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More than 9 million people around the globe are currently battling with Heroin addiction; no doubt, many more have yet to go on record. In September 2015 the Guardian published an article on heroin claiming that this opiate is responsible for 42 percent of drug-related deaths. It was recently rated the world’s most addictive substance as well as the most difficult from which to break free. In the eyes of those caught in the throes of this deadly drug, it may live up to the German term for heroic for which it was named, but in reality, it’s anything but noble.
A Brief History
Well over 100 years ago, scientists accidentally created Heroin while attempting to improve upon a prescription medication already in use. Heroin is produced from the opium poppy plant, derived from raw opium gum. Results of their efforts were found to be twice as powerful as morphine and effective for a wide variety of issues. Marketed as a safe and non-addictive medication, the drug was soon put to use as a remedy for serious respiratory conditions as well as in treating injuries, mental disorders and even the pain of childbirth.
Needless to say, it only took a few years for scientists to realize how mistaken they were about the nature of the drug. It was quickly banned from medical use, but by that time, it was already too late for all those who had become addicted, been seriously injured or even passed away at the hands of this substance. Though it was taken out of pharmacies, it remained largely available in trafficking circles around the world even then.
The Far-Reaching Effects
Back in the early days when Herion first reached pharmacy shelves, the medical community praised this new drug for its potency and effectiveness. As you’re well aware, it certainly lives up to its claims of being able to rapidly rid the mind and body of pain. Unfortunately, those effects are false and short lived. Whether smoked, snorted or shot, this substance swiftly reaches the brain and nervous system where it binds with certain receptors. There, it blocks pain and sadness, leading to a strong sense of pleasure and happiness. Highs may last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours depending on how it’s ingested and strength of the dose as well as several other factors. As is the case with so many other substances, the more you use it, the more you need to gain any type of pain relief. While you’re experiencing the calm, relaxation and euphoria of Heroin, a number of dangerous processes are taking place below the surface.
• Elevated Body Temperature: Warmth is the result of increased body temperature; that alone places you at higher risk of hypothermia because you’re unaware of the physical environment surrounding you. It can also weaken your immune system over time, leaving you unable to fight off illnesses.
• Desensitisation: Although physical pain relief may seem like a positive side-effect, it’s also hazardous to your health. When you’re numb to discomfort, you could easily injure yourself without realizing much like diabetics who’ve experienced nerve damage. Depending on the nature of the injury, you might face extensive blood loss, severe burns or infection. Again, once your immune system has been negatively impacted, you’re more vulnerable to even minor infections.
• Apnea: During a Heroin high, your body’s breathing drops well below normal rates. Possible repercussions include rapid heart rate, increased risk of heart attack, loss of consciousness, dangerously low blood pressure and brain damage to name a few.
Aside from all those, you’re far less aware of darker dangers surrounding you when you’re under the effects of Heroin. You could be subjecting yourself to immeasurable harm from those with less than kind intentions. In all honesty, while you’re in the midst of a high, you’re as indifferent to those elements as you are unaware.
More than Just a Temporary Effect on the Brain
While all those other issues are developing, you’re also causing permanent damage to your brain with each dose of Heroin you consume. Over time, your brain becomes accustomed to those physical and emotional pain inhibiting effects and needs increasing amounts of them in order to cope with stimuli. Eventually, it’ll leave you unable to tolerate even moderate levels of discomfort and disappointment on your own.
At the same time, you’re destroying parts of your brain responsible for thought processes and reactivity. As you’re experiencing temporary relief from the pain of the world around you, you’re also gradually reducing your ability to respond normally to everyday situations. Heroin decreases your capacity to make decisions and destroys your ability to deal with stress on a number of levels. This drug can literally alter your personality. The heroin side effects are reversible in some cases as long as you break the drug’s hold on you early enough, but if left to their own devices, the impacts can be permanent and severe. Heroin also causes damage to your heart, internal organs, immune system and a long list of other problems.
Why Do People Turn to Heroin?
Heroin began its existence as a prescription medication designed to curb pain as well as a number of mental conditions falling under a single umbrella treatment at the time. High dependence rating and the range of negative health effects aside, it actually does serve its original purpose to an extent. As opposed to many other addictive substances, people typically resort to Heroin as a form of self-medication rather than for recreational use. Pain and fear are the world’s most powerful motivators.
Millions of people seek relief from injuries and debilitating conditions every year. Doctors prescribe fairly potent painkillers like diamorphine and diacetylmorphine, anti-inflammatory agents and muscle relaxers to help combat these issues, but they’re not always the right solution. Some offer no respite from the pain whereas others are barely effective. People often build up immunity to their effects over time, leading to the need for stronger measures.
Those suffering on a daily basis also have a certain amount of politics with which to contend. What happens if their medications are lost or stolen or their physicians can’t see them for quite some time afterward? They typically receive little sympathy from pharmacies and clinics due to current legislature governing controlled substances. On the other hand, what are they to do when nothing else provides the reprieve they need?
