• Effects of Heroin on the Brain

    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
    • Anxiety
    • Agitation
    • Weight loss
    • Hallucinations
    • Depression
    • 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.

    Sources

    1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates

    2. http://www.irishhealth.com/article.html?id=7759

  • The Rising Heroin Epidemic

    Research data collected from recently published reports by the CDC (Centers of Disease Control and Prevention) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute on Drug Abuse demonstrate heroin usage has increased significantly over the past decade. According to CBS News report from June 23, 2016, then-President Obama asked Congress for $1.1 billion in funding to address the epidemic. 1

    Part of the problem for the heroin epidemic, which is supported by the collected data, is that prescription painkiller drug use has also increased. Prescription pain medications, such as Vicodin® and OxyContin®, mimic the effects of heroin. It is not uncommon for someone to become addicted to prescription painkillers first, and then transition to heroin later.

    Hand reaching for heroin needle and drugs

    In fact, according to the NIH, close to 80% of heroin addicts in the United States, including those currently seeking treatment, have reported to first using and abusing prescription painkillers. 2 This is a change in previous trends from several decades ago. During that time, it was more common for people to use and abuse heroin first, and then move on to prescription painkillers.

    The reason things have changed can be contributed to the ease of access to prescription opioids in the 1990s and early 2000s. At that time, there was no centralized tracking of prescription data. It was easy for a person to see multiple physicians and obtain multiple prescriptions for painkillers. For heroin addicts, it was easier to get a neverending supply of opioid drugs than to find a reliable source of heroin to support their habit.

    However, with changes in regulations and stricter controls on the dispensing of prescription opioids, this is no longer the case. As it has become more difficult to obtain regular supplies of prescription painkillers, addicts have now turned to heroin use to fuel their addictions.

    Man holding head next to pills

    Why Is Heroin So Addictive?

    Heroin is in a class of opioid drugs that are made from the seed pods found on opium poppy plants. For prescription drug abusers, taking heroin provides similar effects to opioid pain relievers. It is fast-acting, and it quickly binds to receptors in the brain and other areas of the body. It tends to reduce feelings of pain while enhancing feelings of pleasure.

    The euphoric state one achieves from taking heroin is highly addictive. So much so, it only requires a person to try heroin once to be hooked on this drug. However, you need to realize that this euphoric state is just one possible outcome from using heroin. Not everyone has a pleasurable experience.

    Some short-term side effects of using heroin could include: 2

    • Vomiting
    • Nausea
    • Drifting Between Conscious and Unconscious States
    • Dry Mouth
    • Itchy Skin
    • Reduced Mental Functioning
    • Heavy Feeling in the Arms and Legs
    • Warm Sensations of the Skin

    Woman sleeping on bed

    Long-term heroin use side effects not only include becoming addicted to the drug, but also: 2

    • Sexual Dysfunction
    • Kidney and Liver Disease
    • Irregular Menstrual Cycles
    • Insomnia
    • Heart Lining and Heart Valve Infections
    • Skin Abscesses
    • Stomach Cramping
    • Constipation
    • Depression
    • Antisocial Personality Disorder
    • Tissue Damage
    • Collapsed Veins
    • Lung Infections
    • Accidental Overdose
    • Death

    Facts and Statistics

    According to the CDC, from 2002 through 2013, past year usage, past monthly usage, and addiction to heroin have increased the most in the 18-to-25-year-old age group. 3 In addition, out of all new users, 75% reported having previously abused prescription painkillers before switching to heroin.

    Group of people on heroin

    Data collected by the CDC of those who previously abused prescription drugs or other substances is illustrated in the following chart:

    CDC Chart with the Percentage of Drug Users

    It is clear to see, for the period from 2011 to 2013, the significant increase in prescription opioid abuse grew and has now become more prevalent than alcohol abuse, prior to abusing heroin. In some cases, addicts will continue to abuse the other substance along with using heroin. Data collected by the CDC about prior substance abuse shows: 4

    • 56.8% of heroin users report past-month binge drinking.
    • 97.4% of heroin users reported using other psychotherapeutic drugs for nonmedical purposes over the past year.
    • 45.7% reported having used marijuana within the past year.
    • 138.2% of new heroin users reported having taken and used prescription opioid pain relievers for nonmedical purposes over the past year.
    • 87.1% reported having used cocaine during the past year.

