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.
It requires a great deal of courage and strength to face up to a drug abuse problem. While you cannot do all the hard work for a friend or loved one, you can be the catalyst for positive change and enable those you care about to find the right help at the right time.
If you are wondering how to help someone with a heroin addiction , or a person abusing other substances, your awareness and support is the most valuable thing you can offer. If you suspect that your friend or family member needs help, or are just wondering how you would know they had reached a dangerous point of substance abuse, these lists will guide you.
The fact that you are looking for answers shows your caring level of concern.
How Will You Know If a Friend Needs Help with Addiction?
Without a concerned support system many individuals struggle with detox symptoms on their own. Research indicates that for a single year studied, of an estimated 22.7 million people who needed help with addiction only 2.5 million received treatment in a specialized program. This means that 20.2 million went untreated. 1
Is it time to intervene? How do you help someone struggling with addictive drugs? You can start by becoming aware of the physical, behavioral, and psychological signs of heroin abuse and other substance addiction.
- Being evasive, secretive, and being caught in lies frequently. Hiding drug use and purchases requires the user to begin lying to those around them.
- Loses interest in hobbies, passions, or activities they once enjoyed. Addictive substances flatten out the emotional response to other experiences, also there may not be enough time to pursue both things.
- Drastically changes appearance and general attitude, or has severe mood swings. This may be due to new (drug-using) peer group, or the effects of short term withdrawal.
- Travels alone to unusual places at odd hours. They may offer evasive responses when asked where they are going or why, and they won’t want you to come along.
- Starts stealing from friends, family, or workplace to support their drug use. This behavior from a previously honest and trustworthy friend can be a shocking sign. The pain of un-medicated withdrawal causes this desperate behavior.
- Fails to meet commitments, which might be related to memory loss or blackouts. As addiction grows, not only does the drug eclipse the importance of other responsibilities, the user may lose time or not be able to remember where they were.
- Has unexplained changes in sleep or energy level. Might be hyperactive, talk too much, or fall asleep suddenly. As drug levels rise and fall, there may be manic bursts of energy and subsequent crashes.
- Sudden weight changes can be caused by stimulants, or by not eating while under the influence of opiates. Inactivity while under the influence may also cause weight gain.
- Unexplained bruises or marks, needle marks on arms, legs or bottoms of the feet. Bruises may be caused by stumbling or falling. Needle marks tell their own tale.
- Glazed or red eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual, or a persistent blank stare. Most addictive substances affect pupil size and the eyes give a good indication of awareness.
- Nausea, vomiting, or excessive sweating, cold, sweaty palms or shaking hands can be signs of opiate detox, withdrawal from alcohol, or any physically addictive substance.
- Puffy face, blushing or paleness. Changes in blood pressure cause these intermittent effects. In combination with other symptoms, these might be significant.
- Runny nose, hacking cough, unusual nose bleeds. Any substance that is sniffed or inhaled can cause these types of reactions.
- Unusual odors. You may not recognize what it is, but metabolism changes can cause noticeable changes in someone’s body odors. Also, the fumes of other substances may cling to clothes or skin.
- Develops a visible tolerance or increases dosages. You may notice this in prescription drug addiction if you have visibility to pill bottles. It can be very difficult to reverse this trend and return to normal dosages.
- Becomes preoccupied with maintaining a steady supply, or becomes angry or violent when the supply runs out or they miss a dose. This reaction makes clear that the drug is taking over their normal personality.
- Sells personal property or has items repossessed. Pawns or sells things of personal value to catch up on bills or to buy drugs. Their home may become noticeably empty, or they may part with collections or family heirlooms.
- Legal problems arise in the form of a DUI, possession arrest, or they might be caught stealing. They may be required to seek treatment as a result, or offered the option.
- Job loss occurs due to poor performance, being late, etc. They may change jobs frequently because it is too difficult to keep to a schedule consistently.
- School or family are concerned about the possibility of child neglect. As a person is taken over by their addiction, they may not be able to properly care for children. If there is any concern about this, immediate help is needed.
- Indicates that they want to reduce or stop using drugs, but they do not make progress on their own. They may be struggling with withdrawal without medical help and guidance. Users in this stage can immediately benefit from a medication based detox program.
