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Exploring treatments for heroin addiction

Exploring treatments for heroin addiction

20 April | 0 Comments | By Rachael

Heroin addiction is widely prevalent in the American society. Causing numerous deaths due to overdose, it is a major threat to public health across the country. Heroin has majorly contributed to the ongoing opioid crisis as people addicted to prescription painkillers resort to it due to easy availability and lower prices. An illicit opioid drug that is available in different forms ranging from powder to solid, heroin is either snorted, smoked or injected into the body.

Irrespective of the methods used, heroin causes same hazards in people taking the drug. As per experts, the drug starts altering the brain cells to lead to the development of an addiction from its very first dose. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), about 23 percent of people who use heroin become dependent on the substance eventually. The drug enters the brain rapidly and binds to opioid receptors on cells located in many areas, especially those involved in feelings of pain and pleasure.

Fortunately, heroin addiction can be treated with proper medical intervention and care that includes medications and behavioral therapies. Medicines prescribed for treating heroin addiction are basically of three types:

  • Opioid agonists: These medicines are used to activate the opioid receptors. The most commonly prescribed opioid agonist is methadone (Dolophine). It has been in use since 1960 and continues to be the most effective drug in treating heroin addiction. The drug works by reaching the brain slowly and diminish the “high” effect that may have occurred due to other medication used to reduce the withdrawal symptoms.
  • Partial agonists: As the name suggests, these medicines also attach to the opioid receptors. However, they produce a smaller response. Buprenorphine (Suboxone) is the most prescribed partial agonist as it relieves drug cravings without producing the “high” or dangerous side effects of other opioids.
  • Opioid antagonists: These are used to block the receptor and disrupt the rewarding effects of opioids. Naltrexon (Vivitrol) is highly recommended for treating heroin addiction as the medication blocks the opioid receptors sans an addictive or sedating effect, thereby eliminating the risk of physical dependence. However, its overall effectiveness is limited, and its alone use is not sufficient to treat heroin abuse.

Apart from medications, treatment for heroin addiction also includes behavioral therapies that help the recovering individual cope with the behavioral imbalances and mood shifts that often occur because of the abuse. Below are two most commonly used approaches to treat the addiction:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): The therapy primarily help modify the addictive behavior of the individual by training him/her how to deal with the triggers and stressors. It further replaces the urges and compulsive behavior with positive, sober and energetic thoughts.
  • Contingency management: This approach works by providing motivational incentives, such as vouchers or small cash rewards for positive behaviors like staying drug-free. These incentives are rewarded every time the individual achieves the given target or goal. Such incentives keep him/her motivated and encourage to win more.

Road to recovery

Heroin addiction can lead to death. Therefore, it is essential to seek immediate medical help with the onset of symptoms. Significantly, one should not self-medicate with other drugs or alcohol to get rid of the urges, as this may worsen the situation. Also, going cold turkey (abrupt ceasing of heroin intake) can make withdrawal symptoms painful and discomforting.

The first step to break free from addiction is to undergo a drug detox at a reputed rehab center. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction to heroin or any other drug, seek help from the Detox Facilities Texas. You can call at our 24/7 helpline number (866) 671-4308 or chat online with one of our experts to know about top-notch rapid detox centers in Texas. Our certified representative can also help you to connect with one of the best detox centers in Texas.