Everlast Recovery

Heroin Addiction

Heroin has made headlines for years due to the opioid epidemic that has caused many deaths from overdose. However, we want you to know that people can recover from heroin addiction. Those who participate in 12-Step recovery, and other recovery support programs can testify that despite heroin’s ability to ruin lives and even cause death, people can recover from their addiction and lead happy lives free from addiction. 

Heroin acts on opioid receptors in the brain, but because it activates them much more than average, it causes pleasure signals and activates the brain’s reward systems. Because heroin acts so powerfully on these systems, substance abuse can develop and over time become severe.

What is Heroin?

Part of what makes heroin dangerous is how it works. A human-made substance, it comes from morphine taken from opium poppies. People use heroin by injecting, snorting, or smoking it. Many heroin users prefer injecting it because this method delivers the substance straight to the bloodstream. In the blood, the body converts heroin back into morphine. This means the two substances have very similar effects on the body and work in the same way. 

Heroin attaches to receptors in your brain sensitive to opioids. When stimulated, these activate a reward cycle that produces pleasurable feelings. The experience also activates memory centers, building an association between the substance and the enjoyable brain chemical activity. The more often a person uses and feels pleasure from using heroin, the stronger the association between heroin and positive emotions. 

When opioids like heroin bind to receptors in the brain, they cause effects like drowsiness, low blood pressure, loss of consciousness and can cause people to stop breathing. However, medications can now reverse the effect of heroin on the brain and reverse overdose symptoms.

People have opioid receptors through the body, and heroin activates all of them. Along with pleasurable chemical activity in the brain, heroin can have other effects. Short-term symptoms of heroin use might include:

Although not all people will experience the long-term effects of heroin use, some of the symptoms of long-term use are:

Many of these long-term consequences result from injecting heroin. Reused and unsanitary needles can spread HIV, Hep B, and Hep C infections. Fortunately, some areas have begun needle exchange or dispensing programs where people can obtain clean, sterile needles. Programs like this serve as part of harm reduction protocols.

How is Heroin Addiction Treated?

Many of these long-term consequences result from injecting heroin. Reused and unsanitary needles can spread HIV, Hep B, and Hep C infections. Fortunately, some areas have begun needle exchange or dispensing programs where people can obtain clean, sterile needles. Programs like this serve as part of harm reduction protocols.

For a person with heroin use disorder to begin treatment, they need to stop using heroin. Not only will arresting use cause withdrawal symptoms, but it may be dangerous. 

The receptors in the brain have gotten used to having opioids around to trigger their calming effects, so without heroin, they must return to a normal state. Instead of calming and sedating signals, the brain and body experience symptoms like muscle cramps, anxiety, restlessness, and diarrhea. 

At Everlast, during the detoxification process, our doctor will evaluate the client and most likely prescribe medication to help lessen withdrawal symptoms and substance cravings while the person’s brain and body adjust to not having heroin in the system.

Detox

Doctors often prescribe medication during detox so clients can be more comfortable and less at risk of complications. Some people only use these medications during the detox process. 

Others may begin a longer-term program of medication-assisted treatment (MAT). 

One treatment option, methadone, gets dispensed daily to patients at special facilities. Taking the medication by mouth helps prevent people from feeling the pleasant effects of using but still provides relief from urges to use. 

Another option is buprenorphine, a medication that acts on the opioid receptors and prevents urges to use. It also stops the receptors from working as well, so people will not feel as much enjoyment if they choose to use heroin again. 

Naloxone acts as an antagonist, which means it will kick heroin off the opioid receptors and block it from reattaching. This can combine with buprenorphine to make it more effective. People can receive it as an injection that they receive monthly. After the medication is injected, it blocks opioids from working. Naloxone is another medication administered to save lives in the case of a heroin overdose.

Medication

How Does Everlast Treat Heroin Addiction?

Everlast Recovery Centers provides clinically appropriate medications during detox as prescribed by our doctor. People in our program might also stay on a MAT program. However, our ultimate goal is to help people reach complete abstinence from substances, but we treat each client individually and we are careful to consider each client’s unique needs. 

In our residential treatment program, people receive various therapy sessions throughout the day, that range from relapse prevention to life skills.

Our holistic, trauma-informed treatment methods make sure our clients with a heroin use disorder have the tools to prevent them from relapse. 

Successful recovery from heroin addiction is possible with Everlast. Our facility equips people with the coping skills they can use after treatment. When you choose Everlast for your heroin addiction, you choose healing and lasting recovery.