Heroin is an illegal drug that belongs to the opiate family. Derived from morphine, which naturally occurs in some varieties of the poppy plant, heroin is sold on the street in the form of a white or brownish powder that can be snorted, injected, or smoked.
The effects of heroin are a major factor in the prevalence of addiction, which can set in quickly. It produces intense euphoria and a strong sense of well-being, which leads those who try it "just once" to desire the experience again. With continued use, the risk of developing an addiction increases exponentially.
Heroin addiction is a growing problem in many municipalities, due in part to its affordability and the crackdown on the abuse of prescription opiate drugs like OxyContin and Fentanyl. In particular, use is consistently increasing among young people between the ages of 18 and 25. According to a recent survey by the National Survey on Drug use and Health, around 669,000 people reported using it within the last year.
In addition to the effects of taking this substance, which makes it a highly abused drug, it produces tolerance quicker than most other drugs. This means that over time, higher doses are required in order to get the desired effects.
As it binds to mu-opioid receptors in the brain, these receptors are activated and the result is a release of dopamine, which is what causes the intense feelings of pleasure. However, it leads to changes in the function and structures of the brain very quickly, and eventually, when someone who abuses heroin tries to stop, the abnormal brain function causes withdrawal symptoms to set in, indicating that an addiction has developed.
Some of the signs of abuse include:
Some of the signs of addiction include:
health, and relationships
Over time, it can lead to serious problems with mental and physical health, including:
The first phase of drug treatment is medical detox. During this medically supervised detoxification process, physicians provide medications like Methadone, Clonodine, and Subutex to help alleviate cravings and other withdrawal symptoms and shorten the amount of time it takes to detox.
Once the physical addiction is broken through detox, treatment therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing are used to address the deeper psychological issues underlying the addiction.
The last phase of treatment is the aftercare plan, which is developed based on individual need and set in place after treatment to help the patient maintain the motivation to continue with recovery. The aftercare plan will typically involve relapse prevention programming, ongoing therapy, and participation in a community recovery group. Other components will be added based on the individual's particular needs and challenges.