How to Get Sober From Heroin

Over the years, heroin addiction and drug use have skyrocketed in the U.S. According to research, almost 21 million Americans have at least one addiction, and only 10% of them receive treatment. And about 494,000 Americans over the age of 12 are regular heroin users. Heroin is an addictive and powerful opioid that is considered to be one of the major contributors to the opioid epidemic in the United States. In fact, heroin use resulted in an epidemic of overdose deaths since the early 2000s. Last 2017 and 2018, around 15,000 people each year died of a heroin overdose. This is a staggering increase compared to 2010, which had at least 3,100 people who died of a heroin overdose. That’s why there’s a crucial need to understand heroin addiction and the ways that it can be treated.

Why Is It So Addictive?

Heroin is an illicit substance that’s derived from morphine, which is a drug extracted from the seed of an opium poppy plant. These opium poppy plants can be mostly found and grown in Southeast Asia, Mexico and some regions of Central and South America. Since it is an opiate, heroin can be snorted, smoked, or injected. It has no legitimate medical purpose and is sometimes known in street names like “H,” or “smack.”

As an opioid, it has a strong affinity for the opioid receptors in our body. These receptors control feelings of pain and pleasure, which is why heroin use ignites a euphoric rush that many people want to experience over and over. This, in turn, leads to addiction. One thing that also makes it one of the most alarming drugs in the country is because it is cheap and readily available. Unfortunately, in the past ten to fifteen years, many people were over-prescribed with opioid painkillers such as Vicodin, Percocet, or Oxycodone, which resulted in subsequent opioid addictions. Because of the strict vigilance of these prescriptions, many people turned to heroin because it was cheap and easily attainable.

What are the Signs of Heroin Addiction?

There are two ways to describe the symptoms of a person struggling with heroin addiction: physical and behavioral. For physical symptoms, common signs are the following:

  • Bloodshot eyes and constricted pupils
  • Sudden weight loss.
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Flushed skin.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe itching
  • Dry mouth
  • Cold flashes
  • Sharp decrease in motor skills

On the other hand, for behavioral symptoms, you have the following:

  • Depression
  • Reduced mental awareness
  • Paranoia
  • Lack of motivation
  • Secretive behavior
  • Incessant lying
  • Slurred speech

Perhaps the most difficult part for those who have loved ones or know someone with heroin addiction is how they can see them making choices that put them at risk of death or have financial and legal troubles. Studies have shown that these irrational decisions are partially because of the changes in brain functioning that happen when a person develops an addiction. This is because heroin damages white matter in the brain and disrupts the pathways to the structures in the brain that is responsible for decision making.

How Can You Treat Heroin Addiction?

There are many treatments available for those who want to overcome their heroin addiction. But one thing is for sure; it cannot be done alone. This is because stopping the use of the drug can cause withdrawals that might be life-threatening if not properly supervised by a medical professional.

Understanding Detoxification

So, the first step to sobering up would be detoxification. It is highly recommended that it is done with the assistance of a team of professionals because they would be trained to supervise and monitor the person throughout the process of heroin detoxification. Heroin withdrawal is painful and can last for weeks, not to mention that it can take a toll on one’s mental health. Some feel that they will never be free of their addiction, which results in severe depression. If you add in the other withdrawal symptoms, individuals would likely relapse if they try to detoxify on their own or even succumb to their suicidal thoughts. This is where the importance of inpatient rehabilitation comes in.

Inpatient Rehabilitation

If you ask former heroin addicts, most of them thank their inpatient rehabilitation for their recovery. Inpatient rehabilitation consists of facilities that offer 24/7 hour care for their residents. They provide a structured routine that includes activities such as daily therapy, support groups, and medically-assisted detoxification. An example of this would be administering medications like Suboxone, which consists of two drugs. There’s the buprenorphine that partially stimulates the opioid receptors in the brain, and there’s the naloxone, which blocks the opioid receptors and reverses the effects of opioids. This kind of medication helps ensure that a person’s physical dependence on heroin is broken in a safe and stable manner. Most inpatient rehabilitation lasts between 30 to 90 days, but it may last longer in some extreme cases. 

Inpatient treatment is considered one of the best ways to treat heroin addicts because it provides residents with feelings of security and safety. It can also effectively prevent the possibility of relapse, which commonly happens to those who try to treat themselves or are not ready for outpatient treatments. Also, with inpatient therapy, they are free from the stresses and temptations of the outside world. They can focus on healing and restoring themselves. Although outpatient therapy, a treatment where you can go home at the end of the day after your regular visit to the facility, is appealing. It won’t work for those who are suffering from serious addictions like heroin.

We know how difficult it is to take the first step to become sober. It’s not a process that can be hurried because it requires patience and determination. That’s why there’s no need to feel discouraged. The road to recovery is not that far off as long as goals are set.

If you are looking for an inpatient heroin detox in California, you can check out White Oak Recovery. Their facilities and programs are made for those who want to get their drug addictions treated. With friendly staff and a healing environment, you can rest assured that with their various addiction treatment methods, you’ll have an individualized treatment that is catered to your needs.

Resources:

Roughly 186,000 people in California are treated annually for alcohol dependence or abuse. If you or someone you know is in need of alcohol rehabilitation in California, reach out to White Oak Recovery Center at +1 844-955-2489. With a healthy diet and support from their medical team and councilors, those suffering from alcohol addiction will have