What Is Heroin?
When people think of heroin, they often see it as “the” hard drug. However, heroin is one of the most misunderstood addictions. Heroin is usually found in powder form and is derived from morphine. Morphine is classified as an opioid and used as a legitimate pain reliever, often for anesthesia. However, heroin is concentrated and may also be laced with other chemicals. This only adds to the danger. There are generally three ways that people use heroin:
Regardless of the method, heroin quickly makes its way to the brain. Therefore, this drug can be very addictive. Another severe danger is the problems stemming from the added chemicals in the drug. Furthermore, a handful of issues can arise from sharing and reusing needles.
Effects of Heroin Addiction
When a person is addicted to heroin, the addiction overtakes their life. Due to its potency, the need for larger and larger doses becomes quickly apparent. For people addicted to heroin, there are many physical side effects, both long- and short-term. These can include:
- Severe itching
- Dry mouth
- Clouded mental function
- Collapsed veins
- Damaged nasal tissue
- Sexual dysfunction
- Mental disorders
These are just a few of the many side effects that can appear with heroin addiction. The severity of these side effects depends on the frequency of use, the amount taken, and the method by which the drug enters the body. Individuals using heroin are also prone to overdosing. This dire situation occurs when the drug causes the person’s breathing to slow or stop. The drug decreases the oxygen reaching the brain, causing hypoxia. If untreated, this can damage the brain and nervous system. Sometimes, the person enters a coma or suffers permanent brain damage.
Treatment for Heroin Addiction in Dallas, TX
Heroin treatment comes in many forms. If someone suffers an overdose, they should immediately be given a form of naloxone. It is often found under the NARCAN label and can be administered as a nasal spray. Naloxone works by quickly blocking the effects of heroin in the brain and binding opioid receptors. Clinics and paramedics carry naloxone as part of their emergency treatment kits.
For non-emergencies, including monitored detox in a rehabilitation facility, a person will often be weaned off heroin as withdrawal symptoms can be severe. In detox, the individual will be closely monitored by trained medical staff. They will often be given suboxone to decrease the severity of withdrawal and slowly reduce opioid dependence.
Once detox has been completed, the person will need to be in a rehab facility to deal with the psychological effects of having the drugs out of their system. The person will do this through individual and group therapy.
Initially, a medical professional will sit with the individual and discuss their specific case. Together, they will develop an action plan and show how long-term treatment will work. These sessions will allow the person to discuss their problems openly and specifically. Sessions will touch on personal trauma, social issues relating to drug use, and other topics that might relate to the situation.
The primary purpose of group therapy is to allow people to discuss their problems with others in the same situation. When you realize that you are not the only one with these particular issues, it may become more apparent that there is hope and that if others can keep to their recovery plans, you can.
Group therapy is conducted in smaller groups so that each person can speak about their case. The group will discuss their situations and provide their thoughts. This method allows people to feel accepted and leads individuals to develop new and healthy bonds with others in recovery.
One major piece of treatment is the concept of looking ahead to life after rehab. People recovering from heroin addiction must do as much as possible to avoid a relapse. Often, a heroin relapse can be deadlier than the initial addiction. Therefore, a person in rehab will discuss their future treatment with a medical professional. These sessions will lay out precisely what is necessary, how the individual will cope once they are back out in society, and methods that exist to prevent another relapse.
The person will be shown how to reconnect with friends and family, thus reestablishing their social support system. They will also be exposed to support groups and the fact that if they feel they need help, there will always be someone there to assist them.