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Heroin Addiction Treatment

Heroin – A Common Killer

Heroin addiction is common, and brutal. Taking advantage of the brain receptors intended for naturally produced neurochemical receptors, this opium poppy derivative causes severe addiction in tandem with an array of other physical problems. Heroin is considered one of the harder drugs to quit.

Facing withdrawal and treatment:

  • The nature of a heroin addiction.
  • What will detox involve?
  • What can I do to stay off heroin?

Heroin’s Physical Effects

Heroin is an opiate drug, a derivative of morphine, which is produced directly from opium resin. The chemical quickly crosses the blood-brain barrier and is converted back into morphine, which bonds to the opioid neurological receptors in the brain. Heroin produces a rush, followed by mental and physical lethargy. Heroin produces a “better” and more immediate and intense rush than normal brain-produced natural opiates. Natural opiates are generated within the body and fulfill pain-control and other functions.

Our brains are often driven by “more is better,” instincts, and because of the exaggerated response to heroin, the brain quickly develops a compulsion for the drug and a negative response to being restricted to ordinary opiates produced as the body demands. The compulsion, over time, becomes addiction. Heroin addiction eventually leads to an ever-increasing need for the drug, severe withdrawal symptoms, and permanent alteration of the brain structure.

Detox Challenges

Detox is not a pleasant experience, but it is particularly unpleasant for heroin addicts. Withdrawal regularly involves severe bone and muscle pain, cramps, nausea, severe chills, diarrhea, and insomnia. Hallucinations, paranoia, severe depression, anxiety, and more are ordinary reactions. Withdrawal usually takes between one and two days, but can take weeks before some people are completely free of symptoms.

The symptoms are sufficiently severe to justify medical supervision. It is seldom dangerous to healthy adults, but it is dangerous to those in ill or weakened conditions, and can cause a miscarriage.

Staying the Course after Detox

Once detox is over, addiction remains. The body has often been permanently altered to favor and desire heroin: that cannot be undone. Much of the related physical damage to the circulatory system and the brain is also permanent. Success is therefore a matter of retraining and commitment. Most heroin addiction treatments involve a combination of personal counseling, behavioral modification therapy, group and family counseling, and in many cases a 12-step program.

These combine to offer an addict a structure on which to build new habits: a strong, stable structure of friends, family, daily rituals, and strongly conditioned motivational skills to help overcome the old habits of addiction and the inescapable physical urges. Like a full body brace, this network of support structures protects and reinforces the desire of the patient. If the patient isn’t committed, the support will seldom serve as a substitute.

The most commonly cited element in successful recovery without relapse is commitment to the 12-step program. Remaining involved in a 12-step can double the odds of success.

Finding a Good Program

All these aspects of heroin addiction therapy depend on finding a good detox program allied with good counseling programs. By finding medical attention and sound counseling services, an addict can hope to complete detox, be prepared for post-detox, have long-term counseling and be started in the vital 12-step program that would help them fend off a relapse.

Finding a great program is usually a matter of being given a sound referral. By going through a trusted doctor or clinic, or drawing on the resources provided by hospitals, police and prison referrals, or professional referral services, a patient can arrange for reliable, professional help to carry through the process of recovery.


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