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heroin rehab

Heroin, as one of the most highly addictive substances, is perhaps the hardest drug to come clean from. This is why at Rehab 4 Addiction, we offer high-standard heroin detox and heroin rehab programmes to help those struggling break free from this addiction.

Heroin is a potent opiate that traps victims in its powerful grip. Heroin addiction has wiped out entire communities throughout the world from Glasgow to Karachi. The personal tragedies behind its use reach far and wide. Heroin rehab exists to help you or your loved one overcome this powerful and life-threatening condition.

What is Meant by ‘Heroin Addiction’?

Heroin is a synthetic drug, which is closely related to the strong painkiller Morphine – however, heroin is stronger and even more addictive.

This drug is so attractive to an addict because it alters the chemicals in the brain, leading to a state of relaxation and utter euphoria. Heroin is also a strong painkiller, so it can mask health symptoms that need to be dealt with promptly.

Those who use heroin for long periods will build up a tolerance to the drug, meaning that it takes more and more to get the same effect, leading to full-blown addiction.

Once one is dependent on the drug it is a very small step to full-blown addiction, where users need the drug in their system to function and have a fear of the withdrawal effects.

People close to users can notice signs of addiction, as it may change the personality and cause users to be hostile, and to try to hide their addiction. Physical signs include shortness of breath, constricted pupils, and tell-tale “track lines” on the arms where a user is injecting.

Then there is the equipment used to inject heroin – the burned spoons, homemade tourniquets, and syringes should alert most people that there is a problem.

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How Does Heroin Addiction Arise?

It can be hard to know why someone starts using heroin. Especially as most of us know that it is a truly damaging, highly addictive drug. There may be specific things that cause one person more likely to become an addict than another:

If you have grown up around drug users, whether that be close family or friends, or you live in an area where drug use is common and accepted, you are far more likely to head down the path of addiction that someone who has not been exposed to these things

Those who suffer from various mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and others may be more likely to become addicted to heroin.

This drug can mask existing symptoms, and make the user forget about them for a while - or simply make them feel happy so they are not as affected by their symptoms on a daily basis

There is a theory that suggests those who seek out addictive drugs may not have the same amount of naturally produced endorphins.

Endorphins are the "feel good" chemicals released in the brain when we do something we enjoy, and so they feel the need for additional "happy" feelings - even those provided by a rather scary substance.

As well as being more likely to try drugs if you are surrounded by them, it is thought that there may even be a genetic predisposition to certain addiction. If you have a close family member who used drugs, statistically you are far more likely to go down that path yourself, even if you have seen the damage it can cause

Signs & Symptoms of Heroin Addiction

Below is a list of some of the most common signs of heroin use and addiction. Physical evidence may include:

  • Foil wrappers with burn marks
  • Burned silver spoons
  • Small plastic bags with remnants of white powder
  • Shoelaces being used for tourniquets
  • Needles and syringes

There are also a few less obvious signs that relate to the person’s behaviour, which stems from the desire to hide their drug addiction and the need to continue using.

These may include:

  • Stealing or borrowing money
  • Lying about the need for said money
  • Lying about their plans and whereabouts
  • Withdrawing from social circles, friends, and family
  • Poor performance at work, or losing a job – Sleeping a lot more
  • A lack of personal hygiene
  • Suddenly wearing long sleeves even in hot weather, to hide needle marks

What are the Consequences of Heroin Addiction?

There are a few things that seem to be common to the regular heroin user, which may act as red flags for those looking out for them. Chronic heroin abuse can lead to a great many health issues:

  • Gastrointestinal issues – Constipation is a side effect of heroin abuse, which can cause discomfort and the improper absorption of nutrients
  • Collapsed veins – Regularly injecting into the veins will eventually cause them to collapse, making it hard for a medical professional should you need to have a blood test, IV antibiotics or any other medical procedure that involves the veins
  • Risk of disease from shared needles – If users share needles between them there is the danger of contracting HIV, Hepatitis B, and C, or other general infections
  • Malnutrition – Prolonged heroin use will affect your diet, as users will not feel hunger, may forget to eat, or may choose to spend money on drugs rather than food. This means that the body is never properly fed, and not enough nutrients are finding their way in to keep the person healthy

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What Is The Heroin Rehab Process?

Coming off heroin isn’t a simple process and it won’t be easy. But it is important to understand the steps to recovery to prepare yourself for what is to come. You can expect to go through the following steps during our heroin rehab programmes:

  • First comes withdrawal which occurs just hours after taking heroin as your body begins to crave more of the drug. Modern treatments for heroin addiction are responsible for making this process a lot easier than it once was. You might experience symptoms similar to the flu during this time which can last between 2-7 days
  • Therapy will be made up from group session, activities, support groups and one to one sessions, and is a way of helping you to deal with the root cause of your addiction and learning about it
  • The final step is maintenance in which you will engage in therapy and support groups within the community. This step will ensure that you remain free of your addiction and do not relapse.

What Are My Heroin Rehab Treatment Options?

Heroin is a notoriously difficult drug to become free from, but that isn’t to say that it isn’t possible – it simply requires professional help and treatment.

When choosing a heroin rehab facility, it is important to be sure that the reputation of the facility is good, since there is a range of treatment options with some being better than others. There are two options for heroin addiction, inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment, which we discuss below:

The most popular choice for those addicted to heroin is being treated as an inpatient. This treatment, which is made of a variety of things such as therapy, benzodiazepine rehab and a detox amongst others, will usually last up to 90 days. Whilst this is quite an intensive option, it is very effective.

