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Heroin Overview

Heroin (diacetylmorphine) is derived from the morphine alkaloid found in opium and is roughly 2-3 times more potent. A highly addictive drug, heroin exhibits euphoric ("rush"), anxiolytic and analgesic central nervous system properties. Heroin is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 and as such has no acceptable medical use in the United States. Pure heroin is a white powder with a bitter taste. Most illicit heroin is sold as a white or brownish powder and is usually "cut" with other drugs or with substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk, or quinine. It can also be cut with strychnine or other poisons. Because heroin abusers do not know the actual strength of the drug or its true contents, they are at risk of overdose or death. Another form of heroin known as "black tar" may be sticky, like roofing tar, or hard, like coal. Its color may vary from dark brown to black.

Heroin Abuse Treatment

Heroin is metabolized to morphine and other metabolites which bind to opioid receptors in the brain. The short-term effects of heroin abuse appear soon after a single dose and disappear in a few hours. After an injection of heroin, the user reports feeling a surge of euphoria (the "rush") accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth, and heavy extremities. Following this initial euphoria, the user experiences an alternately wakeful and drowsy state. Mental functioning becomes clouded due to the depression of the central nervous system. Other effects that heroin may have on users include respiratory depression, constricted ("pinpoint") pupils and nausea. Effects of heroin overdose may also include slow and shallow breathing, hypotension, muscle spasms, convulsions, coma, and possible death.

Intravenous heroin use is complicated by other issues such as the sharing of contaminated needles, the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and toxic reactions to heroin impurities. Other medical complications that may arise due to heroin use include collapsed veins, abscesses, spontaneous abortion, and endocarditis (inflammation of the heart lining and valves). Pneumonia may result from the poor health condition of the abuser, as well as from heroin's depressing effects on respiration. Heroin addiction can remove an otherwise healthy and contributing member from society, and may lead to severe disability and eventually death.

Heroin Signs of Abuse

People who use or abuse heroin will eventually display various signs and symptoms of their drug habit; still, not all heroin abusers will be the same, as some use heroin differently and in different quantities. It all depends on the level of dependency, which can easily be life-threatening if not medically supervised. Heroin withdrawal is one of the worst fears of any individual suffering from addiction making it the hardest drug to quit in the world. Here are some signs of heroin abuse:

  • Changes in personality or behavior
  • Runny nose
  • Wearing long shirts and pants even during warm weather
  • Disorientated thinking or movements
  • Track marks on arms or legs
  • Constant Lying
  • Increased sleeping
  • Slurred speech
  • Weight loss
  • Scabs or bruises due to picking at the skin

Effects of Heroin Abuse

Major health problems from heroin include miscarriages, heart infections, and death from overdose. People who inject the drug also risk getting infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. Heroin is metabolized to morphine and other metabolites which bind to opioid receptors in the brain. The short-term effects of heroin abuse appear soon after a single dose and disappear in a few hours. After an injection of heroin, the user reports feeling a surge of euphoria (the "rush") accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth, and heavy extremities. Following this initial euphoria, the user experiences an alternately wakeful and drowsy state. Mental functioning becomes clouded due to the depression of the central nervous system. Other effects that heroin may have on users include respiratory depression, constricted ("pinpoint") pupils and nausea. Effects of heroin overdose may also include slow and shallow breathing, hypotension, muscle spasms, convulsions, coma, and possible death. Intravenous heroin use is complicated by other issues such as the sharing of contaminated needles, the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and toxic reactions to heroin impurities. Other medical complications that may arise due to heroin use include collapsed veins, abscesses, spontaneous abortion, and endocarditis (inflammation of the heart lining and valves). Pneumonia may result from the poor health condition of the abuser, as well as from heroin's depressing effects on respiration. Heroin addiction can remove an otherwise healthy and contributing member from society, and may lead to severe disability and eventually death.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal from Heroin addiction may lead to harsh symptoms and uncomfortable effects on the body, such as:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Chills
  • Anxiety
  • Inability to Sleep
  • Weakness
  • Depression

Heroin Abuse Statistics

Heroin addiction is a treatable condition, but its use is increasing in recent years. According to the 2011 Survey on Drug Use and Health by the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, it is estimated that 607,000 persons per year used heroin in the years 2009-2011, compared to 374,000 during 2002-2005. Similarly, the estimated number of new heroin users increased from 109,000 per year during 2002-2005 to 169,000 per year during 2009-2011. The increase in initiation is evident among young adults aged 18 to 25 and adults aged 26 and older. There were 28,000 youth initiates per year in 2002-2005 and 27,000 in 2009-2011. Young adult initiates increased from 53,000 per year to 89,000 per year, and older adult initiates increased from 28,000 to 54,000 for these combined time periods. Past year use estimates for 2002-2005 and 2009-2011 showed the same pattern: for youths, estimates were 43,000 and 39,000; for young adults, the estimates were 124,000 and 208,000; and for older adults, the estimates were 207,000 and 361,000. Monitoring the Future (MTF) data indicates an increase for young adults aged 19 to 28 and a decrease for 10th graders in rates of past year heroin use between 2002 and 2011. MTF data did not indicate any changes among 8th and 12th graders between these 2 years. Patients with heroin addiction should seek advice from health care providers who can guide them with the most appropriate and safe treatment. Combined behavioral and medical therapies may allow the patient to integrate back into mainstream society and lead a positive and productive life.

References
http://www.drugabuse.gov
http://www.fda.gov/Drugs
http://www.usa.gov/
http://www.justice.gov/dea/druginfo/factsheets.shtml
http://druginfo.nlm.nih.gov/drugportal/drugportal.jsp

Individualized detox protocols are carefully monitored and tailored to address detox symptoms. As part of our holistic approach, our detox incorporates traditional detox with biofeedback sessions.

Clients being treated in our residential program reside with us for the specific amount of days established in their individualized addiction treatment program.

Our treatment model is rooted in the belief that it is our utmost responsibility to do whatever we can to prepare our clients for life outside of treatment.

In addition to our traditional therapeutic treatments we offer holistic and alternative therapies such as: yoga, chiropractic care, medical massage, personal training and art therapy.