Heroin Addiction: Addiction to heroin is one of the most difficult to overcome. The withdrawal symptoms are agonizing, and the fear of detox often keeps addicts using. It is impossible to begin on the path to recovery without first addressing the intense physical addiction that comes with heroin abuse. It is paramount that the user finds a safe, controlled environment to detox. Without the comforts of receiving medications dispersed by a medical professional the temptation to use is far too great. Many heroin addicts have acquired a tolerance from continuous use which causes the addict to increase usage in order to avoid going into withdrawal. Breaking the cycle of using must be conquered in a facility where the addict feels understood and confident that he/she will not suffer.
Signs of Withdrawal: Withdrawal symptoms from heroin are excruciating and often times keep the addict using even when they’ve vowed to quit. They include, but are not limited to, sneezing, weakness, fever, anxiety, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle spasms. Withdrawal symptoms begin somewhere around eight to twelve hours after the last heroin use and increase in severity over two to three days. It takes the body a week to ten days to recover from the intense flu-like illness.
The Solution: Statistics show that heroin relapse is rampant, but it is not a requirement. A safe, comfortable detox is the first step to a life free of addiction. At Summer House there’s no need to be afraid of the unbearable withdrawal from heroin. Our professional staff has the medical qualifications and empathy to make this process easier. When an addict is physically addicted they don’t have a choice when it comes to using. Getting clean can feel like an insurmountable problem, but there is a solution. You’re not alone.
Heroin addiction is one of the most difficult addictions to overcome. The heroin abuser’s nervous system becomes accustomed to accommodating chronic exposure to the drug, which is an opioid. Therefore, during heroin detoxification excruciating withdrawal symptoms are ubiquitous. Withdrawal symptoms begin within 12 hours of not using and peak after two to four days. The symptoms include: nausea, anxiety, diarrhea, abdominal pain, insomnia, chills, sweating, sniffing, sneezing, weakness and irritability. Even though there have been improvements in medically supervised heroin detoxification, patient discomfort and high dropout rates exist today. This has led to the growth of ultra-rapid, anesthesia-assisted opioid withdrawal procedures, which have been publicized as a fast, painless way to withdraw from opioid. Studies have also shown however, that the procedure can lead to risk of death, psychosis, increased stress, delirium, attempted suicide, abnormal heart rhythm and acute renal failure.
Francis Moraes wrote in The Little Book of Heroin, that there are three important brain chemicals or neurotransmitters that relate to heroin. First, dopamine helps to control human appetites for both food and sex. If a person has large quantities of dopamine they are considered out-going and exuberant. Persons who suffer with Parkinson’s disease and depression are said to have too little dopamine. On the other hand, people suffering from schizophrenia have too much. Heroin causes a release of dopamine. Second, norepinephrin controls the sympathetic nervous system: nerves of the body that cannot be voluntarily controlled. This neurotransmitter stabilizes blood pressure so that it does not get too low. The brain’s release of norepinephrin stimulates the fight or flight response. But heroin suppresses the middle part of the brain called the locus coeruleus and therefore provides the user with feelings of safety and contentment. Third, endorphines, which are morphine-like chemicals, used by the body to modulate mood, promote pleasure, and manage reactions to stress. These three chemicals are exaggerated or heightened by heroin use.
Withdrawal symptoms continue to be the greatest obstacle in heroin detoxification treatment. Studies concur that there is no proof that one detoxification treatment is better than another. Relapses continue to occur in numerous cases around the world therefore making heroin detoxification a monster of an addiction. Statistics show that the average heroin addict will stop and start detox 10 to 25 times in their lifetime relapsing to heroin use every time.
Heroin detoxification involves admitting there is a problem, seeking medical help, staying focused on the goal and rehabilitation and treatment through a continuing program. All facts conclude that there is no easy cure nor guarantee that relapse will not occur. The determination of the patient and support through family, friends, physicians or other sources must accompany the detoxification process.