    Man alone with hoodie

    According to the CDC, other facts and statistics collected include: 3,4

    • The rate of heroin-related overdoses resulting in deaths increased by a factor of 5 from 2010 to 2016.
    • In 2016, more than 15,469 people died of heroin overdoses.
    • The number of deaths increased the largest for synthetic opioids from 2015 to 2016.
    • In 2016, 19,413 people died from synthetic opioids compared to 9,580 in 2015.
    • Fentanyl is the top synthetic opioid.
    • Fentanyl can be mixed with heroin or cocaine without the drug addict’s knowledge.
    • Possible contributors to the heroin epidemic include improved purity, decreased prices, and increased access.
    • There was a 108.6% increase in heroin usage from 2002 to 2013 in 18-to-25-year-olds.
    • There was an increase of 114.3% for the non-Hispanic white (Caucasian) race segment.
    • The biggest increase in abusers came from the middle-income class earning between $20,000 and $49,999 annually, with a 76.9% increase.
    • Usage by females increased 100% from 2002 to 2013.
    • Usage by males increased 50% from 2002 to 2013.
    • Overall heroin usage rose from 2002 to 2013 by 62.5%.
    • Overall heroin dependence and abuse rose from 2002 to 2013 by 90%.

    The CDC also found that heroin usage is often part of a larger substance abuse and addiction problem. According to research data, people who are addicted to: 5

    • Alcohol are two times more likely to become addicted to heroin.
    • Marijuana are three times more likely to become addicted to heroin.
    • Cocaine are fifteen times more likely to become addicted to heroin.
    • Prescription opioid painkillers are forty times more likely to become addicted to heroin.

    As evident from the research data, statistics, and facts about heroin usage, it is now a major epidemic in the United States that affects everyone, regardless of income and race.

    heroin use to fuel the addictions

    How to Help Someone with a Heroin Addiction

    It is important to remember that you cannot force someone with a heroin addiction to seek treatment. However, that does not mean you cannot help them. Often, friends and family members of a heroin addict do not fully understand the effects this drug has on the body and brain.

    Far too often, friends and family members will simply demand that the addict stops using heroin, yet taking this approach rarely delivers the desired results. Instead, addicts will respond by hiding their heroin abuse and/or starting to push those closest to them away. Essentially, heroin will become more important than the addict’s friends and family.

    Rather, a better place to start is to take the time to educate oneself about heroin health effects on the body and brain . Taking this approach will be more beneficial for you and your family in the long run. In addition, if necessary, you can seek help for staging an intervention from heroin addiction experts like us at South Florida Detox Center or a qualified facility in your area.

    The key objective of a staged invention overseen by a professional is to help guide the addict and their friends and family to address the problem. The goal is to bring to light the addiction and increase awareness about how it is affecting those around the addict. Ultimately, it is hopeful the intervention will get the addicts to admit they have a problem.

    Group therapy comfort by South Florida Detox Center

    Once the addicts admit they have a problem, then they will be more receptive to coming to terms with the fact they need help. Again, it is important to stress for you to avoid pushing addicts into a treatment program. They must make a conscious decision themselves that they want to stop and are ready to take the first steps on the path to recovery.

    If you want to learn more about the signs of heroin use and what you can do to help a loved one with a heroin or opioid drug addiction, or are a heroin or prescription drug addict ready to being rehab, please feel free to contact South Florida Detox Center at (772) 675-6350 today! We have detox centers located in Broward, Palm Beach, and the Treasure Coast.

    Sources

    1. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/heroin-use-in-u-s-reaches-alarming-20-year-high/
    2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin
    3. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html
    4. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6426a3.htm?s_cid=mm6426a3_w
    5. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/opioids/heroin.html

    Chart Source:

    1. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6426a3.htm?s_cid=mm6426a3_w

  • The Painkiller-Heroin Connection

    Many experts would agree that heroin addiction has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. This particular drug addiction, which is also present in West Palm Beach, can cause fatal overdoses and other serious health consequences . Since prevention is always preferable, it’s worth investigating the causes of such widespread drug abuse. One of the major factors driving the heroin addiction is actually opioid painkillers, which doctors can legally prescribe for patients with acute or chronic conditions.

    Some health advocates have called upon doctors to prescribe powerful painkillers more carefully or to monitor their patients for signs of drug dependence and abuse. This is because some patients become addicted to legally prescribed narcotics. Consequently, opioid addiction can lead to heroin addiction when the individual can no longer afford or is no longer prescribed opioids. Getting heroin on the street produces the same sense of euphoria and it’s much cheaper. It also increases the user’s risk of dying from an overdose, contracting an infectious disease, or suffering other dire health consequences.

    major factors driving the heroin addiction is actually opioid painkillers

  • Why Is Heroin Addiction Rising in Women?

