Treating Heroin Addiction in Maine
Drug addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is an illness that affects users’ brains and behavior and causes them to lose control over whether or not they take drugs or medications. Alcohol, heroin, and meth are examples of commonly abused substances.
Drug abuse can begin with the occasional recreational drug usage that some people engage in social settings before developing into drug addiction. Others develop a substance use disorder after being exposed to prescription pharmaceuticals or after acquiring medications from a friend or relative who has been prescribed the medication, especially with opioids.
Each substance has a different level of addiction danger and speed of addiction development. The danger and speed of addiction are greater with some medicines, such as heroin. As time goes on, you will need higher doses to feel the same high.
You could eventually require the drug merely to feel decent. On the other hand, you could discover that abstaining becomes more challenging as your drug use rises. You could experience strong desires and physical sickness (withdrawal symptoms) when trying to stop using drugs.
What Is Heroin?
A natural chemical called morphine is used to make the opioid narcotic heroin. Heroin is derived from the seed pods of several opium poppy plants grown in Southeast and Southwest Asia, Mexico, and Colombia. White, brown, or black powders are all possible forms of heroin. Black tar heroin is a sticky, dark material.
Heroin is injected, sniffed, snorted, or smoked. Speedballing is the term for the practice of combining heroin with crack cocaine.
Whatever method you use, heroin swiftly reaches your brain. Addiction to heroin can be very fast, and it can be challenging to stop using it again, even if you have just used it a few times.
Effects of Heroin
Heroin enters the brain fast and attaches to opioid receptors on cells in various regions, including those responsible for mediating pain and pleasure sensations as well as heart rate, sleep, and respiration. You get an immediate surge of positive emotions and euphoria after using heroin. Then, for a while, it seems as though time has stopped. You may also feel as if you’re moving slowly while you contemplate.
According to some users, it seems like you’re dreaming. Heroin reduces your heart rate and respiration while preventing your body from receiving pain signals. Overdosing may cause you to cease breathing and die.
With heroin, the rush frequently comes with:
• Dry mouth
• Warm flushing of the skin
• Heaviness in the limbs
• Narrowing of the pupils
• Extreme itching, nausea, and vomiting
Regular heroin use can cause severe health and lifestyle issues such as:
• The danger of developing other blood-borne diseases, including HIV and hepatitis, or blood poisoning from sharing needles and other equipment or from using filthy or contaminated equipment
• Skin abscesses and collapsed veins
• Persistent constipation
• Infertility issues
• Irregular menstrual cycles in women and impotence in men
• A poor diet and lowered immunity
• Greater possibility of developing pneumonia and other respiratory conditions
• Damage to the blood arteries leading to the lungs, liver, kidneys, and brain owing to the additives used with heroin
• Risk of overdose, loss of relationships, employment, and home as the person’s desire for the drug becomes all-consuming
Why People Use Heroin
Since 2007, the number of Americans who use heroin has continuously increased. In addition, the increased usage of prescription painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone, both derived from the poppy plant and chemically linked to heroin, has contributed to the growth of heroin use.
People who abuse or depend on these medications could start hunting for a more potent high, which heroin can provide. However, it’s also riskier. You do not know what or how much medicine you are taking.
Between 2010 and 2017, the fatality rate from opioid overdoses in the U.S. increased by about 400%. Some of these fatalities result from the combination of heroin with other medications, such as the potent analgesic fentanyl. One of the leading causes of overdose mortality in the U.S. is now fentanyl.
Dependence and Tolerance
Users can develop a tolerance to heroin just like they can to some other substances. Heroin users will need to consume greater amounts within a short period to have the same impact. Their body will soon begin to rely on heroin to perform “normally.”
For some heroin addicts, the drug is the only thing that counts in life. They could neglect their jobs, relationships, and even the most fundamental requirements, like eating. Heroin usage can be connected to financial, legal, and other personal issues. Users have a psychological reliance on the substance, which causes them to fear if they are momentarily or perhaps permanently deprived of it.
Identifying Family Member’s Drug Use
It might be challenging to tell the difference between typical unhappiness or moodiness and drug usage. Possible signs that your kid or another member of your household is taking drugs include:
• Regular absences from school or work, a sudden lack of enthusiasm in work or school activities, or a decline in grades or performance at work
• Issues with one’s physical health, such as low energy and motivation, weight gain or decrease, or red eyes
• Neglected appearance in grooming or attire
• Changes in conduct such as making obtrusive attempts to keep family members out of their room or keeping friends’ whereabouts secret or abrupt changes in behavior and relationships with family and friends
• Unexpected demands for money without a good cause, the finding of lost or stolen money, or the disappearance of objects from your house that may be sold
Symptoms of a Heroin Overdose
Could you recognize the symptoms of a heroin overdose as a partner, family member, friend, or bystander? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, statistics reveal that the chances of experiencing a drug overdose are rising, particularly as more Americans switch from abusing prescription opioids to heroin.
