Heroin/Opiates Addiction Treatment Program

( Other Forms: Opium, Codeine, Morphine, OxyContin, Vicodin, Loratab, Diludid, Percodan, Darvon, Demerol, Talwin, Laam and others. ) Heroin

Perhaps you, or someone you know, has tried to break the ravaging cycle of heroin addiction and failed to do so. Despite the best of intentions, well-meaning people, treatment programs, and will power may not have been enough to break the power of heroin addiction. Do not despair. Heroin Addiction is a physical disease, not a mental or moral problem, and it is medically treatable. Solutions For Recovery’s unique medical Heroin Addiction Treatment Program, developed and supervised by physicians specializing in addiction medicine, helps patients addicted to heroin lose their physical and mental craving for the drug. We believe our researched medical approach gives the heroin addicted patient a firm foundation for achieving comfortable abstinence by creating a negative response to heroin and encouraging the development of a natural reward system once again. The program at Solutions For Recovery helps restore to the addicted patient their sense of self-esteem and feeling of dignity in an unparalleled atmosphere of understanding and respect.

Heroin Addiction Treatment Program Highlights

  • Proven by Medical Research
  • Inpatient Stay (length varies)
  • Medical Detoxification
  • Effective Counter-conditioning Treatment
  • Caring and Compassionate Staff
  • Counseling, Continuing Support & Aftercare

What is Heroin?

Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive drug. It is both the most abused and the most rapidly acting of the opiates. Heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of certain varieties of poppy plants. It is typically sold as a white or brownish powder or as the black sticky substance known on the streets as “black tar heroin.” Although purer heroin is becoming more common, most street heroin is “cut” with other drugs or with substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk, or quinine. Street heroin 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. Heroin also poses special problems because of the transmission of HIV and other diseases that can occur from sharing needles or other injection equipment.

Treatment

With regular heroin use, tolerance develops. This means the abuser must use more heroin to achieve the same intensity of effect. As higher doses are used over time, physical dependence and addiction develop. With physical dependence, the body has adapted to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms may occur if use is reduced or stopped.

There is a broad range of treatment options for heroin addiction, including medications as well as behavioral therapies. At Solutions For Recovery, we have learned that when medication treatment is integrated with other supportive services, patients are often able to stop heroin (or other opiate) use and return to more stable and productive lives.

Buprenorphine is a recent addition to the array of medications now available for treating addiction to heroin and other opiates.

There are also many effective behavioral treatments available for heroin addiction. These can include residential and outpatient approaches or a combination of both. An example would be the cognitive-behavioral intervention that is designed to help modify the patient’s thinking, expectancies, and behaviors and to increase skills in coping with various life stressors.

Detoxification

The primary objective of detox is to relieve withdrawal symptoms while patients adjust to a drug-free state. Not in itself a treatment for addiction, detoxification is a useful step only when it leads into long-term treatment that is either drug-free (residential or outpatient) or uses medications as part of the treatment. The best-documented drug-free treatments are the therapeutic community residential programs lasting at least 3 to 6 months.

Heroin use drives out the neurotransmitter endorphin; when this happens and heroin isn’t used, withdrawal symptoms set in, those include insomnia, muscle ache, nausea, chills, sweating, gooseflesh, vomiting and diarrhea. Addiction periods (runs) usually last four to six months, often ceasing because the addict is arrested or enters a drug treatment program. Periods of abstinence usually last no longer than a few weeks or months, and relapse is usually precipitated by physical or mental stress. Once addicted to intravenous use of heroin, a staggering 70 to 80 percent of users continue intermittent use for many years or a lifetime.

Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose and subside after about a week. Sudden withdrawal by heavily dependent users who are in poor health is occasionally fatal, although heroin withdrawal is considered less dangerous than alcohol or barbiturate withdrawal.

Heroin abuse is associated with serious health conditions, including fatal overdose, spontaneous abortion, collapsed veins, and, particularly in users who inject the drug, infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.

Short and Long Term Effects of Heroin Addiction

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 (“rush”) accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth, and heavy extremities. Following this initial euphoria, the user goes “on the nod,” an alternately wakeful and drowsy state. Mental functioning becomes clouded due to the depression of the central nervous system.

Long-term effects of heroin appear after repeated use for some period of time. Chronic users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, cellulitis, and liver disease. Pulmonary complications, including various types of pneumonia, may result from the poor health condition of the abuser, as well as from heroin’s depressing effects on respiration.

In addition to the effects of the drug itself, street heroin may have additives that do not readily dissolve and result in clogging the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain. This can cause infection or even death of small patches of cells in vital organs. The Drug Abuse Warning Network* lists heroin/morphine among the three most frequently mentioned drugs reported in drug-related death cases in 2001. Nationwide, heroin emergency department mentions were statistically unchanged from 2001 to 2002, but have increased 35 percent since 1995.

What are the opioid analogs and their dangers?

Drug analogs are chemical compounds that are similar to other drugs in their effects but differ slightly in their chemical structure. Some analogs are produced by pharmaceutical companies for legitimate medical reasons. Other analogs, sometimes referred to as “designer” drugs, can be produced in illegal laboratories and are often more dangerous and potent than the original drug.

Two of the most commonly known opioid analogs are fentanyl and meperidine (marketed under the brand name Demerol, for example). Fentanyl was introduced in 1968 by a Belgian pharmaceutical company as a synthetic narcotic to be used as an analgesic in surgical procedures because of its minimal effects on the heart. Fentanyl is particularly dangerous because it is 50 times more potent than heroin and can rapidly stop respiration. This is not a problem during surgical procedures because machines are used to help patients breathe. On the street, however, users have been found dead with the needle used to inject the drug still in their arms.

Vicodin

Vicodin has a high psychological dependence and a high physical dependence. The chronic use of Vicodin can cause you to build up a tolerance for the drug. To get the same effect as the first time you took Vicodin, you would have to take more and more pills; people who abuse the drug must take large numbers of pills as their tolerance grows. It has been documented that some long-term Vicodin abusers take up to 100+ pills per day.

Another danger of abusing Vicodin is that it contains Acetaminophen (tylenol) of which long-term use or abuse can cause liver damage or failure. Symptoms of withdrawal include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps, involuntary leg movements, watery eyes, runny nose, loss of appetite, irritability, panic, nausea, chills, and sweating. Taking a large single dose of an opioid could cause severe respiratory depression that can lead to death. Effects of an overdose are clammy skin, convulsions, slow and shallow breathing, coma, and possible death.

Some side effects of using this drug are fast or slow heartbeat, trouble breathing, swelling of the face, hives, skin rash, itching, hallucinations, changes in behavior, severe confusion or tiredness, yellowing of the skin or eyes, drowsiness, dizziness or weakness, dry mouth, nausea or vomiting, constipation, headache, and blurred vision.

Vicodin and other hydrocodone drugs can cause psychic and physical dependence after several weeks of continued use and mild physical dependence after only a few days. Also, Vicodin abuse has recently been linked to causing deafness in some long-term abusers.