In recent years, use of heroin has reached nearly epidemic levels in Australia. This is especially true for young people. According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, nearly 2 percent of Australians ages 14 and older have used the drug before, and those numbers are steadily increasing (source).
What is Heroin?
This drug belongs to a class of substances known as depressants. Depressants, or “downers,” work by slowing down the messages that travel between the brain and the nervous system. It is also considered an opiate and is even more addictive than prescription opioids (source).
The drug can be found in a few different forms, including:
– Coarse, salt-like granules
– Small pieces of brown “rock,” similar in appearance to rock lollies
– Fine, white powder
The powder can be snorted, but it is also sometimes smoked either alone or mixed with tobacco or Marijuana. It can also be injected into a vein, which many addicts prefer because of the immediate effect it gives (source).
Typically, when smoked or injected, the high is immediate. If the powder is snorted, it can take up to 15 minutes for the full effects to be felt. (source).
Why is This Drug So Addictive?
The primary reason this drug is one of the most dangerously addictive substances is because of the intense high it creates. Once inside the body, it is rushed to the brain’s opioid receptors and eventually triggers the release of a chemical called dopamine.
Dopamine is responsible for imparting feelings of reward and pleasure, which is directly tied to users becoming conditioned to using repeatedly.
Unfortunately, because the high doesn’t last very long, it’s easy for users to begin craving more of the drug to achieve the same feelings of euphoria that came with their first high. The body builds up a tolerance to the drug fairly quickly, so the feelings of pleasure begin to diminish unless the user ups the dosage or finds more potent versions of it (source).
What Are the Effects of Usage?
With each injection, users typically experience the following effects for three to five hours: slowed breathing, reduced appetite, relaxation, pleasure and pain relief.
While those few effects are not inherently bad, there are many other side effects that can cause severe problems, such as: vomiting, irregular heart rate, confusion, slurred speech and vision, temperature change, and many others.
Due to how rapidly the body can build a tolerance to the drug, it is unfortunately easy to overdose. This is especially true if it is mixed with other narcotics, over-the-counter medications or alcohol.
Besides the physical effects, drug abuse has serious psychological effects as well. Often, relationships are damaged, basic needs like eating and bathing are neglected, and personal issues such as career and finances are ignored.
What to Expect During Withdrawal
Taking the first steps toward being clean can be difficult, especially when it comes to detoxing. In the case of opioids in particular, it is important to detox under the supervision of professionals. The symptoms of withdrawal can be severe, and a few can be life-threatening, so it is best to have medical assistance nearby during this process.
In addition, there is a much higher rate of relapse during the withdrawal period. This isn’t a sign of weakness. Rather, it’s because it can take a tremendous amount of willpower to start weaning off of a drug, and without support, it can feel overwhelming.
Typically, withdrawal can start within hours of the last dose. Early withdrawal symptoms include:
– Intense cravings
– Vomiting and diarrhoea
– Severe mood swings
– Sudden bouts of tears
– Bone and joint pain
– Muscle spasms and cramps
After the first 72 hours, the symptoms below may present and last up to 14 days:
– Racing heart
What Will My Life Be Like Clean from Heroin?
Most users who get clean describe life after drugs as euphoric. There is no longer a dark weight of guilt, anxiety and oppression hanging over them, and they describe feeling a sense of hope and purpose again.
Getting clean means that it will be possible to take steps towards recovering relationships with friends and family. With sobriety comes more opportunities to become financially stable and find an enjoyable career too.
Without the constant worry of finding the next high, people say that they have much more free time and a renewed appreciation for life. Often, mental health improves just as much as physical health, which can lead to more opportunities for exploring better options for work, study and hobbies.
REFOCUS Can Help Change Your Life
Residential heroin rehab treatment can be the difference between a fulfilling, clean life or a life poisoned by addiction. There is no judgment, and clients are surrounded by support from counsellors and, medical staff, as well as other clients who are walking the same path towards being clean.
Our programs utilise a variety of treatments, including:
– Cognitive behavioural therapy
– Group therapy sessions
– Stress management training
We ensure the environment is warm, welcoming and private so that every person feels comfortable and safe during their stay with us.
Please know that you are not alone. Whether you’re struggling with addiction, or you have a loved one who is in the grip of drug dependence, feel free to call at any time to request more information or a Facility tour. We want to help you regain control and live a life free of addiction.
REFOCUS Can Help Change Your Life