Heroin Addiction Treatment

Table of Contents

Heroin is an extremely addictive substance. Dependence can occur almost immediately. For those looking to quit heroin, withdrawal can be painful and even dangerous. But, what is heroin, and why is it so addictive?

What is Heroin?

Heroin is an opiate that is recreationally used and quickly becomes addictive. At one point in time, heroin was unpopular, but unfortunately that’s no longer the story. In recent years heroin has become a popular drug of choice. Researchers and industry professionals believe its popularity is a direct result of increasingly strong regulations when it comes to opioid painkillers.

Although only about 2% of the population consider themselves to be regular heroin users, the sheer number of people that use is astounding – approximately 900,000 people in the United States, according to a recent study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – of that, a staggering 690,000 consider themselves to be addicted. What’s worse is the number of people who die each year due to overdose. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), heroin-related deaths have increased by nearly 300% since 2013. Further studies suggest that most heroin users were originally hooked on other opiates, including Vicodin and Fentanyl. These distressing facts prove that heroin is an extremely addictive and dangerous substance that even recreational users can develop a tolerance, dependence and addiction to. sd

If you believe that a loved one, or even yourself, may be addicted to heroin, help is available now. Although heroin addiction is a terrible disease, it is treatable, even for those with heavy and long term dependence.


What are the Symptoms of Heroin Addiction?

With heroin addiction, as with any other substance addiction, symptoms display differently with different people, however, there are certain things you can look out for if you suspect that you or someone you know is addicted. We’ll break these symptoms up into the following categories: signs of heroin use and physical/mental symptoms of heroin use.

Signs and Symptoms of Use

An individual currently using and/or abusing Heroin may show the following signs of heroin use:

Keep in mind, heroin can be snorted, smoked, taken orally, or injected. Meaning, when you’re looking for signs of addiction you’re looking for evidence of smoking, snorting, etc. The signs in this list will make sense when you think about the ways that heroin is delivered into the body.

  • Spoons with burn marks or a sticky residue inside
  • Bottle caps lying around that have burn marks or a sticky residue or cotton inside 
  • Syringes
  • Small, cutoff straws
  • Rolled up dollar bills 
  • Tie-off equipment, including hoses, pipes, and belts
  • Bloodstains in places like bathrooms and/or bedrooms 
  • Bleach Stains in places like bathrooms and/or bedrooms 
  • Bandages used to cover injection sites
  • The use of long sleeve shirts during hot summer months or when the person wouldn’t normally wear one  

An individual currently using and/or abusing Heroin may show the following physical/mental symptoms of heroin use:

  • Tiny, constricted pupils 
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Slowed speech
  • Slurred speech
  • A flushed or red-looking face
  • Frequent nausea
  • Frequent diarrhea
  • Track marks at the injection site; this could mean the arms, thighs, legs, fingers, or neck  

Most of the time, heroin users seem “different” once recreational use moves to tolerance, dependence, and finally addiction. You might notice changes in the person’s demeanor, personality, hygiene, motivation, and lifestyle. They may no longer be interested in the things that once made them happy, like hobbies and relationships with family and friends. Perhaps they were always extremely hygienic and now, suddenly, bathing becomes painful and difficult for them to manage. If a loved one is using, or you suspect that they are using, approaching them with love and respect is always the best bet. Often, the only way you’ll find out they’re using is by looking for signs and symptoms, because getting someone to talk about their addiction and admit it to you is too difficult. Always pay attention, act gently, and speak in a non-judgemental, respectful way that lets them know you are there to help.


What is Heroin Withdrawal like?

Heroin withdrawal can be severe and that’s why it’s always suggested that a person going through withdrawal seek help from a medical professional. To deal with the pain of withdrawal and some of the most severe mental complications, medically assisted detox is very popular. Buprenorphine is often prescribed for withdrawal. 

Here is a timetable of what to expect during heroin withdrawal:

  • The first 6 to 12 hours are especially difficult, mentally. This is when the early onset of withdrawal begins. Users start to experience anxiety and cravings at this stage. Some addicts find relief in exercise, specific foods, and bathing.  
  • Day 1 to 4 is when withdrawal symptoms increase. The user will begin to sweat and have extreme feelings of fatigue. They may vomit or have diarrhea. Days 1 to 4 is also when fever may set in and when chills, muscle aches, insomnia, and anxiety get worse. In the most severe examples, addicts may face tremors and muscle spasms during this time. 
  • Day 5 to 14 is when symptoms linger for a while and then eventually decrease, usually. For long term users, this period may last for a month or months as opposed to weeks.

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction treatment looks different for different people. Some common treatment options include, group therapy, counseling, and behavioral therapy. These treatments are often combined with mindfulness strategies, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other therapies meant to help the primary therapy. Those who get treatment learn to build skills, cope with their issues, and manage stress effectively. There is also a focus on relapse prevention and finding the route causes of addiction.


Virtual Treatment Center: Who Are We?

At Virtual Treatment Center, we believe quality addiction recovery and mental health services should be easily accessible to those that want or need them, because ease of accessibility is what most often leads to success. That’s why we’re committed to providing top-tier virtual mental health teletherapy and addiction recovery services to all residents of California. Although we’re located in Orange County, our online teletherapy can be accessed throughout the state. In addition to providing addiction recovery services, we treat a variety of mental health issues and offer Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT). Our teletherapy sessions are done via two-way, live interactive video or by telephone. Therapeutic visits are conducted on Zoom most often, or on other virtual platforms that adhere to HIPAA compliance requirements.


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