Chasing the Dragon: Heroin Addiction
According to the National Survey of Drug Abuse (NIDA) there were at least 281,000 people who received addiction treatment for heroin abuse in 2003. Heroin is fast acting, producing a powerful euphoric effect to the user. The person begins to chase the initial euphoric effects of using heroin, even though the first time experience is never attainable. The chase for the euphoric feeling creates a desire to continue using. Tolerance builds with continued use and addiction is the end result. An opiate drug detox is the first step towards recovery, followed by an opiate drug rehab.
Heroin is processed from morphine that is extracted from the raw opium found in a poppy plant. Heroin is used in two forms, a dark brown sticky substance or a white or light brown powder form. A few common street names for heroin are: White Lady, Dope, Black Tar, Brown Sugar, Junk and Smack. Heroin can be injected, snorted and smoked.
The short term effects of heroin use are:
- The Rush
Heroin is most identifiable with the term “rush,” which describes the feeling that takes place after injecting heroin. The intense body and brain euphoria is unique and the biggest draw for continued use. The rapid entry into the brain keeps the addict hooked to the ‘rush’ feeling. Cravings for the ‘rush’ feeling make stopping heroin difficult to do on your own. The staff at a drug rehab facility will support the heroin addict through cravings when he or she is attempting to quit heroin.
- Depressed Respiration
Heroin slows down your breathing creating a sensation of relaxation. When heroin is used in an amount that the addict’s body is not used to, the effect of depressed respiration can lead to death.
- Clouded Mental Functioning
The depressed breathing and effects of the ‘rush’ together produce a clouded mental functioning. Impaired concentration and poor attention are characteristics of clouded mental functioning. The alteration of brain function gives the user a dream like feeling of bliss.
- Suppression of Pain
Heroin is a powerful pain killer and has been used to medicate acute severe physical trauma. The fast acting qualities of heroin are appealing for the treatment of trauma. However, modern opiates have taken it’s place as a pain killer.
- Nausea and Vomiting
Your body initially revolts against the introduction of this drug to your system. The impact of heroin use on your system leads to nausea and vomiting. Nausea and vomiting also occurs during withdrawal symptoms.
Nausea and vomiting produced by heroin use are overlooked in the shadow of the ‘rush’ feeling. Negative consequences such as the possibility of overdosing or death do not deter a heroin addict from using.
Chasing the Dragon is a term used amongst the heroin community describing the endless search for that initial ‘rush’. After taking heroin for the first time the user experiences a blissful state. After a few hours the feeling ends. Finding another hit of heroin to achieve that first feeling becomes the chase. An increased amount of heroin is needed next time in an attempt to achieve the initial ‘rush’ feeling once more. Each time more heroin is purchased and used, tolerance to the heroin builds and addiction develops.
Once you are addicted to heroin, your body’s function is dependent on the continued use of this opiate. The physical need for heroin is consuming. Stopping heroin use is extremely uncomfortable and withdrawal symptoms will begin within hours. The addict will continue using heroin or another form of opiates to avoid the discomfort.
Addiction treatment offers relief from the endless chase. The staff of a quality drug rehab will be supportive of your desire to get clean and they understand the struggle of heroin addiction. A Recovery Connection coordinator is available to assist you with options for drug treatment. 866-812-8231
Avoiding the sickness
Withdrawal symptoms are experienced within a few hours from the last use and can have a crippling effect on the addict. The unbearable withdrawal symptoms lead an addict to search for either more heroin or other opiates to avoid being sick. Crimes may be commited inorder to obtain the drug. Withdrawal symptoms related to heroin use are:
- Muscle and bone pain
- Cold Flashes
- Goose Bumps
- Kicking movements
The body’s ability to function has essentially become dependent upon the presence of heroin. Heroin use can have different damaging effects on the body dependent on the route of administration. Boils, liver disease, lung complications, Hepatitis C ,
and bacterial infections are some of the medical issues related to heroin abuse. The addict’s body needs time to heal without the continued use of heroin. The healing process can happen only if the drug addict stops using.
Withdrawal from heroin can begin within the first 6-8 hours of not using for an addict. Withdrawal symptoms can last up to 14 days depending on the quantity used. These symptoms are most severe during the first 3-5 days of not using. The withdrawal from heroin makes detoxing without support difficult. A drug rehab that includes an opiate drug detox will be the safest way to kick the habit.
A drug rehab should include a medical component for the detox of opiates that will decrease symptoms related to withdrawal and increase the comfort of the addict trying to get clean. A medically based drug rehab with a medically supervised opiate detox unit will include:
- 24-hour medical supervision
- Medications to decrease the physical withdrawal symptoms, decrease cravings, and decrease stress related to the process of detox
- Individualized treatment plans
- Medical staff experienced in drug detox
- Transition to drug rehab
Research shows that it is the time period between detox and drug rehab that increases the chance of a relapse.
Although opiate detox is the first step in the recovery process, the psychological component to addiction also needs to be addressed. A comprehensive drug treatment program will be staffed by a multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, and therapists to support and assist the addict with recovery from addiction. In a quality addiction treatment center, the addict will attend individual, group and family counseling. Treatment will be focused on relapse prevention, repairing relationships, managing uncomfortable feelings without using drugs and developing healthy coping skills.
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