Heroin (Diacetylmorphine) is an opioid narcotic drug that is produced from a morphine alkaloid contained in opium. It is twice as strong as morphine, and is highly addictive. Heroin is classified as a schedule I controlled substance, which means it has a very high potential for abuse and addiction. If you or someone you love suffers from a heroin addiction, the treatment professionals at Saint Paul Drug Treatment Centers can help, call today at (612) 643-5043 for more information.
One reason for the increase in the popularity of heroin is mentioned in a report by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). The report indicated that this drug has replaced other opiates (prescription medications) which are becoming more default to obtain and more costly as well. This drug is now easier to obtain and far cheaper, as well as having a higher level of purity. This purity level allows users to get the same results from smoking and snorting as they would by injecting.
In order for users to experience the euphoric rush and sense of well-being that they get from heroin, use increases. As a result, tolerance and dependence develops quickly. Heroin reverts to morphine once it goes to the brain. It then binds to opioid receptor molecules and blocks the perception of pain, increasing the effects in the reward center in the brain. Cravings are very intense. It has also been said that cravings will continue for years after use has suspended.
Heroin has most commonly been used by injection. The injection method creates the most intense effect. However, due to the newer samples that are more pure it is becoming easier to also snort, smoke, be taken orally, and used in the form of a suppository.
This drug is normally sold in powder form. Pure heroin is cut with other substances such as powdered milk, sugar, starch, and deadly substances such quinine and even the poison strychnine. It is most often cut with other drugs such as fentanyl. These potentially lethal drugs in combination are responsible for overdose and rising deaths all across the country.
In addition to the euphoric surge, users experience a warm flushing, dry mouth, and the sensation of their limbs being very heavy. The drug strongly impacts the central nervous system and depresses mental functions and causes confused thinking. Periods of wakefulness and drowsiness are also common effects seen in heroin use.
Heroin damages organs and systems throughout the body. Some effects will subside after withdrawal and detoxification, but others may be permanent. Diseases such as liver disease and kidney disease are seen in addition to other effects. Memory loss is common. Infections and abscesses, diseased gums, a weakened immune system, and respiratory illness plague heroin addicts.
Treatment for heroin addiction includes a wide range of therapies such as behavioral therapy, pharmacological treatment, psychological counseling, group sessions, individual counseling, family counseling and more. Treatment is available on an inpatient and outpatient basis. Addiction to heroin may actually be best treated by a mixture of inpatient, residential, and outpatient methods.
The process of detox and withdrawal can potentially be life-threatening and is best achieved as an inpatient under supervised medical care. Residential programs that allow the patient to live in a supervised living situation with other recovering addicts may be the next step considered, followed by a medically supervised outpatient program. Heroin withdrawal is a long-term process. Symptoms can take several months to subside.