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Addiction, also known as substance use disorder (SUD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic, relapsing brain disorder. The Mayo Clinic explains addiction as a disease “that affects a person’s brain and behavior and leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medication” without regard for consequence. Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive, psychoactive opioid drug, that is recognized as one of the most addictive substances available. It is made from morphine, which is derived from the opium plant, poppy. It is classified by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule I Controlled Substance, which is defined as a substance “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Heroin can be abused in different ways such as intravenously (injected), inhaled (snorted), and/ or smoked. The method of ingestion does not affect the speed at which heroin crosses the blood-brain barrier.

The way heroin works is by rapidly entering one’s brain and binding to one’s opioid receptors. Opioid receptors are neurotransmitters that help to regulate the perception of feelings (e.g., pleasure, pain, etc.) in addition to other functions such as controlling heart rate, sleeping, and breathing. Due to its innately addictive qualities, any person that uses heroin repeatedly, regardless of any predisposed potential for developing substance use disorder (e.g., family history of addiction, exposure to drugs at a young age, mental health disorder, etc.) is at risk for developing a physical and psychological addiction to heroin. For this reason, the treatment protocol for heroin dependence is analogous to the treatment process for heroin addiction.

Treatment Starts With Detox

There are a variety of treatment methods used to help an individual recover from an addiction to heroin. The typical treatment process for heroin addiction is comprised of three stages, in sequential order: the detox stage, formal treatment program, and aftercare. All three stages are equally important, as each is fundamental to the recovery process. Nevertheless, detox is the first step in the treatment of heroin addiction. It is the process that rids one’s body of all foreign substances. Though the withdrawal symptoms (e.g., insomnia, anxiety, vomiting, tremors, diarrhea, etc.) that typically manifest when detoxing from heroin are rarely life threatening, they can cause severe discomfort, and as such a medically assisted detox is advised to assist with mitigating the adverse withdrawal symptoms.

For Information and Support

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com.