    The rate of drug abuse and addiction among women has been on the rise. The rate of heroin addiction in particular has nearly doubled among women. These alarming trends have experts very concerned, since increasing drug addiction near West Palm Beach means that more babies will be born already addicted to drugs. Drug overdoses have also been increasing, as have the rates of infectious diseases like hepatitis C.

    So why are so many women becoming the victims of drug addiction? Watch this interview to find out. This expert explains that legally prescribed opioid pain relievers often act as a gateway drug. When women can no longer obtain these drugs, they might turn to heroin, which is cheaper and readily available.

  • Does Someone You Love Need Help with a Heroin Addiction?

    Heroin addiction is a devastating disease that tears apart families and places a heavy burden on communities. Often, individuals who are struggling with addictions want to be free of them, but they lack the means to break free of drug addiction on their own. It’s essential for family members and friends to avoid turning a blind eye to the signs of addiction. There are drug treatment centers in West Palm Beach that can help your loved one, such as by providing Suboxone treatment.

    Recognizing the Signs of Heroin Addiction

    Recognizing the Signs of Heroin Addiction There are many possible signs of heroin addiction. These include physical changes you may see in your loved one. He or she may cycle through periods of euphoria, followed by periods of excessive sleepiness. Heroin addicts may display confusion, disorientation, unusual sleeping patterns, significant weight loss, and slurred speech. You might notice needle marks on your loved one’s arms or elsewhere on the body, and your loved one may frequently have a runny or itchy nose. Heroin addicts tend to lie frequently, perform poorly at work or school, and steal money and valuable items.

    Understanding Enabling Behaviors

    Once you’ve recognized that your loved one has been abusing heroin, it’s necessary to learn how to identify your own behaviors that enable him or her. Negative enabling behaviors are those that allow addicts to escape the consequences of their choices and actions. Because heroin addicts tend to spend all their money on drugs, they might lose their job and their home. Some examples of enabling behaviors include giving the addict money and a place to stay. Another enabling behavior is bailing a loved one out of jail after the addiction results in a criminal charge.

    Directing Your Loved One to a Treatment Center

    Let your loved one know that although you won’t enable his or her behavior, you will provide your ongoing support if he or she seeks treatment. Take the initiative to research drug detox clinics in your area and help your loved one understand that there are options beyond inpatient rehab. Many people have successfully overcome heroin addiction through outpatient Suboxone treatment. Your loved one may be more willing to try treatment if it doesn’t involve becoming an inpatient.

  • A Look at South Florida’s Heroin Epidemic

    Thanks in part to pain medication abuse, heroin addiction has reached epidemic levels nationally, and South Florida has not been spared. Recovery from heroin addiction in West Palm Beach and the surrounding areas is possible, with substance abuse treatment programs that are experienced in working with this potent addiction. Watch this video to learn more.

    Heroin addiction is impacting communities across the country, both rich and poor. This highly addictive drug is being made even more dangerous in South Florida, where heroin is being laced with fentanyl. Experts estimate that fentanyl can make heroin up to 100 times more addictive in some cases. Because heroin withdrawal symptoms can be so intense, drug addiction recovery should be managed by experienced substance abuse counselors in addiction treatment centers.

  • What Increases the Risk of Opiate Addiction?

    Opiate addiction, from prescription drug abuse to heroin addiction, is rampant in the U.S. Many people point to over-prescription of medications as a contributing factor, but what makes one person develop an opiate addiction when another does not? Understanding the things that contributed to your drug dependence in West Palm Beach is an important part of your recovery. By knowing your risk factors, you can reduce your chances of relapsing in the future. Here is a closer look at some of the factors that increase the risk of developing an opiate addiction.

    Family History

    Drug Addiction treatment in West Palm Beach Most researchers believe that there is a genetic component to addiction. If you have a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, who has a history of addiction, then you could have a higher risk of developing an opiate addiction yourself. Not everyone with a family history of addiction will develop one, but having this history does indicate that you could be more susceptible to addictive behaviors.

    Environment

    Being exposed to opiate addiction may make it more likely that you will engage in it. This can include growing up in a home that was chaotic because of addiction or having a circle of friends who abuse prescription drugs or heroin. When these conditions are part of your environment, opiate addiction can take on a normality that makes you more likely to take on those same behaviors. If your family history already makes you vulnerable to addiction and you see it play out in front of you repeatedly, you are even more likely to develop a drug dependency.

