Best Ways to Treat Heroin Addiction

Best Ways to Treat Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction has been on the rise in the United States for many years. People often attribute this epidemic to the overprescription of pain medication when pharmaceutical companies were not truthful about their addictive nature. Research has shown that about 4-6% of those who have abused opioid medications, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, switch to heroin later. However, many people start abusing heroin first and then also abusing opioid medication later. 


What is Heroin?


Heroin is known as an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance from the seed of opium poppy plants. Heroin is a white or brown powder, or it can be a black sticky texture, which is often called black tar heroin. Heroin can be used by injecting, snorting, or smoking it. Once used, it causes an intense euphoric high due to the drug entering the brain very quickly. 


Why is Heroin Addictive?


Addiction, in general, starts in the brain. There are neurotransmitters in the brain that can affect mood. Dopamine is one that makes you feel euphoria, pleasure, or happiness. We increase dopamine in our brains during everyday life events that make us feel happy or excited. However, when drugs are used, especially heroin, it causes an excessive increase in dopamine which causes an intense high. Once the brain has felt this high, it starts craving it. However, the only way that the brain can replicate this sensation is through continued drug use. 


Heroin is highly addictive. When consumed, it enters the brain very quickly and causes an intense high. People who use heroin build up a tolerance very quickly and then need the drug more often or in higher doses to achieve the same effects. If they do not take enough of it or try to stop use, they will experience intense withdrawal symptoms that are very uncomfortable, so people will often return to use to relieve their discomfort from the withdrawal symptoms. 


Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Abuse


Here are some tell-tale signs of heroin abuse. While some of these symptoms can be common for other mental disorders or medical illnesses, it is important to consider these symptoms in the context of the individual’s previous behavior. Heroin addiction often causes sudden changes in behavior when individuals become preoccupied with obtaining the high from heroin. 

  • Presence of specific withdrawal symptoms including restlessness, severe muscle and bone pain, sleep problems, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps, uncontrollable leg movements, and urges to use
  • Track marks most commonly on the forearm close to the inside of the elbow if the drug has been used intravenously
  • Damaged tissue in the nose if it is snorted
  • Falling in and out of conciousness
  • Severe itching 
  • Clouded mental functioning
  • Stealing or lying to support their addiction
  • Withdrawal from obligations or relationships 
  • Insomnia
  • Drowsiness
  • Warm flushing of the skin
  • Nausea
  • Constricted pupils


How to Treat Heroin Addiction


Heroin addiction is treated with behavioral therapies and medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Behavioral therapies commonly used when treating addiction include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, and contingency management. These therapies help individuals with heroin addiction manage triggers for relapse, stress and replace maladaptive thinking patterns with more helpful thinking patterns. These therapies also help individuals build motivation for making and sustaining changes in their life that will promote long-term recovery. MAT uses medications that imitate heroin and bind to the opioid receptors but don’t cause intense highs. This helps to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Medications commonly used to treat heroin addiction include buprenorphine and methadone. 


Finding Heroin Addiction Rehab in Rockford, IL


Brightside Recovery has over 25 years of experience working with clients with addictions issues and mental illness. We understand the barriers that you face in day-to-day life when it comes to your addiction. We are prepared to help you every step of the way. We offer different types of therapy and treatment programs to tailor your treatment plan to you and your specific needs. We have individual therapy, group therapy, and medication-assisted treatment available through our programs. Brightside is unlike other treatment programs because we recognize that relapse is part of the recovery process. We will not discharge clients who have relapsed. Instead, we will be available to support you through that stage of your recovery. Additionally, we understand that your mental health diagnoses are just as important to treat as your addiction. We offer individually tailored treatment plans to address both substance use and mental health during your treatment here. 

Contact us today to schedule an immediate appointment so you can get the help you deserve.

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