Opiate abuse and addiction impacts more people than we might realize. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, there were 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015, with more than 20,000 of those related to prescription painkillers and another nearly 13,000 involving heroin. The opioid epidemic is increasing in our country and it shows no signs of stopping. With doctors continuing to prescribe opioids for pain relief and synthetic drugs like heroin and fentanyl covering the streets, opioid addiction continues to increase.
But it’s important to not blame this addiction on the user. Opiate addiction, including heroin addiction, is a complex behavioral condition that affects the way the brain functions and in order to get help, clients and their families must seek ongoing treatment catered to them. Each treatment program is different and our medical specialists understand the process of fitting a rehabilitation to each client, instead of the other way around.
Heroin Addiction Symptoms
Heroin addiction symptoms transcend much more than just a user’s physical health. They can impact their relationships with family and friends, their career, their safety, and other individuals’ safety. Let’s look at some of the most common heroin addiction symptoms:
Increased heart rate
High blood pressure
Major weight loss or weight gain
Increased sensitivity to stimuli
Distancing oneself from family and friends
Loss of interest in activities that one previously enjoyed
Stealing money to buy drugs
Abandonment of responsibilities at work or at home
Putting oneself in dangerous situations to obtain heroin
It’s important to remember that the signs and symptoms of heroin addiction may present themselves differently in each individual, but if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, consider speaking with a treatment specialist.
Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
One of the most difficult parts of getting sober is heroin withdrawal symptoms. Not only are these symptoms extremely uncomfortable and painful, but they can also be fatal. Continued opiate use can lead to an increased heart rate and high blood pressure, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. This is why clients should always go through an accredited detox program to ensure their safety.
Many users think that cutting themselves off “cold turkey” is the best way to get sober, but this is actually the opposite of the truth. Professional detox is the first step in getting sober because medical professionals are dedicated to monitoring your symptoms and making them as manageable as possible. Some detox programs, such as medically-assisted detox, use opioid antagonists, such as Buprenorphine, Suboxone, Naltrexone, and others, to shorten withdrawal symptoms and lower their severity. This means that once a client’s body is free of heroin, they are ready to get started on their long-term recovery journey without the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
Effects of Heroin Use
One of the reasons why heroin withdrawal symptoms are so intense is because opiates actually change the way your brain functions. Opiates, like heroin, are a class of drug that acts as depressants on our central nervous system. This means that they latch on to our brains’ natural opiate receptors and block the feeling of pain. In doing so, they trigger neurotransmitters to release more feel-good hormones, such as dopamine, which is responsible for the feeling of euphoria users experience.
The problem arises in the continued use of heroin because the brain becomes accustomed to this process and needs the drug to not only feel good but function normally. When this cycle is triggered, our brains label it as a reward, which means it repeats the behavior. This repetition, combined with the increased dose of heroin to experience the same high, can lead to heroin addiction.
This problem is exacerbated when a client struggles with co-occurring disorders. According to Behavioral Health Evolution, co-occurring disorders, or dual disorders, are when an individual has a mental health disorder and also struggles with a substance use disorder. Some of the most common co-occurring disorders involve mood and anxiety disorders, such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, or schizoaffective disorder. Approximately 7.9 million adults in the United States had co-occurring disorders in 2014.
Co-occurring disorders play a large role in the type of treatment a client needs. Addressing only the substance abuse disorder is only half the equation, so these individuals should find a treatment program that addresses their mental health condition, as well. At Manifest Recovery Centers, we understand the importance of dual disorder diagnoses and work with our clients’ individual needs. With the proper treatment, we can address the mental, behavioral, and physical components of opiate addiction.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment
In finding the right treatment for each individual, many people wonder if inpatient or outpatient treatment is right for them. The answer depends on the substance, severity of abuse or addiction, the client’s substance use and medical history, and more. Let’s look at the difference between the two programs:
Inpatient care is intensive residential care where a client stays in the facility for a determined amount of time. These stays can range from 30 to 60 to even 90 days, depending on a client’s needs. During this time, clients work with medical practitioners and professional therapists and are able to completely focus on their sobriety. Inpatient treatment doesn’t have any of the distractions of everyday life and each client’s schedule is regimented and accounted for.
Outpatient treatment is a part-time program where clients attend recovery programs in addition to managing their everyday life. These programs can be in the evening or on weekends so as not to disrupt a client’s work or school schedule. They are often less intensive, but still, cover the important therapies needed for long-term success. They are less structured, which make them the next step in a client’s journey because they can transition back to normal life or live in a sober living facility while still receiving extended treatment.
Another flexible heroin addiction treatment option for clients is a telehealth program. Telehealth programs allow clients to continue to nurture the peer support they cultivated during treatment. It also allows them to share their experience and support via technology. Telehealth may include continual support and monitoring and access to care resources, coping skills, and peer involvement no matter where you are.
Telehealth has been used in many different fields of medicine, but it’s just now starting to play a role in addiction recovery. This powerful technology could allow those in rural or remote areas to get the treatment they deserve from top-notch facilities. It serves as a means of communication, motivation, and will help clients continually monitor their progress. This immense flexibility, privacy, and convenience is invaluable.
Ready to start on your recovery journey? Contact our admissions team today.