Understanding Heroin Addiction and How to Fight It
The heroin epidemic wouldn’t be an epidemic if recovery was easy. Overcoming an addiction to heroin is a challenge, but it can be done. Learn more about the origins of a heroin addiction and what steps you can take to fight it. Recovery is possible, and getting informed is the first step toward sobriety.
Signs and Symptoms of a Heroin Addiction
In order to treat a heroin addiction, it first has to be acknowledged. First, there is no safe way to use heroin. If the drug is being consumed in any capacity, then it is also being abused. There is no way around this fact.
If you are personally struggling with the issue of addiction, there are some things to consider. Are you dominated by thoughts of heroin consumption? Is finding and using the drug the most important thing in your life?
Answering yes to these questions is a clear signal of addiction. Heroin is so addictive that it can override any other responsibilities or obligations. Everything, including financial stability and family relationships, will take a backseat to drug use.
There are also countless physical, emotional and psychological symptoms of a heroin addiction. Many individuals who struggle with heroin addiction suffer from these symptoms behind closed doors. However, some symptoms are obvious. This helps loved ones spot an addiction and seek out the necessary treatment.
Heroin users might complain of a dry mouth, or they might have flushed skin constantly. It is also common for heroin users to nod off out of the blue or have a very strange sleeping pattern. A heroin addiction might also be spotted thanks to signs like tiny pupils, a constantly runny nose, regularly slurred speech or failing to continue with normal grooming and hygiene habits.
The Development of a Heroin Addiction
One question without a satisfactory answer is why people develop heroin addictions at all. One thing is abundantly clear. Just trying heroin one time can lead to addiction. As many as 23 percent of those who try heroin just once will eventually struggle with an opiate addiction. Other factors that can lead to the development of a heroin addiction may include the over-prescription of opioid painkillers, environment, genetic components, personality type and mental health.
Many of the people who struggle with a heroin addiction first struggled with an addiction to prescription opiates. This is an important fact to remember. Not all those who abuse heroin do so because they are curious about the drug. Often, their bodies are already dependent on opiates.
Prescription opiates are chemically similar to heroin, and addicts can sometimes replace one with the other. Even if a doctor prescribes an opioid drug, users can still become addicted. If the prescription medication isn’t affordable or easily accessible, patients might turn instead to heroin.
Genetic predisposition can also impact the development of a drug addiction. There is evidence suggesting that some individuals are genetically more likely to get addicted to certain substances after trying them. This helps explain why addiction can seemingly run in families.
Mental health is another critical aspect to consider. Those with mental illnesses are more likely to feel the need to self-medicate using drugs or alcohol. This makes them more prone to both trying heroin and becoming addicted. That’s why treating a heroin addiction has to include some form of treatment for mental health issues at the same time.
The Process of Overcoming an Addiction to Heroin
Heroin addiction is widely considered one of the most difficult addictions to break. Although that may be true, recovery is still absolutely possible. However, it simply can’t be done solo. It takes experience, knowledge and around-the-clock support to make a meaningful recovery from a heroin addiction.
The very first step in treating a heroin addiction is acknowledging it. Prospective patients and their loved ones need to identify and recognize the addiction as a disease that requires treatment.
Then, individuals will need to complete a heroin detox. This detox is when heroin consumption stops altogether. A heroin detox usually lasts for around a week, and it often includes a number of unpleasant or uncomfortable side effects.
Just some of the most common heroin detox symptoms can include nausea, diarrhea, sweating, muscle spasms and shaking. Fortunately, these symptoms end when detox is complete. Medical detox is necessary because patients should have 24/7 medical attention throughout the withdrawal process. Otherwise, even mild symptoms could result in lasting health problems.
After detox, patients will benefit from a drug addiction treatment program. This program can be inpatient or outpatient, but it should always focus on addressing the key issues that lead to addiction.
Beyond Detox–Ending the Relapse Cycle for Good
In the world of addiction treatment, there is a cycle that should be avoided. This is the cycle of quick treatment, relapse and then further treatment. It doesn’t benefit patients in any meaningful way, and it can even put people off from seeking help in the future. Instead, lasting treatment that goes beyond just detox is critical.
A major goal of heroin addiction treatment should be relapse prevention. Relapse is the biggest threat to recovery, but it is hardly ever addressed during detox. It is only in treatment that patients can start to really understand what causes relapse and how to prevent it.
In treatment, patients can have the chance to identify their relapse triggers. Then, they can come up with coping mechanisms to handle this stress.
In addition, patients who need dual diagnosis treatment can get the appropriate mental health care. If mental illness is the cause of a heroin addiction, then a full recovery won’t be possible until it is addressed. Group and individual therapy can be helpful, with behavioral therapy like DBT or CBT often being great choices.
With comprehensive care that addresses all aspects of health and relapse risk, full and lasting recovery is more likely for patients.
Fighting an addiction to heroin isn’t always easy, but the right treatment can make all the difference for new life, free from addiction.