- Is aware of the negative impacts on their health and those around them, but continues to use the drug. If they are ready to discuss the negatives, they may be getting ready to begin recovery.
- Voluntarily discusses detox or rehab but does not follow up with any actions, or jokes about needing a program. They may be testing the waters to see if you agree they need help. They want to know you will be supportive and accepting. This is a great time to offer resources and information.
Why Is It so Difficult for Those We Love to Quit?
Continuous or repeated abuse of drugs causes changes in the brain. Self-control centers within the brain are inhibited or damaged, which shows up in brain scans of those in the grip of addiction. 2 Wanting to change is essential to recovery, but it is usually not enough on it’s own.
Finding the right opiate detox center in Florida might require a little help from a friend. There are both inpatient and outpatient detox options to consider. Doing some research and being ready to offer information to your loved one is empowering for both of you.
If you get initial pushback, that’s okay. Continue to provide emotional support and information as your friend’s recognition of their problem grows.
Where to Find Help for Friends and Family
There are a number of detox centers in south Florida that provide different environments that support recovery. Outpatient options may be the right starting place, allowing your loved one to get the guidance and medical support needed to deal with heroin detox symptoms or other types of withdrawal, while still maintaining a normal life and keeping up with commitments.
At South Florida Detox Centers outpatient programs can be customized to fit the patient. Our team will meet with and assess your friend to develop the right combination of therapies and medications to alleviate symptoms. The detox certified physician will discuss the options of outpatient detox, opiate detox, and Suboxone™ treatment. This custom treatment plan will ease the detoxification process and control withdrawal symptoms.
With you by their side and willing to help them recognize their needs and pursue treatment, your friend or loved one can win the battle against addiction, find new hope, and create a healthy life. If these symptoms are taking over the personality of someone you care about, c ontact us . Recovery is within reach, with devoted friends like you and expert outpatient detox treatment nearby.
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.
Heroin is part of a family of drugs called opioids, which can cause a strong chemical dependence in a short period of time. Like many other addictions, heroin addiction can be difficult or impossible to overcome alone—seeking professional help with opiate detox and substance abuse treatment in West Palm Beach is the very best way to break free from drug dependence.
Current trends indicate a dramatic increase in heroin use and heroin addiction in recent years. This video discusses a study comparing the demographics of individuals suffering from heroin addiction in the 1960s with those suffering from heroin-based addictions today. Not only will you learn more about the type of individual most likely to suffer from heroin addiction today; you’ll also learn more about the reasons behind the current increase in heroin usage.
Heroin addiction occurs because of the intense drug dependence heroin incites in the brain and body. This dependence is what makes heroin and other opiates such strong candidates for drug abuse, while also increasing the difficulty of the detoxing process without professional help. If you are suffering from a heroin or opiate drug dependence in West Palm Beach, working with a professional substance abuse counselor during the opiate detox process is an important first step on the road to recovery.
Heroin and the Brain’s Receptors
Heroin and other opiates work by binding to very specific receptor sites in the brain. These sites are designed to receive and bind endorphins, which are hormones produced within the body to reduce pain sensations and improve mood, making you feel “good.” However, opiates—including heroin—are more potent than endorphins, triggering a more extreme effect in the brain , typically called a high. This high is often what causes individuals to continue using heroin; some people are able to feel high every time they use heroin, while others lose the ability to feel good entirely, and continue to use heroin only to prevent the unpleasant side effects that occur during opiate withdrawal.
Heroin and Dependence
Heroin is known for its high incidence of drug dependence, which occurs as a result of physical and chemical changes in the brain over time. When heroin is frequently introduced into the body, the brain has difficulty regulating hormones and other neurotransmitters normally, which leads to withdrawal and side effects that include anxiety, cravings, pain, nausea, and changes in respiration and heart rate. Although these symptoms typically last only one to two weeks in the absence of heroin, they can present a significant obstacle that blocks many individuals during addiction recovery. Opiate detox is the process of removing all traces of heroin from the body, which slowly allows the brain to return to its original state; this process is often accompanied by the use of drugs such as Suboxone, which mimic the effects of heroin without causing the same severe dependence.
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.
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