Heroin Addiction Treatment

A Unique Heroin Addiction Treatment Center for Women

If you or a loved one are struggling with heroin addiction, treatment is available. At Haven Hills Recovery, we understand that cessation of active heroin use is only the beginning of a new life.  Our highly trained clinical team will work with you to help you develop the coping skills to navigate cravings, trigger identification, relapse prevention, and support system development.

We will also help you explore the underlying issues that drove addictive use of heroin.  Our team specializes in issues related to trauma, childhood neglect or abuse, co-dependency and relationship/attachment dysfunction, family system dynamics, loss and grief, and the emotional chaos that is so often underneath, or created by addictive heroin use.

We do accept clients that are currently on Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) maintenance and our staff doctor will help determine the most appropriate medical protocol and heroin addiction treatment plan.  We know that heroin addiction takes a strong hold of your thoughts and behaviors and that creating a new way of being takes time.  We provide an open-ended length of stay so that you can have the time needed to prepare for a fulfilling, drug-free life.

 Heroin: What is it?

Heroin is an illegal opioid drug that is made from morphine, a natural substance derived from the opium of the poppy plant. The narcotic elements of heroin bind to the brain’s natural opioid receptors and work as a central nervous system depressant.  Heroin can look different in different regions.  It may appear as a white powder, a black tarry substance, or even in liquid form.  Heroin is used in almost any route of administration, including intravenously (injection), inhalation (smoking), or intranasally (snorting).  Heroin is usually mixed with an unpredictable quantity of mixing agents or adulterants.  This is referred to as the “cut.”  Heroin is often cut in a way that reduces its potency, and in this way, the heroin dealer can generate maximum profit from the supply.  Common adulterants can include anything from flour to chalk to laxatives, however toxic substances ranging from shoe polish to rat poison have also been detected in batches of heroin.  Because of the unknown elements of cut and unknown percentage of actual heroin in any mixture, heroin’s potency can fluctuate greatly from batch to batch.

Heroin and Fentanyl

In recent years, some heroin dealers have attempted intensify the effect of their heroin by adding other narcotic drugs such as fentanyl.  Fentanyl is a highly potent pain reliever – even a few grains of the substance can cause an overdose.  This makes fentanyl a very appealing additive to heroin dealers because they can claim to have a much more potent product with very low additional cost.  With the introduction of fentanyl to heroin, the overdose rates in the United States have skyrocketed.  According to The New York Times, between 2013 and 2016, the number of fentanyl related overdose deaths rose by 540%.  The unfortunate truth is that many heroin addicts are willing to risk the possibility of a fatal overdose as they dance along the line of life and death in search of “the ultimate high.”

Heroin Addiction

Heroin is a drug with extremely high addictive potential, meaning that the onset of effect is almost instantaneous, the effects are intense, and are, at least initially, perceived by the brain as euphoric.  People who try heroin often find themselves spending very little time in the experimental phase before they find themselves in full behavioral addiction and physical dependence.

Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Abuse

Users can find themselves experiencing immediate physical effects that are unpleasant, including:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • itching/crawling sensations on skin
  • dry mouth or an immediate sense of dehydration
  • shortness of breath
  • blurred vision
  • ringing in the ears

Because heroin works as a central nervous system depressant, the delayed symptoms include:

  • drowsiness
  • lapsing in and out of waking consciousness (known as “nodding off”)
  • slowed heart rate
  • slowed breathing
  • loss of appetite
  • slurred speech
  • constricted pupils
  • coordination problems
  • finding one’s body “frozen” in a fixed position

Psychologically, the heroin user will initially experience the effects common to all opioids – a sensation of euphoria, a false sense of well-being, relief of any existing physical pain, and a general mood of deep relaxation.  Before long, however, the psychological symptoms of heroin abuse begin to significantly impair a person’s quality of life.  Symptoms may include:

  • extreme lethargy
  • lack of motivation
  • loss of attention to self-care
  • mood swings
  • agitation/irritability
  • sense of “lost time” or confusion
  • anxiety/panic or extreme dread around withdrawal
  • high risk-taking behavior
  • delusions
  • hostility
  • social avoidance
  • paranoia
  • suicidal ideation

While at one time the drug might have brought physical, psychological, or emotional relief, the consequences of the drug use itself begin to cause problems that far outweigh the initial distress that the user was seeking to relieve.  Over time, most heroin users will find themselves in a cycle of continued use, drug seeking, and withdrawal avoidance in a desperate attempt to ease the physical and psychological symptoms that the drug use itself is causing.

Risks of Intravenous Heroin Abuse

Physically, the heroin abuser is in a much higher risk category than with almost any other drug. Risks specific to intravenous use include:

  • skin infections
  • abscesses
  • vein collapse
  • “track marks” – or tissue scarring
  • infectious diseases that are transmitted through blood, including Hepatitis B and C and HIV
  • Other health risks of heroin addiction include:
  • heart disease
  • lung disease and pneumonia
  • blood clots
  •  skin infections (including Staph infection, cellulitis, and MRSA)
  • Bruising
  • slow wound healing and other wound complications
  • accidental injury (due to lapsing in and out of consciousness)
  • Heroin users are also at a high risk for seizures, overdose and death. If you have a loved one who is abusing heroin or other opiates, learn more about naloxone – a life-saving opiate overdose reversal drug.

Heroin Withdrawal

Heroin withdrawal is a notoriously difficult experience.  If a user attempts to cease all opioid usage abruptly, or “go cold turkey,” they are likely to experience severely uncomfortable symptoms.  Many heroin addicts engage in continued use long after the drug ceases having euphoric effect, simply to avoid the pain of withdrawal.  Symptoms of abrupt opioid cessation may include:

  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • restlessness/muscle twitches
  • insomnia
  • uncontrollable yawning
  • excessive sweating
  • sensory sensitivity, including skin sensitivity or skin that is painful to the touch
  • muscle aches and muscle cramping
  • difficulty thinking clearly or concentrating
  • depression, anxiety, agitation and mood swings

If the heroin user is in otherwise good health, the withdrawal symptoms are almost never life-threatening… although they will likely feel like they are.  It is always recommended that heroin users seek medical consultation when ceasing usage, particularly if they have pre-existing health conditions, or any complications that may make the withdrawal symptoms critical.

Heroin Addiction Treatment

Due to the dangers of overdose and death, it is incredibly important to seek treatment for heroin addiction.

Some heroin users seek medical supervision to cease heroin usage and choose Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT).  Some effective medications used in MAT include:

  • Naltrexone (pill form – ReVia, Depade)
  • Naltrexone (sustained-release injection – Vivitrol)
  • Buprenorephine with naloxone (Suboxone)
  • Buprenorephine (Subutex)
  • Methadone (dolophine, methadose)

MAT has evidence-based effectiveness in reducing opioid use, reducing the risks of overdose and death, reducing withdrawal symptoms of opioid cessation, reducing criminal lifestyle, and reducing health complications associated with opioid use.  To best insure an improved quality of life and sustained recovery, it is always recommended that MAT be applied in partnership with behavioral counseling.

Aside from MAT for heroin addiction treatment, we believe treating the whole person is the key to lasting recovery. Addiction, including heroin addiction, is often a symptom of underlying issues, and it is through treating the underlying issues that an individual is set up for lasting recovery.

If you or a loved one are in need of treatment for heroin addiction, please reach out to our compassionate, highly trained staff. We offer IOP, PHP, and sober living for women, and specialize in treating trauma and co-occurring disorders that often show up alongside heroin addiction. Call us – we are here to help.

Haven Hills Recovery – Trauma Informed Care for Women