One of the strongest forms of drugs derived from morphine, heroin can produce a highly euphoric and cloudy thinking, followed by alternating alert and drowsy states. The use of heroin is often stigmatized, but it is growing due to its increased availability and low price, espeically compared with opioid prescription drugs.
A 2014 survey from the Center for Disease Control reported that 900,000 people used heroin in that year, a 62.5 percent increase since 2002. People often turn to heroin as a way to deal with internal pain and feel pleasure. However, heroin use comes with very serious risks, and is extremely addictive. The good news is that recovery and sustained sobriety is possible.
The Dangers: Long-term heroin use can be very harmful to your health. Regularly using heroin over a period of time can cause:
- Serious liver damage and liver cancer
- Kidney disease
- Lung complications, including pneumonia and tuberculosis
- Collapsed veins
- Infection of heart lining
- Hepatitis and HIV/AIDS from needle sharing
The most serious danger is overdosing, or taking a higher amount of heroin thein your body can tolerate. This can slow down the functioning of your breathing and heart in a way that can easily cause death.
Unfortunately, a non-regulated underground industry, combined with multiple variables too complex to account for, it can difficult to tell how much heroin is really “too much,” which is why many users overdose accidentally.
Why Heroin is so Addictive: Within a few seconds, heroin hits the brain with a “rush” of euphoria with a few minutes or even seconds. Very high levels of endorphins, or the bodily chemicals that produce positive moods, flood the brain. This is then followed by an extended period of feeling fatigued and having a “cloudy mind” for several hours. The heart and the breathing will slow down, and intense withdrawal effects might be felt almost immediately. Heroin’s speed and intensity lend itself easily to patterns of addiction, as a person “coming down” may immediately start craving another hit. Furthermore, continued use can build up tolerance, as it will start taking higher and higher doses to achieve that elusive high, making the drug more dangerous.
Detox and Recovery: Heroin can have a very tenacious grip on its addicted users. It is generally considered to be one of the most difficult drugs to achieve sustained sobriety from. However, a well-supervised and evidence-based treatment center, combined with your own tenacity and willingness to do whatever it takes to get up from rock bottom, can make all the difference. Simply going “cold turkey” will expose you to many unpleasant withdrawal effects, and your sobriety may not stick if you do not also make efforts to change your environment, surround yourself with positivity, and find healing for the deeper mental insecurities that may be driving your substance abuse.
Checking into a rehab center like the Gooden Center, for either inpatient or outpatient treatment will have several steps to it.
“Pre-Recovery” – Within yourself, think about what your life has become. Take inventory of how addiction controls your life, and what you would be willing to do to change things.
Detox – The immediate process of going without the drug and making it through a painful withdrawal process. For around 7-10 days, you may experience intense flu-like symptoms, depression, and aching muscles. You will be surrounded by medical professional monitoring withdrawal, and working to make you as comfortable as possible.
Treatment – Checking yourself into a rehab center for an extended period, during which time you will be encouraged by other addicts facing similar issues, understand more about building up healthy habits that can sustain sobriety, and understand more deeply the root of your insecurities, trauma, or pain.
Long-term Recovery – A life-long process of remaining committed to recovery and staying in the program of sobriety. Regular exercise and caring for your physical health, being surrounded by supportive friends, and finding a deeper purpose in life are all part of learning what it means to build a secure scaffolding that can be stronger than your addiction.
There is hope, and recovery is not something you have to do alone.