Understanding the Specific Care Needed by Heroin Addicts

Heroin addiction presently affects millions of people and their families every day. It is one of the most widely abused opiates in the United States which accounts for about 18 percent of admissions to drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities. Addiction to heroin is costly not only to a person’s physical and mental health, but to their overall well-being in secular and social environments.

Inpatient Treatment for Heroin Addiction

The user buying heroin on the street may think that they can experiment with heroin once or twice and then walk away. In reality, a one-time hit can cause addiction. Furthermore, the user never knows the actual strength of the heroin in their packet which could lead to a coma or death from an overdose.

The initial benefit of seeking inpatient treatment for heroin addiction is stopping any further physical, mental or social damage that develops from long-term use. Aside from addressing the physical aspect of heroin withdrawal, effective rehabilitation facilities that also incorporate cognitive therapy with the user’s treatment often yield better recovery results.

According to a study performed by The University of Michigan Depression Center found that cognitive behavioral therapy showed “significant improvements” in over 75 percent of patients; and, there was considerable evidence that drug rehab clients cope with life’s everyday challenges and are better able to prevent relapse as concluded by the University Of Connecticut School Of Medicine.

For the heroin abuser seeking help, the specific benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy are the following:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy can give individuals a continual support network to depend on during and after the recovery process.
  • They learn to resist peer pressure by saying no to the substances or activities that created the addiction in the first place.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy is cost-effective and is often covered by medical insurance plans.
  • Patients have time to master the steps they are uncomfortable with, and have the ability to move forward from the ones that take less time to accomplish; it allows continuance of normal activities.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy can be tapered off and finally terminated when the patient has successfully overcome their addiction.

To summarize, cognitive behavioral therapy identifies irrational or negative thought patterns as it directly relates to a person’s behavior. With this type of knowledge in hand, a former heroin abuser has a better chance of beating their addiction when they identify and replace old behaviors with new ones.  To better understand the importance of this type of rehabilitation, the following facts outline the dangerous short-term and long-term effects of heroin abuse.

The Effects of Heroin Short Term

First-time users of heroin experience a “rush” sensation that is often followed by a dry mouth and a warm skin. It could also include severe itching and vomiting. Following these effects, the user’s body temperature drops (hypothermia) and their heartbeat and breathing slow down. The user will also experience drowsiness lasting for several hours.

Once the effects of heroin wear off, the main goal of a heroin user is to avoid withdrawal symptoms that include:

  • Severe aches and pains
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Restlessness
  • Heightened sexual performance and social confidence

Heroin can be injected, smoked or sniffed. Regardless of the route of transfer, the high only lasts a few minutes, so the user must increase the frequency and the amount of heroin dosage they take to be able to function throughout the day.

Effects of Heroin Long Term

Heroin abuse long term accelerates the deterioration of bodily functions due to frequent injections which result in collapsed veins and infections to the heart valves and blood vessels that result from the heroin addict using dirty needles. Long-term heroin addiction can also cause a user to develop:

  • Tuberculosis- lowered immune defense
  • Arthritis- damage to the joints
  • Skin abscesses
  • AIDS and other contagious infections
  • Hepatitis C
  • Bad teeth, swollen gums
  • Constipation
  • Itching
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Cold sweats
  • Muscular weakness, partial paralysis
  • Decreased ability to perform sexually leading to impotence in men
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Orgasm failure in women and men
  • Loss of memory and intellectual performance
  • Increased isolation
  • Depression
  • Accelerated destruction of vital organs
  • Coma
  • Death as a result of an overdose

Social Effects of Heroin Abuse

Heroin is a highly addictive, illegal drug that shuts users off from the real world. As the user craves heroin more and more, other aspects of their life suffer. They often lose the respect and trust from their family and friends, lose their jobs, lose their possessions, and even lose their freedom when they start stealing to support their habit. Moreover, heroin users become more exposed to crime and assault against them.

The above effects clearly indicate the need for addressing heroin addiction in a comprehensive program that targets the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual components consecutively for more favorable and lasting results.

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