Into Action Recovery Centers works with addicts to offer high-quality, individualized treatment for heroin addiction. Beginning with our admissions screening, we will work with you to develop an effective addiction treatment program. Our compassionate, professional staff is supported by a range of treatment options, from long-term residential programs to outpatient treatment and support programs.
What is Heroin?
Heroin is an opioid made from morphine, a natural chemical that is extracted from the seed pod of opium poppy plants. As a drug, heroin can be injected, sniffed, snorted, or smoked. Like man-made prescription opioids such as OxyContin and Vicodin, heroin binds to opioid receptors in the brain and quickly delivers a short-lived surge of pleasure.
Heroin is experiencing increased usage due to the popularity of club drugs such as Ecstacy and the availability of smokeable and snortable forms of the drug. The drug is also known as Big H, Black Tar, Brown Sugar, Dope, and Junk. Its increased accessibility, ease of usage, and social acceptance of club drugs have resulted in a new generation of heroin addicts. According to the CDC, in 2018, about 15,000 people died from a heroin overdose in the U.S.
Short and Long Term Effects of Heroin Use
Heroin is highly addictive, and regular users can quickly develop a tolerance that requires them to increase the amount of the drug they take. Heroin use can result in a range of short and long-term effects on the body. Initially, users may experience:
- dry mouth
- warm flushing of the skin
- heavy feeling in the arms and legs
- nausea and vomiting
- severe itching
- clouded mental functioning
- going “on the nod,” a back-and-forth state of being conscious and semiconscious
When heroin use is ongoing, the side effects can include:
- collapsed veins for people who inject the drug
- damaged tissue inside the nose for people who sniff or snort the drug
- infection of the heart lining and valves
- abscesses (swollen tissue filled with pus)
- constipation and stomach cramping
- liver and kidney disease
- lung complications, including pneumonia
- mental disorders such as depression and antisocial personality disorder
- sexual dysfunction for men
- irregular menstrual cycles for women
Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
Stopping heroin abruptly often leads to severe withdrawal symptoms. That’s why we recommend that individuals who are trying to quit heroin seek out a professional detox program to help them manage their withdrawal process. Withdrawal side effects include:
- severe muscle and bone pain
- sleep problems
- diarrhea and vomiting
- cold flashes with goosebumps
- uncontrollable leg movements
- severe heroin cravings
While uncomfortable, withdrawal is typically tolerable when under the care of a medical professional. Again, we strongly discourage individuals from undergoing the withdrawal process on their own.
Heroin Overdose and Treatment
When someone takes an overdose of heroin, their breathing can slow or even stop. As a result of this change in their breathing, the individual may deprive their brain of oxygen, causing hypoxia. This condition affects the nervous system, resulting in a coma or even permanent brain damage. Death is also possible with a heroin overdose.
Should a person overdose on heroin, the prescription medicine naloxone can be used as a treatment. It is available as an injectable or a nasal spray. To be effective, naloxone must be given to the person quickly. Sometimes, the individual may even need more than one dose. Naloxone binds to the same opioid receptors in the brain as heroin, blocking how heroin and other opioids affect the body. Even if someone who has overdosed responds to naloxone, they should still be taken to an emergency department or to see a doctor immediately in case they require additional medical attention.
Heroin Addiction Treatment Programs
There are a variety of treatments for heroin addiction, including behavioral counseling and medication-assisted treatment (MAT), that have been proven to be helpful, particularly when used for a pre-determined period of time.
Detoxing from heroin is only the first stage of treatment. After the detox process is complete, the individual will need to decide between inpatient or outpatient care. During this phase, the second component of heroin treatment begins behavioral therapy, particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Behavioral therapy works to help the individual change their thinking and behaviors, especially those that are related to drug use while increasing their coping skills to better manage stress and relapse triggers.
For some individuals, medication-assisted treatment can be especially helpful in managing their withdrawal symptoms when they are first trying to stop using heroin. These medications work on the same opioid receptors in the brain but do not cause the same harmful effects that heroin can. There are three types of effective medications:
- Agonists, like methadone, that activate opioid receptors
- Partial agonists that activate opioid receptors but with less of a response, such as buprenorphine
- Antagonists, such as naltrexone, that block opioid receptors so they don’t create a reward effect at all
The final component of effective heroin treatment is ongoing aftercare and follow-ups, including incorporating peer support groups as part of an ongoing recovery process. This plays a large role in the effectiveness of a person’s treatment and their ability to maintain their sobriety long-term. Research shows that the vast majority of people who relapse do so within the first year. Surrounding themselves with a strong support system can help them stave off relapse.
At Into Action Recovery Centers, we are sensitive to the different paths that can lead to heroin addiction, and we work with each addicted person to develop a custom treatment program to provide them with the best opportunity for success.
Building on a belief that spiritual development and healthy recovery can bring inner peace to clients overcoming addiction and substance abuse, Into Action Recovery takes a people-centered approach to addiction treatment. Our center is conveniently located in Houston, Texas, and is led by experienced master’s level counselors and medical professionals who specialize in personalized treatment for drug and alcohol abuse.
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We are in-network with most insurance companies.
Please call us to see if your HMO, PPO, or EPO insurance plan will cover your treatment. Or ask us about our affordable self-pay plans.