In the past, heroin was used as a prescription painkiller, but it was made illegal in the 20th century because of its highly addictive nature. Today, it’s defined as a Schedule 1 drug. In 2015, there were more than 13,000 deaths involving heroin. From 2002 to 2015, deaths attributed to the drug increased 6-fold. With today’s ongoing opioid crisis, a growing number of people have started to use the drug.
Heroin is an opioid that is made from morphine, a naturally occurring substance that can be found in opium poppy plant seeds. The drug can be injected, snorted, or smoked, and those who are highly addicted to heroin often mix it with crack cocaine to achieve an even stronger (and more dangerous) high.
Like all harmful substances, heroin impacts the major organs in the body, especially the brain. Long-term heroin use can lead to irreversible damage to various parts of the brain. If someone you know is addicted to heroin , it’s important to understand the health implications of the drug, as well as the best way to go about finding treatment.
Signs of Heroin Use
Someone who is addicted to heroin has a physical dependence on the drug. Because of this, the body exhibits all sorts of symptoms that are telltale signs that your loved one is addicted. The most common signs of heroin addiction include:
- Mood swings
- Weight loss
- Lack of personal hygiene
As with most addicts, those addicted to heroin often lie about their drug use and are in denial that they are addicted to the substance. If you find any heroin-related paraphernalia, like a white powdery substance or needles, burned spoons, or a glass pipe, chances are your loved one is addicted to heroin and needs immediate assistance.
Effects of Heroin Addiction
The implications of heroin use and abuse vary, from person to person, depending on how much heroin is used, how often it’s used, and other drugs that may also be taken. Short-term side effects include mood swings, loss of appetite, dry mouth, flushing of the skin, and slowed breathing. Prolonged use of heroin causes symptoms to become much more severe.
Long-term heroin use can cause skin disease, liver disease, and even kidney disease. Misuse or sharing of needles can lead to Hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV—health conditions that can be fatal if left untreated. Over-injection of the drug can cause the veins to collapse or become extremely scarred. Most addicts start by injecting in their arms but, over time, must use other areas of the body to successfully inject the drug.
Can Heroin Cause Brain Damage ?
While heroin use impacts other areas of the body, it most notably impacts the brain. When used, heroin enters the brain very quickly and binds to the opioid receptors. These receptors control heart rate, breathing, and sleeping, as well as feelings including pain and pleasure.
Heroin also impacts the risk/reward system of the brain, which, in turn, causes a decrease in serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters that are produced. Disrupted levels of neurotransmitters can cause mood swings, depression, and anxiety.
Since heroin causes the brain to artificially release neurotransmitters, addicts experience withdrawal symptoms if they’re unable to take heroin when the brain needs it. Withdrawal causes flu-like symptoms, including chills, body aches, fatigue, nausea, and even depression.
According to studies, heroin use causes brain damage that’s often only seen in Alzheimer’s patients . Because heroin changes the natural structure of the brain’s reward system, the brain’s function is impacted.
Heroin addicts also risk further brain damage because of the lack of oxygen. The drug causes depressed breathing, which means less blood is moved throughout the body. A lack of oxygen in the brain can cause brain damage, as well as damage to other vital organs.
Studies continue to be conducted to better understand the long-term effects of heroin addiction. While heroin abuse does damage the brain, some of this damage may be reversible, but, at the least, the damage and its impact can be managed. In fact, most people who overcome heroin addiction are able to lead full and healthy lives.
To prevent serious brain damage, if you or someone you know suffers from heroin addiction, seek help immediately. Finding a local detox center is the best chance for you or a loved one to break free from the chains of addiction.
How to Help Someone with Heroin Addiction
If someone you know is battling an addiction to heroin, it’s hard to know how to address the issue, let alone help your loved one. More often than not, addicts want to stop using but don’t know how to stop. More importantly, many don’t want to experience withdrawal symptoms.
One of the best things you can do is to learn everything you can about heroin so that you can better understand what your loved one is facing. Understand the heroin health effects, as well as how you can help your loved one get the treatment they need.
Addiction is an uphill and life-long battle, but, with the right support system, the disease can be overcome.
The next step is to look for detox centers in the area. A reputable detox facility is the safest place for your loved one to be during their battle to end addiction and reach sobriety. Encouraging your loved one to quit cold turkey may seem like a good idea, but most addicts who quit a hard drug like heroin on their own often relapse. It’s best to seek professional help from a detox facility that is experienced in helping those with heroin addiction.
Since the road to recovery can be long and sometimes bumpy, it’s crucial that you’re available to support your friends or family members throughout their journeys. Give them the courage and confidence that they need to get through this rough patch. Be a listening ear on those tough days when the voices of addiction creep back into the picture.
Knowing that someone you love is dealing with addiction is tough, but getting them to go to treatment for detox is even harder. Some families stage an intervention, while others wait until their loved ones are ready to put an end to their addictions. Since it’s hard to force people to want to end their bad habits, the best thing you can do is to talk to your loved ones, express your concern, and open doors that allow them to get the treatment they need.
Addiction Doesn’t Have to Control Your Life
There are dozens of South Florida detox centers, but, if you’re looking for a facility that will help you or a loved one regain control and get on the road to recovery, look no further than South Florida Detox Center.
We offer an outpatient detox program as well as Suboxone treatment that minimizes the withdrawal symptoms that your loved one will experience. We work with each of our clients and their doctors to ensure the best detox program is used.
Don’t go another day under the influence of heroin addiction. With the right detox treatment and support system, you, too, can be on the road to recovery. Call us today at (561) 337-6842 to schedule a low-cost visit.
