Over 4.2 million Americans have admitted to having tried heroin at least once during their lifetime. Researchers are also noting that the use of this drug has greatly increased in recent years. Experts estimate that almost 25% of individuals who try the drug become addicted. The addiction to this powerfully hazardous opioid is extremely difficult to overcome on your own.
Benefits of Receiving Heroin Detox Prior to Receiving Medication-Assisted Treatment
In addition to the countless multitude of health problems that are caused by the use of heroin, those who use the drug through intravenous injection are at risk for numerous blood-borne diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. On top of the many health problems that are caused by heroin use, there is also danger in the drug’s high rate of abuse, tolerance, and addiction. Tolerance occurs when the individual using the drug needs to increase the dosage in order to achieve the same effect. This increased dosage also increases the risk of overdosing.
The first step in treating heroin addiction is removing all traces of the drug from the body (this is the route taken in most cases of chemical dependency). This first step is referred to as detoxification, more commonly known simply as detox. The body of an individual who has become dependent upon heroin has adapted to the presence of the drug and will negatively respond once the drug is not used as usual. This negative experience is also referred to as withdrawal, which can cause a considerable amount of both physical and psychological pain.
The most common symptoms that are experienced during heroin withdrawal are as follows:
- Excessive perspiration
- Dizziness and confusion
- Dilated pupils
- Powerful drug cravings
- Dramatic mood swings
- Watery eyes and runny nose
- Abdominal cramping
- Disrupted sleep patterns, including insomnia
- Extreme fatigue and weakness
These symptoms can last for weeks and are often compared to a powerful and painful strain of the flu. Once heroin is reintroduced into the bloodstream, these symptoms will disappear, which can result in individuals reverting back to the use of the drug.
Benefits of Detoxing from Heroin with Medication-Assisted Treatment
Benefits of Receiving Heroin Detox Prior to Receiving Medication-Assisted Treatment: The process of heroin detoxification does not need to be long, painful, or dangerous. Seeking treatment at a licensed treatment center can diminish the physical and emotional pain that is often associated with withdrawal. While the words “heroin detox” and “effortless” are rarely found together in the same phrase, going through detoxification while under the care of trained medical professionals increases the safety of the experience and lessens the potential perils.
Just as its name suggests, medication-assisted detoxification includes the use of regulated prescription medications. These carefully adjusted medications clear the body of heroin without producing the physical and emotional pains that would result if actual heroin were to be introduced into the body. Medications that have proven to be effective include methadone, Suboxone (which is a combination of naloxone and buprenorphine), Vivitrol, and Subutex. When methadone or buprenorphine (Suboxone or Subutex) are used during detox, the onset of symptoms that typically occur with withdrawal are avoided. Powerful cravings for the drug are avoided since methadone and buprenorphine interact with the same brain receptors that become triggered when heroin is used. However, the euphoric high that is produced by heroin is absent in methadone and buprenorphine. Because these receptors become activated, withdrawal does not occur and the patient does not become cognitively impaired. Since mental capacity is not affected, individuals on methadone or buprenorphine can go about daily life in a normal fashion, including driving, attending work and school, as well as participating in therapy. Many patients decide to go through detox with methadone or buprenorphine and wean themselves off of these medications while other patients choose the route of moving from detox to long-term medication-assisted maintenance.
Benefits of Detoxing from Heroin with Medication-Assisted Treatment: Individuals who attempt to go through heroin withdrawal on their own often experience irritation and discomfort. Without working with a qualified professional, many heroin users fail in these unaccompanied detox endeavors. Many individuals who attempt to get themselves clean find that the pain (both physical and psychological) of withdrawal drives them back into using heroin. The subsequent irritation and sense of letdown can cause depression and low self-esteem. These emotions can increase the likelihood of resorting back to heroin use or the use of other illicit substances. Finding the path back to recovery becomes much more problematic once the use of heroin increases.
At Central Virginia Comprehensive Treatment Centers, specialists in every aspect of medication-assisted treatment are readily available to ensure that the entire process is tailored to meet the individualized needs of each patient. From initial detox through long-term maintenance, our medical personnel guarantee that all patients receive safe, suitable, and effective medications. Counselors and additional specialists assist patients to not only address, but to recognize the underlying circumstances that may have added to or have been caused by their heroin use. This customized process increases the likelihood of success for each patient. Central Virginia Comprehensive Treatment Centers provides not only the medication and knowledge required for detox but also the tools required for a successful long-term recovery.