Whilst taking part in inpatient treatment, you will be given a very structured routine which will be invaluable in your recovery. You might think that the treatment is completely based around your heroin use, however, many of our facilities offer activities such as holistic therapy and access to leisure and gym facilities.

But one of the most notable aspects of the inpatient rehab is that you will have the opportunity to deal with your withdrawal symptoms through the use of supervised medication use, which can be extremely beneficial.

Once the inpatient treatment is complete, you will likely be referred to an outpatient program as a way of maintaining your new lifestyle. An aftercare programme will then be created to help you maintain sobriety.

For those who are struggling with a heroin addiction that is not severe, outpatient treatment can be effective and brings about less disruption to your day to day life. 

Whether or not you meet the criteria to be treated as an outpatient will be decided by a substance abuse professional who will advise you on the best course of action for your addiction.

As an outpatient, you will still have access to therapy and medications as well as continual support. However, you will take part in this from our own home.

Whilst it may not be as intensive as inpatient treatment, your therapist will monitor your progress and identify any issues along the way.

With the right rehabilitation programme, recovery is not an impossible goal even for long term heroin addicts.

The heroin rehab programme we offer at our centres tackles the associated psychological and physical aspects of heroin addiction. This approach is vital for long term heroin addiction recovery.

Heroin Detoxification

When you attend our heroin residential rehabilitation programme you will be subject to 24-hour medical observation for the duration of detoxification. This is because the health of our patients is most at risk during this period.

Prescription drugs such as Buprenorphine and Naloxone fight off painful withdrawal symptoms until ‘stabilisation’ is achieved. Our medical staff may decide to gradually stage your withdrawal from heroin and Methadone may be offered in some cases. This is known as ‘tapering’.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Heroin withdrawal symptoms are serious; they can last for a long time – from a day or two too many weeks – and the cravings themselves may last for months or even years.

The withdrawal is so severe that complications from it can, in some cases, cause death – this is why it is so important to use a medically assisted withdrawal programme like the ones offered by Rehab 4 Addiction.

This clinic includes a specialist heroin detoxification unit, which is essential to help someone manage the withdrawal and also prevent future addiction.

Withdrawal symptoms associated with heroin detoxification linger for around fifteen days. Around the ninth day into your heroin detoxification, heroin withdrawal symptoms typically begin to decline. A ‘rapid detox programme’ is not advisable given the prolonged nature of heroin withdrawal symptoms.

Symptoms Include:

Many users find themselves simply unable to break the addiction, partly because of the powerful withdrawal symptoms. These may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Sleep pattern disruption
  • Increased heart rate
  • Stroke
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Drug craving
  • Goosebumps (hence the name ‘cold turkey’)
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Intense kicking actions hence the name ‘kicking the habit’
  • Anxiety

Is Detoxing From Heroin Safe?

Heroin detox must take place in controlled, medically assisted circumstances, to improve the chances of the user completely breaking their addiction. This removes the possibility of problems being caused by sudden withdrawal.

The process may take a few days or weeks, depending on the level of addiction and how much of the drug the user was taking. Medically assisted detox means that the process can be as comfortable as possible for the patient, and can include approved drugs to help manage the withdrawal.

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Medications For Heroin Addiction

A variety of medications can be used in this process. These medications change the brain’s reward centre by changing the number of certain hormones that are released. This is vital in overcoming drug addiction.

Medications cause calmness and relaxation and this is a result of their ability to slow down the function of the brain through the release of a chemical known as GABA.

The available medications include:

  • Buprenorphine – This is a drug that stimulates the same part of your brain that is stimulated when you use heroin. You may recognise the brand name Subutex which contains this drug
  • Methadone – This drug works in a similar way to buprenorphine but is a stronger option and can quash any cravings you may experience. Whilst this is an effective medication for addiction, it is also highly addictive itself
  • Naltrexone – This drug stops heroin from having an effect in your body so if you were to take it, you would not feel the ‘buzz’ you normally would
  • Suboxone A combination of buprenorphine and naltrexone, this drug can help with both withdrawal and stopping the effects of heroin

What Happens After Detoxification?

Once the process of detoxification is concluded you will take part in a number of therapy sessions. This will include forms of psychotherapy known as group therapy and individual therapy.

Old negative beliefs surrounding your addiction will be replaced with positive coping strategies that are essential for long term recovery. Once your programme draws to a conclusion a tailored relapse prevention plan will be drawn up.

We encourage you to work within your community upon your return home. This could include attending Narcotics Anonymous or SMART Recovery sessions which take place in your home town or city.

Ongoing Treatment And Relapse Prevention

Once you have successfully completed your detox from heroin, your focus will then shift to staying free of the drug. Your doctors and therapists will advise you on ways that you can alter your lifestyle to maintain your sobriety from the drug.

This might include things such as changing your social circle, and attending support groups. Furthermore, you can continue with your medication and try finding a new hobby.

Attending regular appointments with therapists is vital in maintaining all the hard work that you have done so far and gives you a chance to talk through any problems. Usually, a key worker will continue to work alongside you for six months after your rehab has ended.

These steps will ensure that you are confident in your rehabilitation and will ensure you receive the correct continued support.

Does Heroin Addiction Affect Mental Health?

Some of the co-existing mental health conditions that exist alongside heroin addiction can include:

  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • PTSD
  • Personality Disorders

This list is by no means exhaustive; it is just an example of some of the many issues that can exist alongside a heroin addiction. This means that patients will also be able to address any other pre-existing mental conditions while in rehab.

This means that the patient is far less likely to turn back to heroin as a crutch in the future, and should help them find their way towards a bright and successful future.

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