Heroin is a potent and highly addictive opioid analgesic widely taken for its euphoric qualities. Long-term heroin use often leads to tolerance and heroin addiction, with a severe physical withdrawal syndrome experienced upon cessation of use. Heroin addiction can be dangerous and even fatal in certain situations. With a heroin addiction, health problems can develop from intravenous administration while a range of social, financial and legal problems can also occur. The long-term consequences of a heroin addiction can change lives, with detox and rehabilitation treatment often required to break the bonds of addiction. Call now at (919) 424-5711 and explore your options with Raleigh Drug Treatment Centers.
Heroin is also known as diacetylmorphine, morphine diacetate or diamorphine. Originally synthesized in 1874, it was created by adding two acetyl groups to the naturally occurring molecule morphine. Also known by its street names of H, smack and horse among others, heroin can be smoked or injected intravenously. Heroin addiction can develop quickly as it is two to four times more potent than morphine and other opioids. While heroin does have some legitimate medical uses for the treatment for acute pain, it is not used medically in the United States. The vast majority of heroin use is recreational in nature, with people taking the drug for its intense euphoric effects. Heroin users experience an intense rush as the drug is metabolized into 6-monoacetylmorphine (6-MAM) and morphine in the brain, with the intravenous administration of heroin only adding to its effects.
The withdrawal syndrome from heroin normally begins 6-24 hours after the last dose, with the extent and length of withdrawal dependent on the length and extent of addiction. The withdrawal period is physical-somatic in nature, with emotional-motivational symptoms also likely as people adjust to life without the drug. Common early symptoms include sweating, malaise, anxiety, depression, akathisia, priapism, heaviness, sensitivity, yawning, sneezing, insomnia, tears, rhinorrhea, cold sweats, chills, muscle aches and pains, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and involuntary body movements. Involuntary body movements and spasms vary in intensity when withdrawing from a heroin addiction. This particular symptom thought to be the origin of the term "kicking the habit".
Detoxification normally refers to the process and experience of a withdrawal syndrome, with medications and medical support integral to the process. Detox can also refer to intervention in the case of overdose, with an opioid antagonist normally prescribed in the case of heroin overdose. Naloxone and naltrexone are often used to treat heroin overdose cases, which can be incredibly dangerous and fatal if not treated swiftly. Opioid antagonist drugs have a high affinity for opioid receptors without activating them, reversing the effects of heroin and causing an immediate return of consciousness. Heroin overdoses often occur due to an unexpected increase in purity, with relapsing users also overdosing because of diminished opioid tolerance. Fatalities also occur due to drug interactions, with other central nervous (CNS) depressants such as benzodiazepines and alcohol especially dangerous.
Opioid replacement therapy, also known as opioid substitution therapy, is used to treat long-term heroin addicts and those patients resistant to other forms of treatment. This form of therapy involves the long-term prescription of legal opioids as a replacement for heroin. Methadone and buprenorphine are the most commonly used medications, with these drugs lasting longer than heroin but producing a less intense euphoric effect. While opioid replacement therapy has been widely criticized for enabling secondary opioid addictions, it is an effective method of harm reduction. In practice, 40-65 percent of patients who receive opioid replacement therapy maintain complete abstinence from heroin, with 70-95 percent able to reduce their use significantly. This form of therapy helps addicts to live safer and more productive lives, by reducing the medical, psychosocial and legal complications that often arise from heroin use. Discover options for programs and rehab centers by calling Raleigh Drug Treatment Centers at (919) 424-5711.