Many recovering drug addicts have the impression that after detox and rehab there will no longer have to deal with heroin effects. Unfortunately, this misconception often leads to relapse. It is important to note that relapse is dangerous at this point because the person has been through detox and their body no longer has the tolerance levels as before. Taking the usual amount of heroin they were once used to can cause overdose or even death.
Long-Term Heroin Effects on the Body
Although many of the effects of heroin are eliminated after detox, some remaining damages to the mind and body are often difficult to reverse. For instance, heroin changes the physiology or physical structure of the brain causing some deterioration of white matter. In this way, it causes long-term neuronal and hormonal imbalances that affect the ability to regulate behavior, to make sound decisions, or to respond appropriately to stressful situations.
Additionally, a recovering heroin addict will often experience long-term effects such as short cycles of depression, cold sweats, anxiety, and several other symptoms that take a long time to overcome.
Some of the more dangerous long-term effects of heroin include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Kidney or liver disease
- Permanently scarred or collapsed veins from injections of heroin
- Blood-borne diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B or C
- Rheumatologic complications, arthritis
- Depression that can potentially lead to suicide
All in all, heroin is a difficult addiction to overcome completely. Some addicts struggle for years to manage the lingering after-effects. The important thing to remember is that continued abuse of heroin will potentially result in needless death.
Facts About Treatment for Heroin Addiction
Heroin is one of the hardest drug addictions to overcome. However, treatment in an inpatient facility has proven to be highly effective in helping a person learn how to maintain sobriety. It is important to note that heroin addiction is comprised of both physiological and psychological factors. To fully recover, the individual must undergo professional detox followed by long-term treatment in a residential facility. In this way, the body is cleansed of all traces of the drug and the mind learns improved methods of dealing with everyday situations without the need for addictive substances as an escape measure.
Some of the benefits of inpatient rehabilitation programs include:
- Comforting, secure environment
- Skilled, compassionate staff
- Credentialled counselors
- Nutritious meals
- Monitoring and supervision 24/7
- Training, activities, and classes that build confidence
- Support and guidance as needed
- Counseling sessions to help rebuild self-esteem
- Music and art therapy
- Detox on site, depending on the facility involved
- Aftercare services
In some cases, heroin detox involves the need for medication during withdrawals. This procedure is conducted under strict medical supervision. After detox, some patients may require a maintenance drug such as methadone to help them resist cravings for a few months or more. Unfortunately, methadone does carry a high risk for abuse or addiction if the person increases the dosage. For this reason, methadone is not prescribed as a maintenance drug unless necessary.
How to Begin Finding Treatment
In the US today, there is an abundance of affordable addiction treatment facilities in every state across the country. Start with your location and find the nearest facilities that are equipped to treat heroin addiction. Next, make a list of questions you want to ask. Then, call the facility and talk with a representative or intake counselor. They will be happy to speak with you and answer your questions about heroin effects and treatment options. If you wish, they will conduct a confidential assessment and recommend a program best suited for your needs. If you are ready to leave heroin addiction behind, the best time to begin is now.