Heroin addiction

Heroin (Diacetylmorphine) is a semi-synthetic opioid processed from Morphine. Heroin is an illegal and highly addictive substance with a strongly pronounced euphoric effect. It is the most abused opiate nowadays.

Heroin was synthesized in 1874, and initially and ironically was used to treat morphine addiction. Nowadays Heroin is known as the most destructive and painful addiction in the world that damages both the body and psyche. Yet heroin addiction is a reversible condition, recovery can be a lifelong process.

Forms. Pure heroin is a white powder with a bitter taste. Street heroin is rarely pure. Street heroin varies in color from pure white to dark brown due to added impurities: milk sugar, powdered milk, or quinine. The black form of the drug known as “black tar” is mostly produced in Mexico. The other largest producers of heroin are Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Columbia.

Routes of administration. Heroin can be injected, snorted or smoked. All three forms of administration are addictive. Many users begin using heroin in inhaled form, and then switch to intravenous injections as the tolerance to heroin grows up. Injections provide the fastest rush and the strongest euphoric effect within seconds. In case of snorting or smoking the effects of heroin are usually felt within 15-20 minutes without producing the rush. Desire to feel the rush pushes the heroin users toward injecting as a matter of course.

Psychological dependence. Heroin addiction starts with a debilitating, devastating dependency on recreational drug use. From a chemical standpoint, the addiction can be explained by diminished ability of the user’s brain to produce sufficient amount of endogenous opiates due to the constant presence of opiates being artificially pumped into the body. Despite the all negative consequences, the heroin users feel unable to break out of claws of addiction. Heroin causes strong physical and mental dependence, takes control of the mind and the body.

The drug becomes for heroin addicts the way to experience something positive in their lives. They quickly separate the world into two groups: the people with whom they use heroin and the people who are out of drugs. Their world quickly is getting narrowed to the point of obtaining and use the drug. Everything else becomes senseless. They become impatient, irritable and hostile.

They are often depressed. They push people including the family members away by constant arguments and are getting angry for no apparent reason. Struggling with addiction make them feel ashamed, weak and disgusted by themselves. Those abusing heroin very soon loose their job and have serious financial problems. In order to get money for the drug they steal from the family, friends, business. They are easily getting involved in certain kinds of illegal behavior.

Heroin Effects

Euphoria. One of the reasons which makes heroin so addictive is the ability to produce a rather dramatic “rush” or “high.” The rush has been described close to that of orgasm and lasts from few seconds to a minute. Similar to sexual release, the rush provides a release of tension for the user. After the initial “rush” wears off, the following state can be described as something between drowsy and alert. This state is called being “on the nod”. Heroin is a depressant. Due to sedative effect on central nervous system, the user experiences the feeling of pleasant heaviness, as though the body is wrapped in a cotton wool.

The user feels distant from the events around him. Co-ordination and concentration are reduced. Speech becomes slurred and slow. Judgment is clouded for several hours after a dose. Any problems or stresses the user may have in life seem very far away during that time. This state can be described as a state of a strong feeling of well-being, extreme inner comfort or deep satisfaction.

Other immediate effects. Heroin slows down the central nervous system activity. Particularly important conditions in this term (in case of greater doses or overdose they may become life-threatening) are: impaired respiratory functions (shallow and slow breathing), decreased blood pressure and slowed down heart rate. The other symptoms are also likely to occur: constricted pupils, dry mouth, suppressed cough reflex, nausea, vomiting, sweating, itching, reduced sexual drive.

Long term effects of heroin addiction. The long term effects from use of heroin can be devastating, especially if an addict continues abusing the drug without seeking medical help. There are physical, mental and social negative consequences of addiction to heroin. Over a lengthy period of time, heroin addicts develops a number of physical problems which include: serious immune deficit; vulnerability to all kind of infection diseases (HIV/AIDS, TB, Hepatitis B and C); liver, respiratory, heart problems; collapsed veins, nasty skin abscesses, vein thrombosis; chronic constipation; menstrual irregularity, infertility in women, impotence in men; poor nutritional habits, weight loss; intense emotional disorders and cognitive impairment.

Heroin addiction is very detrimental, but curable disease. Physical and mental dependence on heroin is so strong that almost no person can break the cycle of addiction on his own. Professional medical help, complex and continuous treatment is needed.

There are few Heroin Treatment options, which include:

  • medical opioid detoxication and psychologicall addiction treatment;
  • long term Naltrexone programs;
  • counseling, including 12 steps group therapy;
  • opiate replacement therapy.

Our clinic doesn’t support the idea of Methadone therapy, regarding it in most cases as a banal trading of one type of opioid addiction for another one, even more addictive. However, in some cases we admit use of Suboxone therapy under strict medical observation as an effective way to overwhelm heroin addiction.

Regarding other methods of heroin treatment, we are absolutely convinced that recovery from addiction to heroin can be achieved only through safe, effective and secure way of using the complex treatment programs where drug detoxification, mental dependence treatment, long term naltrexone treatment and counseling programs are mandatory included.