Interventions are a drastic, but often necessary, step needed to convince drug or alcohol abusers to seek help for their problem. To succeed, family members or friends need to carefully plan the intervention and solicit the help of a doctor or professional alcohol or drug counselor.
What Is an Intervention?
An intervention seeks to use peer pressure in a positive manner to push addicts to admit to their problem and seek help. For example, an intervention in Florida might involve family members confronting an addict about his or her problem and urging the addict to seek treatment in South Florida detox centers.
In an intervention, family and friends who want to convince an addict to seek help will gather together and confront him or her unannounced. During the intervention, each member of the group confronting the addict will explain how his or her relationship with the addict has been harmed by the addict’s drug or alcohol problem. Participants will plead with the addict to seek help and list consequences of not seeking treatment.
Many interventions are overseen by mental health professionals, who direct the intervention, keep participants on topic, and offer options for treatment to the addict.
Interventions are emotionally stressful and draining, as confronting a friend or family member about addiction is always hard. Making ultimatums and outlining consequences for an addict’s behavior are also very stressful for participants.
How to Stage an Intervention
Because of the high stakes involved with an intervention, it’s important to do everything you can to ensure that an intervention you stage for a loved one is a success . Here are some best practices for staging an intervention:
- Enlist professional help – Trained addiction counselors understand interventions and know the best approaches to take in convincing addicts to seek treatment. Friends and family members of addicts can often be exasperated by their loved one’s behavior and may go too far in an intervention. A trained addiction counselor will work with participants in the intervention ahead of time to ensure that they’re saying the right things to convince the addict to seek treatment.
Trained counselors can also provide advice for intervention participants regarding other issues the addict may have. For example, it’s important to carefully craft an intervention if an addict has a history of suicidal behavior, violence toward others, or is taking legitimate medication for mental health issues.
- Assemble an intervention team – Typically, the intervention team will consist of family, friends, and co-workers of the addict who will confront him or her during the intervention. The people on the intervention team should know the addict well and have a vested interest in seeing the addict seek recovery. People who are currently struggling with substance abuse issues of their own should likely not be on the intervention team, but addicts who have successfully overcome similar issues can be an asset.
- Get educated – The members of the intervention team should be knowledgeable about the extent of the addict’s problem. Sharing information among yourselves is important to ensure that all members of the team speak with one voice on the issue. Members of the intervention team should also read reliable journals and publications about abuse, addiction, and recovery so that they have a better understanding of the addict’s situation. Learning about south Florida detox centers and rehabs can also help.
- Develop a plan – You and the members of the intervention team should plan the event. Start with setting a place and time for the intervention. Also, collaborate with one another to determine what each member of the team will say to the addict.
- Write impact statements – Members of the intervention team should develop personal statements outlining how the addict’s behavior has impacted their lives and their relationships with the addict. Written statements will give the addict something to review after the intervention and can really make the message that participants in the intervention are trying to deliver hit home. Impact statements need to be grounded in love, but also provide an honest appraisal of how the addict’s problem is harming his or her life and the lives of others. Avoid personal attacks in these statements.
- Rehearse – Members of the intervention team should rehearse their statements to the addict before the intervention. Rehearsal helps eliminate problematic language in participants’ statements and helps ensure a singleness of purpose among the members of the intervention team. Rehearsal also helps ensure that statements are not long-winded and that everyone gets the opportunity to speak.
- Prepare emotionally – Interventions are emotionally fraught. Participants in an intervention need to be prepared for pushback from the addict. They also need to be mindful of their own feelings and avoid the desire to go on the offensive against the addict. It’s perfectly natural to have feelings of frustration with an addict, but the intervention’s purpose is to help the addict, not to give you the opportunity to vent.
- Manage your expectations – Not every addict will have a “road to Damascus” conversion as a result of an intervention. For some, the decision to seek help may come more slowly. Be realistic about your expectations, and be ready to continue to have conversations with the addict after the intervention.
- Following up – Your efforts to help an addict don’t end with the conclusion of an intervention. It’s important to follow up. If the addict expresses a desire to seek help, connecting him or her with a south Florida detox center or another rehab program is important. Providing continued encouragement and support is also helpful.
If the addict does not the intervention, it also falls on you and the other participants to enforce any ultimatums made in the intervention, such as withdrawing financial support, revoking parental rights, and limiting contact. It’s tough, but sometimes these actions are the only way to prompt an addict to seek the help that he or she desperately needs.
Drug addiction is a major problem in our society, harming addicts and those who love them. Opiate addiction has become an increasingly thorny public health challenge as prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse have spiked in recent years. Learning the physical signs of heroin abuse and prescription opiate abuse can help family and friends of possible addicts begin the process of helping their loved one seek help.
While interventions are emotionally charged, they do have a strong track record of success in convincing drug and alcohol addicts to seek help. An intervention’s chance of success is also bolstered by having a trained professional drug or alcohol counselor’s participation.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence says interventions involving a trained professional have a 90 percent rate of success in convincing an addict to seek treatment. Even if an intervention does not immediately convince an addict to seek help, it can be a determining factor in the addict seeking treatment later.
The key is to convince addicts that they want and need treatment. Voluntary addiction treatment typically has better outcomes and a longer-term success rate than treatment mandated by the courts or other forms of compulsory treatment.
South Florida Detox Center operates outpatient detoxification facilities in Broward, Palm Beach, and in the Treasure Coast area. The practice focuses on heroin and opiate detox for Florida residents. Physicians with South Florida Detox Center primarily use Suboxone treatment to help patients eliminate their opiate addiction. Programs for patients are tailor-made to account for their individual physiology and other needs. To begin your journey toward living clean and sober, contact South Florida Detox Center today.
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