Heroin is a highly addictive illegal substance made from the poppy plant; it stems from the drug morphine. Taking this drug often leads to heroin addiction and there are serious negative consequences that accompany this use and abuse. Learning about the drug, the signs that someone is addicted, and the treatment options available is important when seeking heroin addiction recovery.
The drug comes in multiple forms. While it exists in a pure form, it is often mixed with other illegal substances such as cocaine. Due to this, the signs can vary. However, the most common indication that someone has just been using heroin includes:
While heroin addiction is not the only cause for some of these physical changes, they do provide a strong indication. You also want to look for any drug paraphernalia, such as aluminum foil with burn marks, needles, spoons that appear to have been burned and small plastic bags that have a white powdery look. The drug is most often injected into the system with a needle, but it may also be snorted or even smoked. Injection provides the most intense and fastest results.
A person that has been using heroin for some time will show evidence in behavioral changes. He or she may sleep more and lose interest in personal appearance. The addict will have poor performance and attendance at work or school and will often avoid eye contact and interaction with family and friends. You may also notice that the person wears long sleeves to hide track marks from needles. There may be unexplained cuts and bruises and the addict will become defensive and even hostile if asked about their habits.
Heroin enters the brain very quickly, especially when it is injected. This is one reason why the drug is highly addictive. Therefore, treatment for heroin addiction is essential to help the person stop using and recover from the effects of the drug. This process begins with detoxification, where the person must abstain from using the substance until the body is cleansed of the drug. This can take from two to seven days.
Withdrawal during detoxification is often leads to severe symptoms and cravings, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, agitation and aches and pains. Medications are available to treat the withdrawal symptoms, but they must be given in a supervised setting, such as an inpatient facility.
Once detoxification is complete, the person then receives therapy and behavioral treatment. This step is essential for long-term success. Therapy is often in individual sessions as well as in groups. It may deal with the underlying cause of the heroin use, and it teaches the person better ways to deal with stress.
The addict learns about the triggers and how to avoid them. He or she will learn coping mechanisms for situations that cannot be avoided. Damaged relationships may be mended through family counseling as part of the treatment program.
These programs can be inpatient or outpatient and may last a few weeks or months. Continual follow-up may be advised for an extended period of time. Narcotics Anonymous is an independent outpatient program that can be used for the lifetime of the person.
Heroin addiction is a serious problem that causes serious short-term and long-term effects on the addict. With the right treatment plan and the support of family and friends, the person can stop using and live a happy, fulfilled life.
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