People become addicted to drugs, whether they are street drugs or prescription drugs, every single day. One of the drugs that has long been among the most addictive is heroin. Heroin is a well-known street drug that millions of people struggle with an addiction to. However, many people do not know some of the basic facts about heroin, nor do they know some of the heroin rehab options available to them to help them overcome issues with heroin abuse and addiction.
Heroin's Recent History
Back in the 1990's and early 2000's, heroin abuse statistics started to decline quite a bit. The drug was expensive for one thing and seemed to be going "out of vogue" at the time, as people turned to other options of drug abuse. However, in recent years, opioids in general and heroin both have risen in popularity.
There are many potential reasons for this happening. One reason is that drug traffickers have flooded the market with a vast amount of heroin in recent years, making it easily accessible to street drug users. Another reason is that the market also happened to be flooded with cheaper versions of heroin. Manufacturers have found easier ways to create heroin and they are cutting it with different fillers, which unfortunately makes it cheaper for purchase and more accessible to drug users.
Another factor leading to the recent increase in heroin abuse is the fact that people have become more and more addicted to prescription opioid drugs in recent years. Prescription opioids are in the same drug class as heroin. As such, if a person finds themselves unable to get ahold of the prescription opioid of their choice, they may turn to heroin which is readily available on the streets. All of these factors together mean higher addiction rates and higher overdose rates.
When it comes to heroin abuse and addiction, many people do not fully understand the extent of the issue. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2016 around 948,000 people in the United States alone self-reported that they had abused heroin at some point in the past year. Of course, this could mean that there are many more that may have abused heroin but did not report it. Another statistic to keep in mind is the fact that most of the people who reported having started abusing heroin within the past year also admitted to having previously abused prescription opioids as well. This close link between heroin abuse and prescription opioid abuse further shows just how dangerous the prescription opioid crisis is.
The CDC has also found that in 2016, there were 15,500 people that died from a heroin overdose. This represents a major increase in heroin-related deaths. Between 2010 and 2016, heroin overdose deaths increased five times over. This exponential increase is highly disturbing and represents problematic trends in drug abuse and addiction.
How Heroin Affects the Body
While most people know that heroin is highly addictive, many do not know exactly how heroin affects the body when it enters the bloodstream. As previously mentioned, heroin is an opiate drug. This means that it originates from opium which is a substance that is naturally found in the seedpods of poppy plants.
When drugs based on this substance enter the body, the opioid compounds work their way through the body and to the brain. These compounds attach themselves to certain receptors throughout the body that are primarily responsible for pain signals. The receptors affected can also control hormone levels in the body as well as a person's overall sense of happiness and well-being.
What all of this means is that heroin has numerous effects on the body just by attaching to these receptors. Firstly, because the opiates in the heroin attach to the opioid receptors, pain signals will be blocked. This means that a person's pain will be relieved if not completely eliminated (if they are in pain) and will also mean that they will not be able to sense pain if they suffer an injury while under the influence.
In terms of hormones, opiates affect the dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a hormone that has numerous functions throughout the body. The most commonly recognized function is on a person's sense of happiness or contentment. Dopamine is one of the "feel-good" chemicals in the body in that it causes feelings of contentment in small amounts and euphoria in large amounts. Opioids cause this rush of feel-good emotions that triggers euphoria.
In addition to the mood effects, dopamine also is partially responsible for important tasks throughout the body including digestion, physical movement, heart and respiration rates, and more. As such, it has a strong physical and mental effect on a person.
When heroin enters the body, it causes a flood of dopamine to be released. When this happens, a person may feel euphoric. Their heart rate and respiration (breathing) rate also decrease significantly, making them feel extremely calm and relaxed. This is also one of the most dangerous effects of heroin on the body as the respiration and heart rate can be slowed so much that they stop entirely causing sudden death.
Heroin Rehab Options
When you struggle with an addiction to heroin, it can feel like you are trapped in a cycle that you cannot break. However, there are options available to help you deal with and overcome your addiction. Heroin rehab comes in many forms and offers many different treatment options and programs to help people struggling with heroin addiction.
* Inpatient and Outpatient Options
There are both inpatient and outpatient heroin treatment center options. Outpatient heroin rehab can be either standard or intensive in nature. Intensive outpatient treatment involves spending several hours a day, five days a week in treatment. This type of addiction recovery program is highly structured and can help keep a recovering heroin addict on track to make a full recovery. Standard outpatient treatment only involves a commitment of about a few hours a week and is much more flexible than intensive outpatient treatment.
The most highly structured treatment option for heroin addiction is inpatient rehab. When a person goes to inpatient rehab, they will be spending the majority of their time focused on treatment and recovery. Inpatient rehab means that they will be staying in the treatment center 24/7 and that they will have no access to heroin or similar drugs. This separation from temptation improves the success rates of people that go through inpatient rehab for heroin addiction.
* Medication-Assisted Treatment
While choosing between inpatient and outpatient treatment is important, you will need to consider other factors when choosing the right heroin rehab center to help you overcome your addiction. One of the options that some treatment centers offer is medication-assisted treatment.
This form of addiction treatment is overseen by a medical doctor and/or nurse practitioner. When a person first enters rehab and begins to go through detox, they will be administered medications that will help to make the process of coming off heroin easier. These medications, such as suboxone and methadone, help to reduce withdrawal symptoms, shorten the detox process, and can even be used longer term to help with cravings and to prevent relapse.
Oftentimes, it is the difficulty of the detox process and the continued cravings that lead a person to relapse after heroin addiction treatment. Prescription medications are a way to counteract that, improving a recovering addict's potential for successful recovery.
* Different Types of Therapy
In addition to medication-assisted heroin addiction treatment, these rehab centers will also offer different types of therapy to help a person deal with and overcome their addiction. Standard therapy options include cognitive-behavioral therapy (in individual sessions) as well as group therapy sessions. Cognitive-behavioral therapy works on dealing with the connections between thought patterns and behavioral patterns. In essence, a person will start to identify negative patterns of thoughts and then, the behaviors that correlate with them. Once a person identifies those issues, they can take steps to change them.
Group therapy is a way to relate to other people struggling with addiction and learn different ways and ideas for coping with their addiction issues. Working with others in recovery is an important part of the process.
There are also other therapy options that treatment centers offer. Art therapy is one such option. In art therapy, people with addictions are able to create art through drawing, painting, sculpture, or other means. They may be doing a guided exercise to express certain emotions or may be able to create whatever they feel like making at the time. Then, the therapist will help participants examine their work and find the emotions and meaning in it.
Yoga, acupuncture, recreational therapy, music therapy, equine therapy, and other options are also available. Some treatment centers also offer spiritual therapy that is usually lead by a member of the clergy so that those patients that hold religious beliefs can benefit from their assistance as well. The idea is to find the right combination of therapies that will best benefit each individual with a heroin addiction.
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