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Drug Rehabs - Heroin Addiction

12/26/2006

Heroin Addiction

Most heroin addicts tell themselves that they can conquer their addiction on their own without the help of outside resources. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case.

Research into the effects of long-term heroin addiction has shown that substantial changes in the way the brain functions are present long after the addict has stopped using drugs. Anyone addicted to drugs who wishes to recover from their addiction, needs more than just strong will power to accomplish a successful recovery.

How heroin is used:

Heroin is usually injected, sniffed/snorted, or smoked. Typically, a heroin abuser may inject up to four times a day. Intravenous injection of heroin provide the greatest intensity and most rapid onset of euphoria (7 to 8 seconds), while musculature injection produces a relatively slow onset of euphoria (5 to 8 minutes). When heroin is sniffed or smoked, peak effects are usually felt within 10 to 15 minutes. Smoking and sniffing heroin do not produce a "rush" as quickly or as intensely as intravenous injection.

Injection continues to be the main method of use among heroin addicts; however, researchers have observed a shift in heroin use patterns, from injection to sniffing and smoking. In fact, sniffing/snorting heroin is now a widely reported means of taking heroin.

With the shift in heroin abuse patterns comes an even more diverse group of users. Older users (over 30) continue to be one of the largest user groups in most national data. However, several sources indicate an increase in new young heroin users. They are being lured by inexpensive, high-purity heroin that can be sniffed or smoked instead of injected.

Addiction  to heroin is a chronic problem, characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, and by neurochemical and molecular changes in the brain. Heroin also produces profound degrees of tolerance and physical dependence, which are also powerful motivating factors for compulsive use and abuse. Heroin addicts gradually spend more and more time and energy obtaining and using the drug. Once they are addicted, the heroin abusers' primary purpose in life becomes seeking and using drugs. The drugs change their brains, bodies and personalities.

Physical dependence develops with higher doses of heroin. With physical dependence, the body adapts to the presence of heroin and withdrawal symptoms occur if use is reduced abruptly. Heroin withdrawal may occur within a few hours after the last time the drug is taken. Symptoms of heroin withdrawal include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps ("cold turkey"), and leg movements. Major heroin withdrawal symptoms peak between 24 and 48 hours after the last dose of heroin and subside after about a week. However, some people have shown persistent withdrawal signs for many months. Heroin withdrawal is never fatal to otherwise healthy adults, but it can cause death to the fetus of a pregnant addict.

Physical dependence and the emergence of withdrawal symptoms were once believed to be the key features of heroin addiction. We now know this may not be the case entirely, since craving and relapse can occur weeks and months after heroin withdrawal symptoms are long gone.

Medical consequences of chronic heroin abuse include scarred and/or collapsed veins, bacterial infections of the blood vessels and heart valves, abscesses (boils) and other soft-tissue infections, and liver or kidney disease. Lung complications (including various types of pneumonia and tuberculosis) may result from the poor health condition of the abuser as well as from heroin's depressing effects on respiration. Many of the additives in street heroin may include substances that do not readily dissolve and result in clogging the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain. This can cause infection or even death of small patches of cells in vital organs.

One of the greatest risks of being a heroin addict is death from heroin overdose. Each year about one percent of all heroin addicts in the United States die from an overdose of heroin despite having developed a tolerance to the effects of the heroin. In a non-tolerant person the estimated lethal dose of heroin may range from 200 to 500 mg, but addicts have tolerated doses as high as 1800 mg without even being sick.

For help with overcoming heroin addiction here are resources for finding good drug rehabs:

Drug Rehabs that use successful drug rehab programs
http://www.drug-rehab.us/

Drug Rehabs in Canada that use successful drug rehab programs
http://www.DrugAddictionTreatment.ca

Help with drug addiction and alcoholism
http://www.DrugAddictionSolutions.com/

Drug Rehabs that work recourse site
http://www.addiction-rehab-success.com/

Drug Rehabs for cocaine addiction and other drugs
http://www.cocaineaddictiontreatment.org/

Help with finding successful drug rehab programs
http://www.drug-rehab-addiction-treatment.org/

Resources for parents to find good drug rehab programs
http://www.DrugAddictionHelpline.com/

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