Heroin Addiction Treatment: Side Effects, Withdrawal, and Treatment

In the midst of a relentless opioid crisis, the dangerous grip of heroin addiction has taken root, particularly among young adults. In fact, The rate of heroin use disorder among young adults aged 18 to 25 has increased by more than 400% since 2010.

In this article, we’ll learn about heroin addiction, shedding light on the factors driving this alarming trend and exploring the avenues of treatment that offer a glimmer of hope for long-term recovery.

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Why is Heroin So Addictive?

Heroin, a highly addictive opioid drug derived from morphine, can have devastating effects on individuals’ lives. It impacts the brain’s reward system by flooding it with dopamine, producing intense pleasure and euphoria. The euphoric rush it produces can quickly lead to dependency and substance abuse, making it challenging for users to quit.

The Appeal of Heroin to Young Adults

Young adults often succumb to peer pressure, seeking acceptance among their peers. The allure of experimentation with drugs like heroin can stem from the desire to fit in or appear “cool.” They may also seek escapism from stress and mental health issues, which may turn into substance use disorder.

Another risk factor for heroin abuse is the limited knowledge about the dangers and consequences of heroin addiction. This can make young adults more susceptible to trying the drug and develop an addiction without fully understanding the risks involved.

Heroin is a very dangerous drug that can have serious health consequences, as it slows down the central nervous system.

Short Term Effects of Heroin

Here are some of the short-term effects of heroin use:

  • Euphoric feeling
  • Drowsiness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Nausea and vomiting

Long Term Effects of Heroin

Long term use of heroin can lead to:

  • Addiction
  • Heart, Lung or Liver problems
  • Contracting Infections like HIV or Hepatitis C
  • Overdose

How long does a heroin high last?

The duration of a heroin high can vary depending on a number of factors, including the method of administration, the purity of the heroin, and the user’s individual metabolism.

In general, a heroin high can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. The initial effects of heroin can be felt within minutes of administration, and the peak of the high is usually reached within 30 minutes to an hour. The high then starts to decline gradually, and most of the effects will have worn off within 2 hours.

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Recognizing the signs of heroin addiction is the first step towards intervention. Heroin addiction symptoms may include:

  • Slowed breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Track marks on the skin
  • Social withdrawal
  • Changes in behavior, such as lying or stealing
  • Changes in hygienic behavior

Heroin Overdose

Heroin overdose is the leading cause of death among heroin users. Overdose can occur when someone takes too much heroin, or when they mix heroin with other drugs, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines.

The symptoms of heroin overdose can vary from person to person, but some common symptoms include loss of consciousness, cold and clammy skin, blue lips or fingernails.

If you see someone exhibiting any of these symptoms, it is important to call 911 immediately.

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Withdrawal occurs when someone who is physically dependent on heroin abruptly stops using or significantly reduces their dosage. Heroin withdrawal symptoms can vary in intensity and duration depending on factors such as the individual’s usage patterns, the amount of heroin used, and their overall health.

Common symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:

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Flu-Like Symptoms

Withdrawal often begins with flu-like symptoms such as muscle aches, chills, sweating, and a runny nose.

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Nausea and Vomiting

Digestive disturbances like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are common during withdrawal.

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Anxiety and Restlessness

Heroin withdrawal can cause intense anxiety, restlessness, and irritability.

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Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep are common withdrawal symptoms.

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Strong cravings for heroin can be challenging to manage during withdrawal.

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Muscle and Bone Pain

Individuals may experience severe muscle and bone pain, making it uncomfortable to remain still.

How Long Does Heroin Withdrawal Last?

The process of withdrawal from heroin can be intense and uncomfortable. Medical supervision during withdrawal is crucial to ensure the individual’s safety and provide necessary support.

Withdrawal symptoms usually begin within hours of the last heroin use and peak within a couple of days. The intensity of symptoms tends to decrease over the course of about a week, although some psychological symptoms like depression and cravings can persist for longer.

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

This occurs within 6-12 hours after last use. Initial symptoms usually start within hours after the last heroin use. These symptoms are often mild and can include cravings, anxiety, restlessness, and muscle aches.

The most intense symptoms usually occur within the first 24 to 72 hours after the last dose. During this time, people may experience more severe physical and psychological symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, sweating, muscle cramps, insomnia, irritability, and mood swings.

As time progresses, withdrawal symptoms typically begin to decrease in intensity. Physical symptoms like gastrointestinal distress and chills tend to improve, although psychological symptoms like anxiety, depression, and cravings might still be present.

Some experience a phase of post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) that can last for several weeks to months. PAWS is characterized by lingering psychological symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, and occasional cravings. These symptoms can come and go, making the recovery process challenging.

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Overcoming heroin addiction often requires professional assistance. Treatment plans are tailored to the individual’s needs and may include medication-assisted therapy (MAT) to manage cravings, counseling to address underlying issues, and support groups for ongoing recovery.

Treatment Programs for Heroin Addiction

Medical Detoxification

This approach involves detoxing under the supervision of medical professionals. Medical staff can provide medications to alleviate the severity of withdrawal symptoms, making the process more manageable and safer. Common medications used during medically supervised heroin detox include methadone, buprenorphine, and clonidine.

Inpatient or Residential Rehab

This involves enrolling in an inpatient or residential treatment center. These facilities offer round-the-clock medical care and support, as well as access to counseling and therapy services.

Outpatient Rehab

Some people may prefer outpatient rehab, especially those with less severe addiction. In this approach, patients visit a clinic or medical facility regularly for medication and monitoring but do not stay overnight.

Therapy and Counseling

Behavioral therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), help people address the underlying causes of their addiction. They can also engage in peer groups to foster a sense of community and build coping strategies.

Heroin addiction is a complex challenge, but with the right resources and support, recovery is possible. If you or anyone you know is suffering from heroin addiction, we are here to help.

At HART, we understand the unique challenges that young adults face when it comes to addiction. Our compassionate and experienced team can guide you through a comprehensive and personalized recovery journey.

Take the courageous step towards healing and growth by reaching out to HART – because your well-being matters, and a healthier, happier tomorrow is within your reach.

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