People who struggle with addiction may not always be open about their drug use. In fact, they may be completely unaware of how things have spiraled out of control. Addiction to heroin is a severe substance use disorder that is frequently characterized by a strong psychological and physical dependence. It might be challenging for a layperson to recognize signs of heroin addiction in a loved one. In this article, you’ll learn the signs of heroin addiction to watch out for in your loved one and the available treatment options.
What is Heroin?
Heroin is a semi-synthetic opioid made from morphine, which is a natural substance derived from the seed pods of the opium poppy plants. Heroin can come in the form of a brown or white powder, or a black sticky substance called black tar heroin. Among other names, popular names for heroin are China White, Dope, Brown Sugar, Junk, Horse, and Smack. Heroin is snorted (inhaled through the nose), injected, or smoked. Some people also practice speedballing (mixing heroin with crack cocaine). When heroin gets to the body, it creates a euphoric feeling, and for a while, it seems as though time has stopped. Some users say they feel as if they are in a dream. Heroin, like other opioids, blocks the body from transmitting pain messages, creating a feeling of pleasure, and slowing the heart rate and breathing.
To cope with mental health issues like anxiety and depression, many people start using heroin and develop a substance use disorder over time. According to one study, 75% of people who misused heroin had mental health issues such as bipolar disorder.
How Addictive is Heroin?
Heroin is a highly addictive and dangerous opioid. The intense effect heroin has on the brain’s reward system makes heroin addiction so rampant. Heroin disrupts the brain’s reward system by influencing the production of feel-good neurotransmitters such as dopamine and endorphins. Typically, these brain chemicals aid pain management and promote survival-related behaviors such as eating. However, once a person begins using heroin, the brain quickly associates heroin with the release of the feel-good neurotransmitters. Over time, the user may develop a tolerance to heroin, requiring higher/more frequent doses to achieve the same effect. Eventually, the user becomes hooked on the substance and is unable to function without it. Furthermore, the withdrawal symptoms of heroin make it difficult for addicts to quit on their own.
What Are the Signs of Heroin Addiction?
You may not notice any heroin addiction signs when your loved one starts using heroin, especially if they try so hard to hide their drug use. However, the heroin use signs become obvious after a while.
Here are some heroin addict symptoms to watch out for:
- Constricted pupils
- Slurred speech
- Slow breathing
- Dry mouth
- Nausea and vomiting
- Suddenly falling asleep
- Agitation and fatigue
- Lessened pain perception
- Memory issues
- Nasal congestion or sores (when the drug is snorted)
- Needle marks (if the drug is injected)
Other heroin abuse symptoms include:
- Continued use despite negative effects
- Secrecy and aggression
- Financial problems
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Feeling heavy
Heroin can cause constipation, so people who abuse it often need laxatives or stool softeners.
How to Treat Heroin Addiction?
Heroin use disorder can be successfully treated with a range of behavioral and pharmaceutical approaches. According to research, combining behavioral and pharmaceutical therapy is the most effective strategy for heroin addiction treatment for many patients, even though both types of treatments can be quite helpful when used separately. Detoxification is usually the first step in heroin addiction treatment. When people who are addicted to heroin first try to quit, they may experience severe withdrawal symptoms. This makes it difficult for addicts to stop using the substance on their own. In treatment facilities, medications are often used in the detoxification process to ease withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and other symptoms that may lead to a relapse.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved three medications for treating heroin addiction and other opioids. Although these medications act on the same opioid receptors as heroin, they are much safer. The medications are administered to patients based on their specific needs.
Usually, medications and behavioral therapies are incorporated into the treatment plan for heroin addiction. This is known as medication-assisted treatment (MAT). To learn more about medication-assisted treatment and partial hospitalization programs, contact us today.
While medications make going through treatment easier, behavioral therapies help patients build relevant coping skills and behaviors to avoid relapse and maintain recovery.
Cognitive behavioral therapy and contingency management are two forms of behavioral therapy shown to be effective in the treatment of heroin addiction. Get help for heroin addiction today at Principles Recovery. At Principles Recovery Center, you will be provided with the most effective care based on your unique needs. Principles Recovery Center is a family that welcomes anyone who needs help with substance use disorders or mental health problems. Contact us now to learn how our South Florida drug rehab programs can help you today.