Heroin Addiction Treatment in Ontario
What Is Heroin?Heroin is a drug that comes from a flower, the opium poppy, which usually grows in Mexico, Asia, and South America. It’s very addictive. It can look like a white or brown powder, or a sticky black “tar.” It’s also called horse, smack, junk, and brown sugar.
How Heroin Is UsedMany people smoke or snort heroin. Most users inject it into their veins. That’s the most dangerous way to take it, because it’s easier to overdose and you can catch a disease from a dirty needle. No matter how you take it, heroin gets to your brain quickly. It’s also easy to get addicted. Even after you use it just one or two times, it can be hard to stop yourself from using again. Right after you take heroin, you get a rush of good feelings and happiness. Then, for several hours, you feel as if the world has slowed down. You think slowly and may walk slowly. Some users say you feel like you’re in a dream. Heroin blocks your body from getting pain messages and slows your heart rate and breathing. If you overdose, you may stop breathing and die. Many people start using heroin to deal with anxiety, worries, and other stressors. One study found that 75% of users had mental health issues such as depression, ADHD, or bipolar disorder. One thing that plays a role in the rise is the growing abuse of prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, which are also made from the poppy plant and are chemically related to heroin. People who misuse these drugs may start looking for a stronger, cheaper high. Heroin is both. But it’s also more dangerous. There’s no way to know what you’re taking or how strong it is. The U.S. heroin overdose death rate rose nearly 400% between 2010 and 2017. Some of these deaths happen because heroin is laced with other drugs, such as the powerful painkiller fentanyl. What Are the Effects of Heroin?
Short-term effects of heroin include:
A dry mouth
Warm, flushed skin
Arms and legs that feel heavy
Upset stomach and vomiting
A fuzzy brain
Switching in and out of drowsiness (this is often called being “on the nod”)
Long-term heroin use can lead to:
Infections of your heart lining and valves
Skin infections like abscesses and cellulitis
A higher chance of getting HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C
Liver and kidney disease
Lung diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis
Menstrual problems and miscarriage
Heroin Addiction and WithdrawalHeroin is very addictive. Many people who take it develop a use disorder. This means it causes health problems, disabilities, and trouble at home, work, or school. If you use heroin a lot, your body builds up a tolerance to it. But that doesn’t mean it won’t harm you. It means you need to take more and more to get the same high. Your body comes to depend on it. Then, when you quit using it, you have withdrawal symptoms that may include:
Vomiting and diarrhea
Bone and muscle pain
Leg movements that you can’t control
Heroin Addiction TreatmentYour medical team can help you find the treatment plan that works best for you. It will probably include medication and behavioral therapy. Experts say this medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the “gold standard” of care for people who have heroin addiction. Medications can make it easier to wean your body off heroin and reduce cravings. Buprenorphine and methadone work in a similar way to heroin, binding to cells in your brain called opioid receptors. These medicines are safer and longer-lasting than heroin. Naltrexone blocks those receptors so opioids like heroin don’t have any effect. This makes using them less enjoyable. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you pay attention to the things you think and do when it comes to drug use. It gives you ways to better cope with stress and other triggers.