Heroin is an opioid drug derived from the seed pod of various types of poppy plants. Heroin comes in a white or brown powder as well as a black, sticky form. Opioids are a drug class that accounts for the highest percentage of people with addictions in the United States today. Heroin has other commonly used names that include “horse,” “hell dust,” and “smack,” and it is a highly addictive substance that oftentimes necessitates residential treatment to resolve.
Heroin Use and Addiction Statistics
In recent years, heroin use has increased. The increase has occurred among men and women alike and with people of nearly any demographic group. Over 490,000 people in the United States report using heroin at least once during the past year in the most recent research on the subject.
The rate of heroin fatal overdoses increased 500% between 2010 and 2017. Despite concerted efforts to combat the use of heroin and other opioids, medical experts have concluded that the use of opioids, including heroin, is at epidemic proportions.
How Do People Take Heroin?
Heroin users ingest the drug in a number of different ways:
Some heroin users mix heroin with other mind-altering substances. For example, when a person mixes heroin with crack or rock cocaine, the practice is known as “speed-balling.”
A Brief History of Heroin
A brief review of the history of heroin in the United States provides perspective about how and why people developed addictions to this drug. Initially developed in 1874 by a British chemist, heroin was first made commercially available by the Bayer Company.
Heroin is derived from poppy plants and is chemically similar to morphine. When Bayer introduced heroin to consumers in the United States in the late 1800s, the company marketing the drug as being a safe, nonaddictive alternative to morphine. In the later 19th and early 20th century, morphine addiction was a prevalent problem in the United States and elsewhere around the globe.
By 1924, the U.S. federal government made all use of heroin illegal. The government took this move because an alarming number of people in the country were addicted to the substance.
Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Addiction
There are a number of signs associated with substance use disorder and heroin addiction. Physically, people addicted to heroin will exhibit sleeping disorders as well as a marked change in weight. A person addicted to heroin will typically display a lack of attention to personal hygiene.
If heroin addiction persists, other profound physical issues can arise, such as:
- Collapsed veins
Because a considerable percentage of heroin users inject the drug, people with this type of addiction can end up with other health issues. With alarming regularity, people who inject heroin share needles. Consequently, different types of diseases pass between these individuals, including hepatitis and HIV.
Social signs of heroin addiction and other types of substance use disorder also exist. The most basic sign is a withdrawal from socializing with family and friends. In place of previously existing relationships, a person addicted to heroin replaces family and friends with others who use the drug and people who can supply heroin.
A person who has a heroin addiction will usually suffer emotional or psychological issues and conditions. This can include an array of different mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety.
An individual with heroin addiction is likely to experience and display financial problems as well. As more money goes to pay for heroin, less money is available to satisfy various financial obligations. In many cases, a person with a heroin addiction will end up unemployed.
Ultimately, an individual with a heroin addiction is highly likely to face legal issues. These run the gambit from lawsuits arising out of unpaid bills to criminal charges.
Signs of Heroin Overdose
People who use heroin run a definite risk of overdose, and a heroin overdose has a real potential for being fatal.
One of the most profound effects of heroin on a user’s body is a decrease in breathing. When heroin overdose occurs, a person’s breathing slows so significantly that unconsciousness results. Indeed, breathing can slow so severely that it stops completely. As a consequence, the most common sign of heroin overdose is shallow or stopped breathing.
A person who has overdosed on heroin is also likely to exhibit pinpoint pupils, dry mouth, weak pulse, and stomach spasms or cramping. A heroin overdose often results in bluish coloring to lips and fingernails. An individual in this state is also likely to exhibit a discolored tongue.
A person suffering from heroin overdose may experience delirium or confusion. Ultimately, a person who’s overdosed on heroin is likely to fall unconscious. That state can be followed by coma and then death.
The rate of the onset of overdose symptoms is often rapid. In some cases, heroin overdose can be fatal in a matter of minutes.
Substance Use Disorder and Heroin Addiction Treatment at Green Mountain Treatment Center
Nestled in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Green Mountain Treatment Center is a our flagship substance use disorder and addiction residential treatment center that provides comprehensive recovery and rehab services, including those battling a heroin addiction. Located in the peaceful community of Effingham, New Hampshire, Green Mountain Treatment Center is a comprehensive residential treatment facility that provides individualized rehab plans for each program participant.
Green Mountain Treatment Center is designed for men and women over the age 18. The gender-separate program is founded on a 12-step curriculum that is closely integrated with different types of evidence-based therapies.