Depression, anxiety and a range of other emotional and mental conditions affect about 350 million people globally, but only half actually receive help. What becomes of the millions who have no access to counselling or medications? How are those whose loved ones are far less than supportive to deal with the pain? What choices do they have left when physicians and psychologists discount their anguish rather than helping them find effective solutions?
For the majority of heroin addicts, it’s a matter of desperation. As a last-ditch effort to deal with their torment, they try the one remaining alternative. Some decide the initial effects of heroin are too unpleasant for their tastes, but many find the opposite to be true. By the drug’s very nature, one dose is enough to trigger an addiction, so the cycle begins. Once it does, it’s immeasurably difficult to break, but help is available.
Heroin Addiction Treatment
Neither addiction nor its reason for developing is the same for everyone. People may have similar experiences in life, but no two are identical. Still, everyone suffering from the hold of substance abuse faces excruciating battles on the road to recovery. Today’s heroin detox and rehabilitation programmes take those factors as well as the severity of heroin withdrawal symptoms associated with this particular drug into consideration, but they also cover a variety of other elements.
Short-term Heroin Detox
Detox programmes include seven to 10 days in a residential facility, which is the approximate amount of time required to rid your system of Heroin. During this type of Heroin addiction treatment, you’ll have a team of nurses, physicians and counsellors at your disposal around the clock. They’ll be by your side to see you through the physical and emotional symptoms of withdrawal.
You may be given medications to help ease the withdrawal symptoms of heroin, the common ones being Methadone, Buprenorphine and Naltrexone, and your detox team will be your support group in place of the Heroin you’ve become dependent upon. If you can’t afford a lengthier stay in rehab due to time or finances, this may be the right temporary solution for you. That being said, getting the drug out of your system is only the first leg of your journey to recovery.
After the heroin detox program is over, you’ll still need to participate in ongoing treatment. Support groups are widely available as is one-on-one counselling. You also have the option of transitioning to a part-time live-in facility to help you learn to live without Heroin.
With long-term heroin rehab, stays span anywhere from 28 days to several months depending on your level of need. These programmes start out with the same steps you’d have access to in detox: getting the drug out of your system and gaining medical and emotional support throughout the process. From there, you’ll be living in a drug-free facility with continual care focusing on breaking your addiction. Though many base heroin addiction treatment on complete isolation from the outside world, recovery experts are finding this approach less effective than originally believed. Having access to phones, friends, family and the internet actually make the transition back to real life quite a bit easier considering the landscape of modern life. At the same time, your support team helps you develop tools for better coping with the world without falling back on Heroin.
Whether you choose a short or long-term rehab option, you’ll be equipped with an arsenal of resources to help you cope with challenges you’re bound to face in the outside world. Today’s treatments target not only the addiction itself, but its underlying cause. Whether you’re experiencing intense physical pain, living with the aftermath of abuse or up against any other issue, therapy helps you learn healthy ways of dealing with life rather than reverting back to your addiction.
Living a life without Heroin won’t necessarily be easy, but it is certainly possible with the right resources. With each passing day, you’ll find yourself less drawn to this deadly drug and its false sense of temporary security. Many people have drawn inspiration from Davina McCall, the female hero who beat heroin. If you’re concerned about the cost of rehab, understand financial assistance is available.
Heroin strips you of your health, your life and who you are as a person, but you can break the chains of addiction. Live the life you want and deserve, and experience the joys of freedom. Asking for help is a sign of strength rather than weakness, so don’t hesitate to seek the assistance you need.
Over the years, Heroin has picked up quite a list of different names based on the cultural and geographical location of the user. I have provided an extensive list of slang terms for heroin below for concerned parents and friends:
Skag, Mud, Horse, H, Black pearl, Birdie powder, Black tar, Smack, Junk, Vidrio, Bombita, Dope, White stuff, Mexican horse, Carne, Brown sugar, Chiva, Boy, Gato, Witch hazel, Chicle, Pluto, La Buena, Hero, Skunk, China white, Number 2, Dragon, Caballo, Zoquete, Tiger, Carga.
There is also a synthetic morphine based drug currently sweeping the UK and claiming lives called Oxycodone, or known more colloquially as “Hillbilly Heroin” in the US because of its abuse in rural areas.
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Timing matters. It’s important to get help
while a person is open to change
Timing matters. It’s important to get help while a person is open to change.
So ask any questions or reserve a place at ARC now. TODAY!
So ask any questions or reserve
a place at ARC now. TODAY!
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“If I didn’t come here and do this treatment, I don’t think I’d be on this earth now.” - Johnathon
Addiction Recovery Centre – ARC – Drug & Alcohol Rehab Center in Portsmouth
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With the RIGHT HELP you or your loved one CAN move on to create a full, normal life. A life with meaning, purpose, hope & happiness as real options.
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ARC clients make it!
"If I didn't come here & do this treatment, I don't think I'd be on this earth now."
- John, free from alcohol & drugs for 3 years at time of review