Signs of Heroin use and addiction include: itchy skin and constant scratching, chronic drowsiness or grogginess, dry mouth, impaired judgment, lowered body temperature, slowed breathing and heart rate, constricted pupils, vomiting, evidence of drug paraphernalia such as burnt spoons, syringes, injection kits, sleep difficulties, malnutrition, long sleeves worn in warm weather (to hide needle marks), withdrawal from others, loss of motivation or diminished plans for the future, spending money for undisclosed purposes, “losing” one’s own or a friend’s property, needing increasing amounts of the drug to feel the same effect, inability to cut down, and continued use despite negative consequences.
Symptoms of withdrawal include: runny nose, painful muscle spasms, severe abdominal cramps, body tremors, pounding heart, rapid breathing, heavy perspiration, chills, anxiety, irritability, severe nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and extreme fatigue.
Symptoms of overdose include: shallow or labored breathing, weak pulse, pinpoint pupils, bluish tinge to lips and fingers, delirium, and unconsciousness. Call for emergency medical help immediately; a heroin overdose is potentially life-threatening. After the immediate danger is dealt with, do everything possible to persuade the patient to continue to heroin and treatment. He/she is at high risk of overdosing again.
How Does Recovery Centers of America Treat Heroin Addiction?
A range of treatments including medications and behavioral therapies have been shown to be effective in helping people stop heroin use. It’s important to match the treatment approach to specific needs of each individual patient.
For patients desiring detoxification and treatment for heroin:
Detoxification from Heroin dependence or addiction is profoundly uncomfortable if done without medical intervention and supervision. It can be life-threatening if the individual is also abusing other drugs such as alcohol or a class of medications known as Benzodiazepines (such as Xanax, Klonopin, Alprazolam, or others).
That said, heroin is a relatively short-acting opioid, this means you feel the effects rapidly and that it is processed through the body fairly quickly. Withdrawal symptoms can start as soon as 6 hours after the last dose, but generally are strongest 36-72 hours after the last dose. Physiological withdrawal generally lasts 5-9 days but can longer for some patients. The severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms will vary based on the amount of heroin used, over what period of time, and the route of administration (intranasal, smoking, injecting).
RCA will monitor the patient round the clock, continually evaluating physiological and psychological symptoms and will use medications to control many of these symptoms. Medications that may be used include opioids to wean off the heroin and palliative or “comfort” medications such as Clonodine, Robaxin, Trazadone, Phenobarbital, Bentyl, Librium, and others.
As noted above, physical/medical aspects of detoxification may last up to 10 days before patients are medically stable. This doesn’t mean they don’t still have symptoms, just that those symptoms may not require round the clock, constant medical attention. Psychiatric symptoms and cravings can continue intermittently for many months.
At intake, RCA staff administer the assessment in a calm environment, providing something to eat and beverages to keep the individual comfortable. If the individual finds it difficult to participate due to an inability to concentrate or onset of withdrawal symptoms, the assessment can be divided into smaller sections.
RCA staff provide a clear orientation to the treatment choices, the process, program rules, and expectations for participation to ensure each patient knows their options and to assist in decreasing any externally related anxiety about the treatment process.
At RCA, we know detoxification doesn’t need to be painful to be effective. A controlled tapering, alleviating many withdrawal symptoms with medications (as noted previously) is the safest, most tolerable method, resulting in the least discomfort.
As with any disorder, it’s also very important to involve significant others. During the initial assessment and intake processes, RCA identifies family members or significant others who will support the patient and their treatment goals and get them involved immediately.
After medical detoxification, treatment will include additional small group therapy sessions, individual sessions, educational seminars, and workshops. For our patients struggling with Heroin, additional services to assist with calming the body and the mind such as mindful meditation, yoga, progressive relaxation, and other therapeutic techniques are provided.
Through wellness seminars, life skills workshops, and various therapies, RCA focuses patients on developing a balanced lifestyle that includes restoring healthy eating and sleeping habits, participation in physical exercise and recreational activities, as well as building healthy relationships and a healthy support group to get them started on the road to long-term recovery.What are the signs of Heroin use?