Heroin and other opioids are well-known as some of the most addictive drugs available. While heroin is a street drug that most people begin abusing after using other drugs, many opioids come in prescription form—which means many people who become dependent on opioids start taking them because their doctor prescribed them.
Opioid addiction and dependence can make life increasingly difficult and lead to health complications, which is why it is important to seek treatment if you or a loved one are suffering from either of these issues. Fortunately, there are a number of detox and treatment programs available throughout the state of Minnesota.
What Causes Addiction To Opioids?
The primary purpose of prescription opioids is for pain relief. The drugs attach to opioid receptors in the brain in a way that helps ease or eliminate pain, whether the pain results from surgery, chronic conditions, an injury, or other source. Unfortunately, opioids also produce a sense of euphoria. The sense of euphoria is what leads some people to continue taking opioids after they no longer need them, to take more than prescribed, and to seek out the drugs for recreational use.
The flood endorphins produced by taking opioids is highly stimulating to the brain, which is why taking the drugs tends to create a sense of euphoria. However, the excess endorphins cause the body to stop producing its own endorphins. When a person stops taking the opioids, he or she is left with little to no endorphins in the brain for a period of time. The lack of feel-good chemicals in the brain leads to depression, lethargy, mood swings, and other unpleasant side-effects. The most convenient solution to eliminate these side effects is to take more opioids, creating a dependence, a need for the drug in order to feel good.
Opioid-dependent people can quickly develop a tolerance to the drug, which means they need to take a higher dose to produce the same effects. Addiction is a word that describes the cyclical nature of drug dependence. You must keep taking the drug, often at higher and higher doses, to feel normal. And when you stop taking the drug, either because you want to quit or because you no longer have access to it, then you begin to experience the negative side effects, or withdrawal symptoms.
It is unfortunate that in the case of opioids, many people who become dependent did not start out seeking the drugs for recreational purposes. They were prescribed the drug by their doctor for a specific reason, and over time became dependent on the drug.
Heroin is the street name for a drug derived from morphine. It is either smoked, snorted, or injected. Heroin is highly addictive. Because it is a street drug, it is also unpredictable. It can be cut with any number of substances, some of them deadly. The person taking the drug does not know what is in the drug he or she buys, so is always at risk of taking too strong a dose, which can lead to overdose, or to taking something that is toxic.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), 114 people died of complications related to heroin use from 2014 through 2015. In comparison, 216 people died of complications related to other opioid pain relievers. The statistics provided by the MDH show that middle-aged adults are the most common overdose victims in Minnesota.
Detox And Treatment For Heroin And Opioids
Detox and treatment for heroin and opioids can be highly effective, especially when overseen by qualified healthcare professionals.
Detoxification is a term that describes the initial process of ending drug use. Heroin and opioids are powerful drugs that can greatly alter your physiology. When you stop taking the drug, your body must adjust to its absence, which leads to withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms will persist until your body has returned to its normal state prior to using the drug.
Withdrawal symptoms from heroin and opioids include:
- Flu-like symptoms
Detoxification from heroin and other opioids can be extremely uncomfortable. Most people who attempt to detox on their own end up using opioids again to relieve the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Medically-assisted detox provides a much better alternative to detoxing on your own. With medically-assisted detox, you go through detox under the supervision of a healthcare professional. Detox centers have extensive experience with opioid withdrawal, and can provide medication and support to make the process much less painful and much more likely to be successful.
It is necessary to go through detox before you enter treatment for opioid dependence. Treatment is most likely to be effective if you have already passed through the worst of withdrawal and allowed your body to return to a more normal, healthy state.
There are a number of different treatment options available for heroin and opioid dependence. You can choose a treatment option that fits your unique circumstances. However, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional who specializes in drug dependence treatments to determine which treatment option is most likely to be successful for your individual needs.
Inpatient treatment is most often recommended for those suffering from heroin or opioid dependency. With inpatient treatment, you stay at a treatment center for a specific amount of time, often 30 to 45 days, and go through a range of treatments to help you on the path to recovery. Inpatient treatment is effective because it allows you to remove yourself from the environment where your substance abuse occurred, while getting round-the-clock care from a professional team dedicated to your recovery.
Inpatient treatment may include:
- Group Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
- Holistic Treatments
- Adventure Therapy
Inpatient treatment is the standard for those struggling with heroin and opioid dependence because it is effective. Day in and day out, you will be focusing on leaving the harmful substances behind and building skills that will allow you to lead a life without drugs. You will be supported by professionals who want you to succeed, and who have the tools and training to ensure that you do.
With outpatient treatment, you are able to continue to take care of your obligations, like work, school and family, while periodically getting treatment at a treatment center. Many of the treatments are similar to those at the inpatient center, including CBT, DBT, and group therapy, but treatment usually occurs only two or three times a week.
Outpatient treatment is sometimes an option for heroin and opioid addiction and dependence, although in most cases it is better to seek inpatient care initially. Often outpatient treatment is valuable for those who have already completed inpatient treatment and need continuing support as they transition back into their day-to-day lives.
There are several different medications that can make recovery from heroin and opioid addiction and dependence easier. Methadone is the most widely known, where the patient makes visits to the methadone clinic for a dose of medication that eases withdrawal symptoms. Newer medications like buprenorphine (Suboxone, Zubsolv) are also an option, and do not require you to go to a clinic each day to get your medication.
You can discuss medication-assisted treatment at your treatment center, and get personalized advice about which option will work best for you.
Treatment Centers In Minnesota
We can help you to find the right treatment center in your area. At DrugRehab.org, we are committed to helping people from all walks of life to recover from drug addiction and dependence issues. We understand how hard it can be to personally struggle and how difficult it can be to see a loved one struggle. We want you to know that solutions are out there.
Please contact us at DrugRehab.org today to learn more about your treatment options in Minnesota. We are here to answer your questions and help you get started on the path to recovery!