Twenty years ago, heroin came into vogue, ushering in a fashion era popularly referred to as heroin chic. Excessively thin, hollow-eyed models suddenly became de rieguer, but this look went out of fashion as quickly as it came into vogue. Now, though, heroin is coming back into fashion, especially in Scottsdale, where heroin overdoses have increased 300% over the last ten years. If you're struggling with addiction to this potent drug, don't fight the battle alone. Heroin addiction kills, but treatment in the form of addiction rehab can save your life.
Heroin Addiction: The Basics
A hundred years ago, heroin was readily available as an over-the-counter remedy for headaches, anxiety, insomnia, and every other ailment imaginable. Unsurprisingly, this quickly led to a heroin addiction epidemic. The federal government stepped in, and heroin has been banned ever since. This tightly regulated drug remains challenging to access, so users often pay exorbitant dealer fees, even going into debt to gain access to the drug. Thus addiction doesn't just harm your body and mind; it can also throw you into financial turmoil.
Though heroin can be snorted and smoked, most users go for the most direct route by injecting the drug. This requires significant skill, and an incorrectly formed injection can destroy blood vessels, transmit potentially fatal infections, or even kill its victim with an embolism. These challenges have made heroin one of the most dangerous drugs available. Fully half of heroin addicts admit to an overdose scare within the last year.
How Heroin Affects the Body
Heroin is an opioid narcotic, which means that it slows down activity in your brain, yields feelings of euphoria, and can cause sleepiness. Its effects are relatively long-lasting, especially when injected, so a bad high can last for hours, further endangering an addict.
In the early stages of heroin use, you may experience intense feelings of euphoria and well-being, as well as a rush upon first injecting the drug. Heroin quickly loses its potency as you develop a tolerance, though, causing most addicts to inject more and more of the substance – greatly increasing the risk of an overdose.
Some of the many side effects of heroin use include:
- Brain damage
- Mental illness
- Memory problems
- Skin-picking that leads to deep craters and infections in the skin
- Brain damage
- Personality changes
- Unstable mood
- Loss of teeth, tooth decay, chronic bad breath, and gum infections
- Infertility and sexual dysfunction
- Disruption of the menstrual and ovulatory cycles
- Exposure to infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS; if you inject heroin, your risk of dying due to drug use is much more significant.
- Psychosis, detachment, delusions, and hallucinations
Symptoms of Heroin Addiction
Heroin addiction is quick and intense. Most users become addicted with five or fewer doses of the drug. If you experience intense physical or psychological symptoms when you can't use, are progressively using more and more of the drug, or have experienced heroin-related health problems, you're probably an addict.
Here are some other signs that you may be a heroin addict:
- Spending a significant portion of your day high.
- Spending all or most of your time with other heroin addicts.
- Relying on heroin to feel productive or normal.
- Working, driving, watching children, or operating heavy machinery while under the influence of heroin.
- Lying to others about your heroin use.
- Being arrested due to heroin.
- Legal, financial, or relationship problems related to heroin.
- New or worsening mental health symptoms.
- Broken blood vessels or track arks in the arm.
- Not caring about anything except heroin, or neglecting previously beloved activities so you can use heroin.
Treatment for Heroin Addiction
Heroin addiction is a potentially fatal illness that demands prompt medical intervention. Your next use of heroin could be your last; there's no way to predict a heroin overdose, and the longer you use, the more likely it is that heroin will kill you. It is virtually impossible to get clean on your own, and if you try and fail, you've only wasted your time.
Instead, you need comprehensive treatment. Rehab is the gold standard in heroin treatment because you'll get immediate medical help, break free from the peer pressure of home, and get a chance to remake a life you can love. Here are some of the services you can expect in rehab. If you're not ready for care, you can also pursue these programs on your own:
- Therapy with a trained addiction expert. In therapy, you'll gain a better understanding of why you use while working on practical strategies to help you resist temptation.
- Group assistance programs. You may gain access to group therapy, 12-step programs such as Narcotics Anonymous, and informal support groups. Networking with other addicts who have faced similar issues to your own is an excellent way to get sober more quickly while benefiting from the hard-won knowledge of other addicts just like you.
- Medical care. Heroin can kill you, destroy your organs, and wreck your mental health. You'll need a doctor's help to get back on track. Your doctor can also help you navigate the heroin withdrawal process, which is notoriously difficult. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medications to make withdrawal easier, prescribe drugs to help reduce your cravings, or offer you medical treatment for any underlying mental health issues.