    Biology and Psychology

    Physical and mental illness can also contribute to addiction. Experts believe that some people who develop a drug dependence are born without a sufficient amount of endorphins, neurotransmitters that create feelings of well-being. These people may abuse opiates to achieve those feelings of well-being that are not being created by the usual biological pathways. Mental illnesses, including anxiety and depression, frequently accompany drug abuse and must be treated to effectively treat the addiction. Having a condition that causes chronic pain may also lead to opiate abuse.

  • Why Is Heroin So Powerful?

    When it comes to drug dependence in West Palm Beach, heroin is one of the most highly addictive substances available. Watch this video to learn why heroin delivers such a powerful high.

    Heroin addictions are such a struggle because heroin produces a high unlike that of any other drug. Addiction recovery is possible for any heroin addict, as long as he or she is properly supervised throughout opioid withdrawal. Heroin is both so deadly and so powerful because users never know how much pure drug they are taking. Taking too much heroin can quickly threaten a drug addict’s life, because heroin suppresses the part of the brain that controls breathing and can even stop breathing entirely.

  • Examining the Progression of Heroin Detox Symptoms

    Opiate detox near West Palm Beach can seem overwhelming for anyone. But with the right medications and a network of supportive family and friends, you can overcome opiate detox symptoms. Trying to quit heroin on your own is nearly impossible. If you or a loved one is addicted to heroin, contact a detox center so you can create a customized treatment plan that is right for your particular needs and goals. Read on to learn more about how heroin detox symptoms progress, including initial symptoms, intermediate symptoms, and final symptoms.

    Initial Symptoms

    Opiate detox is most uncomfortable during the first few days, when symptoms can range from moderately painful to excruciating. The first two days of heroin detox are the most difficult for most patients. Within 12 hours of taking heroin, many people feel muscle aches and pain. You may also suffer from panic attacks, anxiety, insomnia, and loss of appetite. Cold sweats and even seizures are also common.

    Intermediate Symptoms

    Progression of Heroin Detox Symptoms As with any drug addiction, detox is a process. During the intermediate stages of heroin detox, patients will still be affected by uncomfortable side effects. While suboxone will make the process as comfortable as possible, you can still expect to feel nauseous. Proper nutrition is incredibly important during this time. Many patients will lose their appetites altogether, but eating well will boost your immune system response as your body struggles to recover from withdrawal. You may continue to have trouble sleeping during this time.

    Final Symptoms

    Heroin detox is different for everyone. Still, the worst of your side effects will conclude after about a week. Nausea, anxiety, and depression will be mild or moderate after this time. Your body will begin to regain its strength, and your appetite will return. You may still suffer from mood swings. Many heroin addicts feel irritated at their loved ones for no apparent reason. Others will continue to feel sad or emotionally empty for some time.

  • How Heroin Affects Vital Organs

    Addictions to heroin cause serious health problems that can result in death. The sooner a heroin addict seeks help for drug addiction near West Palm Beach, the sooner they stop inflicting severe damage on the body’s vital organs. Individuals who are struggling with heroin addiction are at a high risk of being diagnosed with problems of the kidneys, intestines, and brain.

    Intestinal Problems

    The autonomic nervous system controls automatic bodily functions such as digestion. Since heroin adversely affects the autonomic nervous system, individuals with this type of drug addiction commonly struggle with digestive problems. Specifically, heroin slows down the mechanisms of the intestines and causes poor bowel motility. The end result is chronic constipation. When bowel movements stop completely, the intestines can rupture. Some individuals with addictions will actually purposely go into the early stages of drug withdrawal every 10 to 15 days. Withdrawing from heroin will trigger diarrhea, which can prevent bowel impaction.

    factors of kidney damage among heroin addicts Kidney Damage

    The most common cause of kidney failure is diabetes that is not well controlled. However, kidney failure can have another cause: heroin addiction. Abusing heroin can lead to high levels of proteins in the urine. Eventually, kidney failure can develop . Other contributing factors of kidney damage among heroin addicts include the increased risk of HIV and hepatitis C from shared needles. The kidneys are essential for life. They are responsible for removing waste products from the bloodstream. If the function of the kidneys becomes impaired, waste products buildup in the bloodstream, blood pressure increases, red blood cell production declines, and the body retains excess fluid. Patients with kidney failure typically require aggressive treatment to prolong life, including regular trips to a treatment center for dialysis or possibly an organ transplant.

    Brain Deterioration

    Another vital organ that heroin can permanently damage is the brain. An overdose of heroin results in oxygen deprivation to the brain. When the brain cells are deprived of a steady supply of oxygen, they begin to die off. Researchers have found that the brains of heroin addicts have suffered from damage similar to the brain damage found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.