Individualized case plans are crucial elements of treatment at Green Mountain Treatment Center. Each resident has a treatment team that includes dedicated case managers, master’s-level and licensed clinicians, and 12-step program facilitators.
Treatment modalities at Green Mountain Treatment Center include individual therapy together with group processes. The ultimate objective is to ascertain the causes that underpin a substance use disorder or heroin addiction.
In addition, residents at Green Mountain Treatment Center have access to different holistic therapies such as:
- Gym work, fitness, and exercise
Substance Use Disorder and Heroin Addiction Treatment at New Freedom Academy
Located in Canterbury, New Hampshire, New Freedom Academy is a small residential treatment center. New Freedom Academy provides comprehensive addiction recovery services to no more than 20 residents at a time.
With a medication-assisted treatment program, New Freedom Academy provides recovery assistance to people with different types of addictions, including women and men with heroin addictions. Medications can be a helpful resource in treating a heroin addiction.
New Freedom Academy also provides clinical psychotherapeutic support for its residents. Psychotherapeutic modalities include:
- Individual therapy
- Process groups
- Treatment for co-occurring mental disorders
- Motivational interviewing
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Grief and loss therapy
Treatment also includes holistic options. These include meditation, yoga, and exercise.
Individualized, comprehensive treatments plans are created for each of the residents at New Freedom Academy. The reality is that every individual with substance use disorder or an addiction experienced a different pathway that eventually resulted in entering treatment at New Freedom Academy. Thus, every resident has unique treatment, goals, and objectives.
Heroin Addiction and Medical Detox
Withdrawal from heroin use can be a particularly challenging endeavor. A person who stops using heroin can face a daunting and even dangerous withdrawal process. Significant emotional, psychological, and physical issues can arise during the heroin withdrawal process.
Both Green Mountain Treatment Center and New Freedom Academy provide medically supervised detox for people withdrawing from heroin and other mind-altering substances. Detox is monitored around the clock by caring, licensed medical professionals who are specifically trained in addiction medicine and recovery.
Heroin Addiction and Co-Occurring Mental Disorders
A high percentage of people with a heroin addiction also suffer from what is known as a co-occurring mental disorder. This type of situation is also known as a dual diagnosis.
In many cases, a person addicted to heroin suffers from a mental health condition like depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, PTSD, or some other issue. Individualized programs at Green Mountain Treatment Center and New Freedom Academy can be designed to address addiction and co-occurring mental disorders.
There are situations in which a co-occurring mental disorder predates an addiction. In that case, a person with a mental health issue turns to a mind-altering substance like heroin to self-medicate a mental health condition. In other cases, a person who uses a mind-altering substance like heroin develops a mental health disorder.
Heroin Addiction Treatment Success Rates
Residential addiction treatment like that offered by Green Mountain Treatment Center and New Freedom Academy has a higher success rate than alternatives like nonresidential programs. With that said, heroin addiction is an extreme form of substance use disorder. Addiction is a chronic condition similar to medical issues like diabetes, hypertension, or asthma. Consequently, there isn’t an absolute cure for heroin addiction.
The success of treatment is markedly enhanced if a person embarks on a comprehensive aftercare program following the residential phase of recovery. The clinical specialists at Green Mountain Treatment Center and New Freedom Academy work closely with residents to formulate and then implement a comprehensive aftercare program.
To that end, an aftercare program includes elements that are similar to what occurs in residential treatment. For example, a typical aftercare program is likely to include individual counseling, group counseling, and participation in a supportive group like Narcotics Anonymous.
Getting Professional Help for Heroin Addiction
If you or a loved one has a heroin addiction or some other type of substance use disorder, taking the step to enter a residential treatment center like Green Mountain Treatment Center or New Freedom Academy can be a life-altering course. Indeed, depending on your circumstances or that of your family member or friend, entering into a residential treatment program can be a life-saving decision.
The consequences of heroin use and abuse range from ruined relationships to poor physical health and a possible life-threatening overdose. Making the decision to begin a rehab program is the best thing you can do to get your life back on track. Caring professionals will help you understand what led to your addiction and provide tools for staying sober once you have completed treatment. Through individual and group therapy, you can work on repairing your relationships, your finances, your health, and other aspects of your life threatened by addiction. Professionals are ready to help you reclaim your health and wellness, so reach out to us today.