Heroin addiction affects millions of families each year. The drug is highly addictive and causes severe, long-lasting side effects if left untreated. In addition, abusing heroin increases a person’s risk of developing mental health disorders. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, “4.0 million adults met the criteria for both serious mental illness and substance dependence or abuse in the past year.” Treatment must address the root causes of addictive behaviors and any underlying trauma or co-occurring disorders to ensure the best outcome. Exclusive Hawaii Rehab is the only treatment facility in Hawaii certified to provide primary mental health treatment. The clinical team uses evidence-based and alternative holistic therapies to treat SUD and co-occurring conditions.

What Is Heroin?

Heroin is an opioid made from morphine. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), “Heroin is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.” Many people use the drug to self-medicate untreated mental health issues or chronic pain. Thousands of individuals die from heroin misuse each year. Early intervention and treatment is the best way to reduce the adverse effects of heroin misuse.

Heroin is frequently mixed with other substances by drug producers to increase profits. Individuals buying heroin cannot know what other substances were incorporated into it. Some of the most common substances mixed into heroin include:

  • Baking soda
  • Sugar
  • Powdered milk
  • Starch
  • Over-the-counter painkillers
  • Talcum powder
  • Rat poison
  • Laundry detergent
  • Caffeine

The inconsistency of heroin quality and content increases the risk of an overdose. Even a single instance of using heroin can be deadly. Individuals who misuse multiple substances have a higher risk of experiencing severe health complications, overdose, or death.

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Common Signs of Heroin Abuse

Everyone responds to the symptoms and side effects of heroin addiction in different ways. Some people have better coping skills and stronger support systems to help them function despite their addictive behaviors. Other individuals may have no support and exhibit more severe symptoms.

A few signs of heroin abuse include the following:

  • Inability to focus
  • Changes to appetite leading to significant weight loss or gain
  • Experiencing moments of semi-consciousness
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Unusual aggression
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Extreme changes in energy levels and engagement
  • Uncharacteristic risk-taking and impulsive behaviors
  • Extreme mood swings

Withdrawal symptoms generally start within 24 hours after someone stops using the drug. According to MedlinePlus, “If dependent users stop heroin, they have withdrawal symptoms,” including “restlessness, muscle and bone pain, diarrhea and vomiting, and cold flashes with goose bumps.” People who misuse heroin take the drug frequently to reduce how often they experience withdrawal. However, family members and friends benefit from knowing withdrawal symptoms to identify signs of dependency or addiction.

How Does Heroin Affect Mental and Physical Health?

The addictive nature of the drug is due to how it interacts with the brain. Heroin also affects many other body systems. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “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.” Opioids like heroin also affect dopamine regulation and other neurotransmitters.

The effects of heroin misuse vary depending on a person’s health and resources. Some of the physical and mental consequences of heroin use include:

  • Social isolation and loneliness
  • Increased risk of severe health complications
  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • Increased risk of accidental death or severe injury

Sexual dysfunction is another common side effect of chronic heroin use. Women may experience inconsistent periods, while men often report impotence.

Experience True Healing

Our deeply-caring staff and the surrounding natural beauty offer an unparalleled healing experience.

Treatment Options at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

Early intervention and treatment is the best way to reduce the risk of severe symptoms or side effects related to heroin misuse. Recovery programs allow clients to address the underlying issues and identify the root cause of their disordered thinking while receiving high-quality treatment to manage their condition.

Exclusive Hawaii Rehab offers a wide range of treatment modalities, including:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Prescription medications
  • Peer support
  • Alternative holistic therapies
  • Naturopathic medicine

Many people with SUD have underlying health issues affecting their recovery. Treatment programs at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab provide a holistic approach to recovery, ensuring clients receive the care they need to heal from the inside out. Naturopathic medicine and other alternative holistic therapies help clients heal their bodies from the damage caused by addiction.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Heroin is a dangerous drug. The detoxification process often requires medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to reduce the risk of relapse and manage symptoms. MAT combines psychotherapy and other support services with prescription medications to slowly taper clients off heroin in a safe and controlled way. The MAT process is effective and relatively quick. Clients usually taper off heroin and MAT medication within five to 10 days.

The most common medications used to taper clients off heroin include:

  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone
  • Naltrexone

Exclusive Hawaii Rehab provides clients with the resources and services they need to safely detox and successfully recover from SUD involving heroin. The care team is dedicated to ensuring clients and their families have the information they need to make educated decisions about their health and treatment. Programs are personalized and holistic, addressing all underlying issues and ensuring clients have access to MAT or other essential services.