Heroin withdrawal symptoms are largely in line with how much the brain depends on heroin and how much of its chemical structure has changed due to abuse. The range of heroin withdrawal symptoms include:
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Counselling is an integral component in heroin addiction treatment since addiction is more than just physical dependence. Once the user has successfully detoxed, thereby eliminating the physical dependence, they are still at risk of relapsing. Psychological and social factors such as stress, social networks and environmental cues are often powerful stimuli for heroin relapse and can cause on-going cravings.
Heroin is an opiate drug that inhibits some of the central nervous system’s functions, such as blood pressure, heart rate, temperature regulation and respiration. In addition, heroin binds to opioid receptors, increasing the feel-good chemicals in the brain. When a person abuses heroin, they experience a rush of pleasure, and when the drug is removed, the opposite effect occurs.
Either way, treatment facilities offer extra assistance to recovering heroin addicts who use medication replacement. Whether heroin detox is practised with or without medications, any individual who has used heroin can start their journey towards recovery and achieve sobriety without drugs.
Study limitations include a small sample size and open label design without a control group. A little less than half the patients were treated with psychotropic medications. However, it is unlikely that this therapy contributed greatly to the resolution of psychiatric symptoms, other than insomnia, due to the short treatment duration. This study was not conducted on a research unit. Consequently, while nursing staff were trained to complete the CINA scale, there may not have been consistent interrater reliability. However, these authors believe that this treatment environment probably more closely mimics other urban inpatient facilities than a research setting might. Finally, although illicit drug use was not objectively monitored, patients were evaluated for subjective symptoms of intoxication by nursing staff and remained on a locked psychiatric unit throughout the detoxification. Many of these limitations are consistent with what would be expected in nonresearch setting (Wells, 1999). A larger study may further substantiate the findings.
Heroin addiction is a growing problem in the US, particularly among psychiatric patients. The number of heroin-related treatment admissions, emergency room visits, and overdose deaths has increased significantly over the past years. Incident estimates vary depending on the sampling procedure. However, 18% of patients treated by a nationally representative sample of psychiatrists in the US were diagnosed with at least one substance use disorder (Montoya et al., 2000). Another study conducted in a sample of 396 consecutively enrolled depressed patients found a 60% lifetime prevalence of substance dependence (Fava et al., 1996). An analysis of opioid-dependent patients seeking methadone maintenance treatment found that 47% had a psychiatric diagnosis other than substance abuse (Brooner, King, Kidorf, Schmidt, & Bigelow, 1997).
If you or someone you know is struggling with heroin addiction and withdrawal, now is the best time to seek help. Contact us now for a free consultation.