral components of addiction and the underlying issues that contributed to the addiction. Learning new habits and skills, repairing damaged relationships and improving mental health are some of the benefits of therapy. Just as medication corrects brain chemistry, behavioral therapy can provide insight into the issues which may have led to the initial drug use and provide the patient with a new outlook on life.
What’s On the Horizon?
Overcoming a heroin addiction may be the most difficult challenge a person faces in their life, and the recovery process involves determination, fortitude and a desire for a healthier life. Medications and therapy are important aspects in recovery, and with their help, a person who struggles with heroin addiction can find the path to a better, more fulfilling life. Contact Nova Recovery Center if you or someone you know needs help with heroin addiction.