How to Recognize and Treat Heroin Addiction
A heroin addiction is a horrible thing and trying to treat it includes a lot of therapy, professional help, medication, support groups, and patience. But, before all of that, you need to learn how to recognize the addiction before it is too late.
So, how do you recognize a heroin addiction?
Heroin has incredibly high addiction potential and is the prime example of a slippery slope that takes you from use, over the abuse and straight to addiction. Therefore, it is really important to notice if somebody you care about is a heroin addict so that you can help that person seek help.
Some heroin addicts prefer using a needle to inject heroin as it allegedly gives the most instant gratification. However, those who do that usually have their drug use equipment and tend to hide it in their rooms. The things to look for are a bowl to dissolve heroin, something to soak it up (most commonly it is cotton), and needles to inject it.
Using opioids such as heroin leads to pupil constriction to the size of a pin. It is a very common sign of drug abuse and should be taken seriously. On the other hand, if a person is going through withdrawal from heroin, their pupils will be dilated.
One of the effects heroin has on their users is a complete lack of focus and hardship with coherence. Heroin addicts will commonly nod out and, with eyes open or closed, would seem like they are sleeping. They will have troubles keeping up with the conversation and will sometimes completely forget what happened during the time they were nodding out.
When a person starts using heroin, they rarely shoot up as, for a new user, heroin is a rather cheap substance. However, once their bodies adapt and get used to the addiction, they will need more and more heroin to get the same high, which leads to heroin being incredibly expensive. A lot of addicts will then turn to needles, as that greatly reduces the amount of heroin needed to get the same gratification levels. The areas that you need to aware of when trying to see if there are track marks are insides of the elbows, behind the knees, and, if you expect them to be sneaky about it, between their toes.
Heroin addicts find it difficult to focus on anything that is not heroin-related. They will spend less time with their family and friends, drop their hobbies and will show no interest in the news around them. They will also be a lot more selfish and not pay attention to anybody else’s problems.
Since heroin causes physical addiction, going without heroin, even for a brief period of time, can cause serious withdrawal symptoms like nausea, heavy sweating, and feeling of pain in their bones and muscles.
So, once you have noticed the signs and confronted them about their addiction, it is the time to start treating it. But, how?
The first step when battling any kind of addiction is detox. However, detoxing from heroin is an ordeal that should not be taken lightly; it can cause horrible pain and last for weeks, so it is recommended of having a help of a physician who can both monitor the patient and give him medication to minimize discomfort.
It is not enough to just force the addict to quit heroin as drug abuse commonly stems from underlying issues that led them to heroin. Mental issues can lead to addiction and vice versa, and therapy could really be useful when it comes to handling the depression many addicts suffer from.
There are a lot of rehabilitation programs that offer help to addicts, but they do not fall under “one size fits all” ideology so you should definitely spend some time finding the best one for the loved one you are trying to help. One of the things you will need to decide is whether or not they can go through outpatient rehab which allows the patient to maintain a semblance of a normal life, go to work and live at their home. However, this is only a good idea for those with mild addictions which are rare with heroin addicts. Most probably, for recovery, you will need to choose inpatient rehabilitation. Being separated from the world helps eliminate any of the outside factors that can force a person to relapse.
Your physician might recommend the use of medical management to help fight cravings and thus prevent future use. He could prescribe the use of buprenorphine or methadone, which both have a similar, but limited effect to heroin itself (with methadone being stronger and potentially dangerous), naltrexone which blocks opioid receptors and thus prevents heroin from actually having an effect and lastly, Suboxone, which is a combination of the former two types of treatments.
And remember, what they need from you the most is the emotional support to help them get through the ordeal of quitting heroin.
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