Heroin is in the class of drugs known as opioids, which also includes prescription pain relievers such as Vicodin, Percocet and morphine. These medications are frequently prescribed for pain after surgery.
Opioids act on the limbic system, which controls emotions. Heroin alters these emotions so the user feels an intense rush of pleasure when the substance is consumed, making them crave it even more. Heroin can also reduce or eliminate pain, making those who suffer from chronic pain, drawn to it. Because this drug can be snorted or injected, it enters the bloodstream rapidly, causing it to take effect immediately. This contributes to the popularity and addictiveness of the drug.
Heroin use alters the physical structure of the user’s brain. It creates neurological and hormonal imbalances that are not easily reversed. Some studies even suggest that the white matter of the brain is reduced by repeated use. White matter helps us make decisions, regulates our behaviors and helps us respond to stressful situations. An addict, even one that has been successfully rehabilitated, will not regain these functions completely.
Once a person becomes addicted to this drug, seeking out and using it becomes their main priority in life. Their family, friends and work become increasingly trivial next to the process of finding and purchasing the drug.
There are both pharmacological and behavioral treatments available for heroin addiction. Usually, an addict is best treated by using an integrated approach, utilizing both medications and therapy.
When an addict first stops taking a drug, they often experience withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, severe pain and diarrhea. Medications are available to help the addict through this time so they don’t turn to drugs to take their pain and other symptoms away. Medical detoxification can alleviate these symptoms and prevent long-term health complications caused by the body’s response to withdrawal.
Behavioral therapy can be administered either as an outpatient or in a residential facility. Contingency management and cognitive-behavioral therapy are the most common forms of therapy. If these methods are used in combination with medications, treatment can be successful. At Drug Treatment Centers Pompano Beach FL, our doctors and other health care professionals customize each treatment plan to fit the needs of each patient.
Families and friends must be determined to be supportive of the addict throughout drug rehab treatment. After treatment, support and diligence from those around the recovering addict can help him or her avoid a relapse. Addiction should be viewed as a chronic disease and treated as such. Heroin addiction causes serious health complications, and every addict needs and deserves the appropriate treatment.
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