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Heroin Addiction treatment at La Jolla Recovery

Many new heroin users turn to heroin after opioid painkillers become expensive or difficult to acquire. Some people are looking for another way to escape pain or seek pleasure. 

If you or someone you know is using opioids, you should always carry naloxone, a medication that can safely reverse the toxic effects of an overdose.

Heroin is a highly addictive drug: Almost 25% of people who use heroin become dependent on it. People who are addicted to opioid painkillers are almost 50 times more likely than others to become addicts People who are addicted to cocaine are 16 times more likely to become addicted to heroin. Clients who are addicted to marijuana are 3 times more likely to become addicted to heroin.  Clients who are addicted to alcohol are twice as likely to become addicted to heroin.

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Signs of Heroin Use

If someone you know is exhibiting any of the following signs, it could signal heroin use:

  • mood swings
  • weight loss/gain
  • slow breathing
  • small pupils
  • needle marks in arm or body parts
  • missing spoon, pills, belts or shoe laces and
  • sleepiness.

People who use heroin often report feeling sick when they’re not consuming. Quitting heroin is not necessarily only about willpower.  Heroin withdrawal symptoms follow a general timeline, lasting about five to 10 days after the last dose, but symptoms will be most acute around the third day. Such symptoms include cramps, nausea, insomnia, watery eyes and runny nose, anxiety and tension.

Many people find it very difficult to get through the withdrawal cycle without a medical professional guiding them through. The pain and emotions may be intense enough to make people act out of character or put them at risk of self-harm or even suicide. Many people find it difficult to escape the cycle of using heroin to get rid of withdrawal symptoms. 

Difference Between Heroin, Xanax and Meth

Heroin is an opioid drug and one –if not the most- lethal illegal drug in the world. It works by hijacking opioid, dopamine and GABA neurotransmitter receptors in the brain. These chemical messengers modulate pain and regulate pleasure, hunger and wakefulness. Opiates are used as sedatives and painkillers.

Meth or methamphetamines are stimulants. They cause a surge in the production of dopamine, triggering intense euphoria. The high is similar to that of crack cocaine but lasts much longer.

Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam. It is a powerful benzodiazepine that is more than ten times stronger than the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine in the United States, diazepam. The drug is a sedative-hypnotic that causes the activation of GABA, the neurotransmitter responsible for inhibiting the central nervous system, causing relaxation and sleep. 

Heroin Addiction Potential

While endorphins are released naturally during exercise in order to minimize discomfort and encourage us to continue the healthy behavior. Opiate drugs emulate these types of neurotransmitters and cause analgesia, stress relief and euphoria. Heroin also causes stimulation of the neurotransmitter GABA, which has sedative and anxiolytic effects.

Discontinuing heroin after a prolonged period of use causes the brain to rely on these synthetic opioids instead of creating and releasing its own.

People with mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are at a significantly increased risk of becoming addicted to the drug,

Behavioral Risk Factors

Sensation-seeking is thought to be an important factor in the development of an addiction among those who have previously been prescribed an opiate painkiller, as well as impulsivity.   In co-occurring disorders, the symptoms of drug use and the mental health problem tend to overlap. It is important that the addict identifies any underlying mental health conditions when they seek treatment. Treating the drug problem without addressing the other issues triggers relapse. Relapse is perceived as a failure in the eyes of the sufferer, which worsens the problem.

Heroin is so addictive is because it the brain chemistry. It specifically has an impact on the way the brain’s motivation and reward system works. The brain uses neurotransmitters to signal when an experience causes happiness. It uses a different set of neurotransmitters to signal that we should repeat the experience.

Using opiates causes the release of both sets of neurotransmitters, as well as other ones designed to help us feel pain relief and induce relaxation and sleep.  The brain tries to adapt to the extreme changes made by the substance. 

When injected, heroin binds to receptors in the brain within seconds. When taken via any other route, the feelings are still usually felt roughly within half an hour. The high starts with an intense feeling of euphoria and well-being, but is usually accompanied by a feeling of heaviness, a dry mouth, itchiness and high temperature. 

After this initial high, the user may nod off. This may last for for up to one hour. For several hours after administration, the user often feels drowsy. Heroin users usually require a dose every 5 to 12 hours.

Heroin Abuse and Opiate Painkillers

In The U.S.A., heroin initiation is about twenty times more likely in someone who has previously been prescribed opiate painkillers than those who haven’t. 

One study found that in a study of young people who injected heroin, 86% had previously used opiate painkillers non-medically. Over the last decade, the availability of opiates such as fentanyl and oxycodone has rapidly increased. 

Heroin Treatment

Heroin treatment begins with detoxification.  An addiction  specialist at La Jolla Recovery can help a heroin user figure out what combination of treatments will work out, based on the client´s lifestyle, medical history, and current use. In all initial appointments, it is important for clients to talk sincerely about their heroin use.  The first appointment at La Jolla Recovery includes: a review of the client´s drug use and medical history, a physical exam and a saliva/blood/urine test.

Eventually, the client and clinician will come up with a treatment. Some clients may be asked to commit to the recovery plan.

The first few heroin-free days are usually the most difficult part of the recovery process. But working with a therapist and medical health professional can diminish some of the mental and physical symptoms of withdrawal from heroin. 

Inpatient rehabilitation is the recommended course of treatment. Some people find they have gotten stuck in a rut and a change of location is required to change their habits. Also, an individual is far more likely to have access to a drug dealer when they are in a familiar environment.

At a residential rehab center, there is access to care all day long and a full team of experts at the client’s disposal. It can be enlightening for some people to experience a structured lifestyle like the one in rehab. The responsibility of being on time, attending appointments and being organized are also bypassed in inpatient settings. Even with challenges such as pregnancy, we are able to provide support for any stage of life. We like to play an active role in our community when it comes to heroin addiction.

La Jolla Recovery is a state of the art rehab center. In this setting, the service user can build a trusting relationship with our medical staff that is conducive to the level of honesty necessary for treating addiction. Any underlying mental health issues or co-occurring disorders must be pinpointed and treated.

Continued Individual Therapy

Stopping heroin use is a great first step, albeit a longer journey lies ahead. Continuing individual therapy can help people work through long-term dual diagnosis issues, control emotions, and process the fluctuations of a heroin-free life. Continued treatment may include medication-assisted treatment (MAT), mental health counseling, and learning coping strategies like contingency management and behavioral therapy.

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If you or a loved one is going through the challenges of heroin addiction, La Jolla Recovery can provide the ideal plan for a new beginning. Contact us today for more information on our comprehensive heroin rehab program.