Heroin Addiction Treatment & Information
Heroin use is skyrocketing across the United States shedding light on heroin addiction treatment options.
What Is Heroin?
Heroin is an opiate drug that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. It usually appears as a white or brown powder or as a black sticky substance, known as “black tar heroin.”
Short-term effects of use can include:
- Nodding off (alternately alert and drowsy state)
- Dry mouth
- Severe itching
- Constricted Pupils
- Nausea, vomiting
- Slowed mental function
- Reduced physical pain
- Warm flushed skin
- Weakness in muscles
- Slowed breathing
- Overdose and/or death
Long-term effects of use can include:
- Bad teeth
- Inflammation of the gums
- Cold sweats
- Weakening of the immune system
- Respiratory (breathing) illnesses
- Muscular weakness, partial paralysis
- Reduced sexual capacity and long-term impotence in men
- Menstrual disturbance in women
- Inability to achieve orgasm (women and men)
- Loss of memory and intellectual performance
- Pustules on the face
- Loss of appetite
Heroin Treatment Options
A range of treatments exist for addiction, including medications and behavioral therapies. Treatment often begins with medically assisted detoxification, to help patients withdraw from the drug safely. Medications such as clonidine and, now, buprenorphine can be used to help minimize symptoms of withdrawal.
Medications to help prevent relapse include the following:
Methadone has been used for more than 30 years to treat heroin addiction. It is a synthetic opiate medication that binds to the same receptors as heroin; but when taken orally, it has a gradual onset of action and sustained effects, reducing the desire for other opioid drugs while preventing withdrawal symptoms. Properly administered, methadone is not intoxicating or sedating, and its effects do not interfere with ordinary daily activities. Methadone maintenance treatment is usually conducted in specialized opiate treatment programs. The most effective methadone maintenance programs include individual and/or group counseling, as well as provision of or referral to other needed medical, psychological, and social services.
Buprenorphine is a more recently approved treatment for heroin addiction (and other opiates). Compared with methadone, buprenorphine produces less risk for overdose and withdrawal effects and produces a lower level of physical dependence, so patients who discontinue the medication generally have fewer withdrawal symptoms than those who stop taking methadone. The development of buprenorphine and its authorized use in physicians’ offices give opiate-addicted patients more medical options and extend the reach of addiction medication. Its accessibility may even prompt attempts to obtain treatment earlier. However, not all patients respond to buprenorphine—some continue to require treatment with methadone.
For pregnant abusers, methadone maintenance combined with prenatal care and a comprehensive drug treatment program can improve many of the detrimental maternal and neonatal outcomes associated with untreated heroin abuse.
Call us today at 602.346.9142 for more information and please, don’t wait any longer, as things will get worse without treatment.