Serious problems manifest in the brain and body of heroin users. The immune system is in danger, plus heart and respiratory complications are common. More on the effects of heroin here.
How can you know good addiction treatment from the bad? More here on the basics of heroin addiction treatment: assessment, help through detox, medical supervision, effective aftercare AND the individualized human element behind care.
Yes, you can get addicted to heroin. More here on heroin’s addiction liability and how you get addicted in the first place.
Detoxing from heroin does not need to be severe or uncomfortable. But you increase your risk of relapse when you detox from heroin on your own. More on the protocols used during clinical heroin detox, as well as time, symptoms, and their treatment here.
People who use heroin regularly can develop dependence on heroin quickly. More on how the body adapts to the presence of heroin in the system here.
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What is heroin dependence?
Heroin dependence occurs when your body adapts to the presence of heroin and cannot operate normally without it. In fact, people who are heroin dependent use heroin just to feel normal. However, the main characteristic for heroin dependence is the presence of heroin withdrawal symptoms when doses drop significantly or stop completely. If you are using heroin and find it impossible to stop without experience withdrawal, you have become physically dependent on heroin.
How to know if you are dependent on heroin?
Heroin dependency elicits very strong physical symptoms. However, physical drug dependence can also be accompanied by psychological dependence on a drug (addiction). In generally, a person who is dependent on heroin may exhibit symptoms such as:
- Acknowledgement of the negative effects of heroin, but feeling powerless to reduce or stop its use.
- Changing your daily schedule at work, home or school to accommodate heroin use.
- Losing control over heroin use; you use more than you intended to or feel powerless when cravings start.
- The need to take more heroin more often just to feel the same initial effect (increased tolerance).
- Triggered heroin withdrawal symptoms when heroin intake is reduced or stopped.
How to end heroin dependence?
If you are dependent on heroin, you need help from others. Getting heroin out of your system (and life) on your own is difficult to impossible. The moment you cut your heroin use, you will immediately feel ill from withdrawal symptoms and cravings kick in. This is the main reason heroin users need professional help to address dependence.
The main heroin addiction treatment method used to address heroin dependence varies according to the severity of your case . Initial visits will consist of laboratory tests to check for blood borne infections like HIV and hepatitis, and assess the status of your cardiovascular system. Once your health status is assessed, the actual heroin recovery program (the detox) will begin.
The actual heroin detox program (and possible addiction) is planned by a medical professional, and you’ll be continuously assessed throughout the process. Acute heroin detox treatment may consist of administering medicines (termed ‘heroin antagonists’) such as methadone, buprenorphine or long-acting naltrexone. Each drug has its own advantages and disadvantages, which are carefully assessed and weighed by the doctor to make ensure your compliance and well-being. In addition, non-drug therapy such as counseling and joining help groups can assist heroin detox therapy.
Relapse after detox therapy is always a possibility. Medical professionals know and anticipate this during heroin detox treatment. So if you experience relapse after heroin dependence detox, it is always a good idea return to treatment for help.