The following are the most typical signs of a heroin overdose:
• Sluggish breathing (even gasping)
• Light skin
• Lips and fingers with a blue tinge
According to Aaron Sternlicht, LMHC, CASAC, “the most important indicator of a heroin overdose is if the subject is unconscious.” Sternlicht is an addiction expert and therapist in Brooklyn, New York. He adds, “I’m referring to those who are unresponsive to verbal or physical provocation or who look to be asleep yet do not awaken when they are shaken or shouted at.”
According to emergency room physician Bryan Canterbury, MD, a person who has overdosed on pure heroin or heroin mixed with the synthetic opioid fentanyl frequently nods off while standing up or in the middle of a sentence. A warning indicator is users lolling their heads if they are seated.
According to Lawrence Weinstein, MD, chief medical officer at American Addiction Centers in Brentwood, Tennessee, you may not be able to instantly conclude “heroin overdose” unless drug paraphernalia is nearby, but “you typically would be able to determine that inebriation of some kind is taking place,” he says.
Canterbury continues, “You should also watch for changes in mental state.” “The person may not be speaking clearly, may be fumbling and slurring words, or may be getting upset that you are questioning them.”
Heroin Addiction Treatment
There are various ways to treat heroin.
• Medication programs such as methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone
• Individual counseling
Controlled drug withdrawal under medical supervision is the first step in detoxing. Heroin detox calls for specialist support from a qualified professional. It is the process through which individuals begin to recover their physical and mental health and clear their bodies of heroin-related poisons. While the stabilization period is often shorter, persistent withdrawal symptoms might remain for months or even years.
The withdrawal symptoms, which include agitation, anxiety, trembling, muscular pains, hot and cold flashes, and occasionally nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, are exceedingly painful but not life-threatening. The dose and withdrawal time impact how strong the reaction is. Heroin and other short-acting opiates commonly cause more severe but transient side effects.
Buprenorphine and methadone are two drugs that can be used to assist individuals when they’re going through withdrawal. These medications function by weakly attaching to the same opioid receptors as heroin in the brain, which lessens cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Methadone is a drug that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has licensed for both pain management and medication-assisted therapy (MAT) for opioid use disorder (OUD). Methadone is a safe and reliable drug when used as directed. Methadone assists people in achieving and maintaining recovery as well as reclaiming active and fulfilling lives.
Naltrexone, which inhibits opioid receptors and stops opioid medicines from acting, is another therapy option. According to NIDA research, an extended-release naltrexone formulation and a buprenorphine/naloxone combination are equally effective in treating addiction after treatment has begun. Complete detoxification is required for treatment with naloxone, but after detoxification was finished, both drugs exhibited comparable efficacy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy and contingency management are two behavioral treatments for heroin addiction. Clients’ expectations and actions around drug usage can be changed through cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps them handle stress and triggers. Contingency management offers motivating rewards for healthy actions, including abstaining from drugs through coupons or modest financial sums.
Substance use disorder can be treated using a 12-step facilitation treatment. It is a type of group treatment that acknowledges that addiction can have many detrimental effects, some of which can be social, emotional, spiritual, and physical. This kind of treatment starts with acceptance, progresses to submission to a higher power, and then moves on to participation in regular group sessions.
Support for Loved Ones in Their Recovering Journey
Significant substance use issues are a chronic disease. Everyone near the users is also impacted. Unfortunately, the needs of a loved one with a substance use disorder are frequently prioritized by family and friends over their own needs. That leads to a lack of self-care, an increase in disease, and occasionally issues with anxiety and sadness. By attending to your own physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental needs, you’ll be better equipped to support your loved one during the hard recovery process.
They’re Human, Not a Monster
Remember that addiction is an illness. It leads to a false sense of what is important, which tilts toward approving further drug use. It is OK to become annoyed or furious with users, yet you might need to limit contact if they are abusing drugs or alcohol. However, avoid treating the individual as an outcast or a shame to the family. This may make your loved ones feel ashamed and prevent them from seeking help. But after they start their recovery, talk to them and attempt to understand how substance abuse became a regular part of their lives.
Seek advice from a specialist on how to talk to loved ones or friends about their addiction so they may receive treatment. One organization that can advise you on how to do this is Liberty Bay Recovery Center. We can help you choose the best therapy choices available here in Maine for you or your loved one.
Choose Words Wisely
It may be hard to have a close connection with someone who uses drugs or alcohol compulsively. However, using damaging statements like “If you loved me, you’d quit” is a bad habit that virtually never works. Instead, express your worries with compassion. Remind your loved one frequently that you are ready to be a support during their rehabilitation and that they are not alone.
Tell them you care about them enough to come to visit them in person. You must understand that establishing boundaries with a person in recovery is entirely acceptable. Allowing users to suffer the results of their actions is occasionally the most compassionate thing we can do for them. You are not punishing your loved one in any way by doing this.
It’s a Lifelong Journey
Even after you discover a therapy strategy that works, you may experience multiple relapses. Even sober people find it challenging to create stability in their lives. Therefore, keep encouraging your loved one’s efforts. Millions of people who formerly battled the harmful effects of alcoholism or other substance addictions are now leading contented, successful lives.
Contact Liberty Bay Recovery Center to start your heroin addiction treatment in Maine today.