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Heroin Dependence – Signs of Heroin Use Vs. Abuse, Tolerance

Is Heroin Addictive?

How addictive is heroin? Heroin is an extremely addictive drug, and the consequence of its abuse can go beyond the particular user. The social and medical consequences of heroin abuse include tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, crime, fetal effects, violence, and troubles in the workplace, family, and educational settings. Heroin was initially recognized in medicine as a panacea, or a cure-all for all diseases. Only in the 1900s did scientists come to understand the potential dangers of using heroin. Medically, heroin imitates the functions of the natural chemicals found in the brain-to minimize the sensation of pain and to activate the brain’s “pleasure areas.” You can call 1-888-803-9961 Who Answers? for further information about heroin addiction and abuse.

Understanding Heroin Dependency and Tolerance

Heroin dependency occurs when people continue to use the drug despite the negative repercussions it has on their lives. Physical dependence involves the need for more and more dosages every time. When drug use is discontinued instantly, patients experience withdrawal symptoms. Psychological dependence is shown when satisfying the need becomes the main motivating force in the patient’s life. The effect of heroin on the body depends on the individual person taking it, and the occurrence of addiction is not predictable. Interestingly, our bodies are very adaptable to changes and adjust themselves naturally after continued heroin use. As a result, our bodies will demand greater dosages to satisfy the same feeling of a high we get when using heroin. This is where tolerance comes into the picture. When a user eventually tries to do away with the drug, painful withdrawal symptoms ensue. You may fill out and submit a contact form for further information about dependency and tolerance factors associated with heroin abuse.

Effects/Side Effects

After taking heroin-whether through injection or inhalation-abusers report experiencing elation, or a rush. The level of the rush depends on the quantity of the drug being taken and the speed at which the drug enters the brain. The initial effects of using heroin include an arid mouth, hot flushes on the skin, and a bad sensation in the extremities. These are usually accompanied by vomiting, nausea, and extreme itchiness. Following the initial effects, abusers typically become lethargic for a few hours as they come down from heroin use. Their heartbeat and breathing are heavy. The depressing effect of heroin on the central nervous system will result in a cloudy intellectual functioning. The first long-term effect of using heroin is of course addiction, which occurs with regular use.

The other long-term effects include:

  • Collapsed veins
  • Blisters
  • Damage to the lining and valves of the heart
  • Liver disease
  • Cellulitis
  • Lung complications
  • Damaged teeth
  • Constipation
  • Coma
  • Muscular feebleness or temporary paralysis
  • Depression
  • Becoming introverted
  • Lack of appetite
  • Cold perspirations
  • Sleeping problems
  • A weak immune system
  • Impotence (in men)
  • Reduced sexual function
  • Menstrual disruption (among women)
  • Gum inflammation

Withdrawal and Detoxification

Withdrawal from heroin takes place when the medication is withheld or the dosage is lessened. Withdrawal symptoms may occur in just a few hours following the last injection or inhalation of heroin. These symptoms include fidgety behaviors, bone and muscle discomfort and pain, sleeping difficulties, vomiting, diarrhea, cold flashes with “cold turkey,” and kicking actions. Unrelenting abuse or relapse may continue because abusers normally experience extreme yearning for the drug during the withdrawal period. However, the most severe withdrawal symptoms occur from 48 to 72 hours following the last administration of the drug but normally abate after one week. Some people may experience tenacious withdrawal symptoms for months. Heroin withdrawal is recognized as being less fatal than barbiturate or alcohol withdrawal. Still, profoundly dependent heroin users with poor health conditions are warned of abrupt withdrawal, as this is being proved deadly in some cases.

Heroin detoxification, the process of gradually getting rid of heroin using lawfully recommended medications, can help patients ease their withdrawal symptoms. One method is to substitute methadone maintenance for heroin on a daily basis. Detoxification through the application of general anesthesia is not safe and unreliable, according to a study in Columbia. The abrupt absence of heroin during the time of detoxification will lead to diarrhea, nausea, insomnia, stomach pain, and bad temper.

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

There are a number of heroin abuse treatments available. These include behavioral therapies and medications. Among the most commonly used medications are methadone, naloxone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine. Treatment basically starts with a medically controlled detoxification process to help abusers let go of heroin dependence safely. During this phase, the medications discussed above can help reduce withdrawal symptoms. However, detoxification should not be used all by itself as a treatment option.