It is estimated that 75% of Heroin users have underlying mental health issues such as Anxiety, Depression, ADHD and Bi-Polar Disorder. Heroin is an illegal drug made from the opioid morphine painkiller made from the Poppy flower. Prescription painkiller drugs Oxycodone and Hydrocodone are also made from the Poppy plant. Some people use Heroin as a cheaper stronger alternative to prescription painkillers. Heroin may be mixed with other opioid painkiller drugs such as Fentanyl. This drug mixture has led to an increased Heroin overdose death rate in recent years. We will discuss about Heroin addiction treatment.
Heroin Use Risk Factors
Some known Heroin use risk factors include if there is a family history or a personal previous addiction to other drugs. Having a personal history of Depression or Anxiety or risk-taking behavior can also be a risk factor. Environment risk factors include being in contact with high risk individuals or high risk environments where there is drug use or tobacco use. Financial risk factors that may trigger Heroin use include being unemployed. Heroin can become addictive after a single use.
Long Term Intravenous Heroin Use
Long term Intravenous use of Heroin causes severe damage to the body. Sharing needles increases the risk of becoming infected with Hepatitis C or HIV. Infections that cause limbs needed to be amputated and collapsed veins and infections of the blood vessel and heart valves are other serious health risks. Breathing in vomit may infect the lungs or may cause choking which can lead to death.
Teeth may start to rot and skin abscess may develop and Heroin use is detrimental to the immune system which makes the user vulnerable to other diseases. Heroin use changes brain chemistry to produce less Dopamine which makes people feel depressed. More Heroin is then needed then to just feel okay to stop the feelings of Depression. Heroin use can also damage the brain composition in the brain stem that controls breathing, blood flow, digestion, the spinal cord and central nervous system. Being “on the nod” is the Heroin use symptoms which causes the user to lose consciousness on and off. Heroin use also affects the cerebral cortex, the largest part of the brain which controls the senses and the frontal cortex that controls thinking abilities. These types of brain damage can be permanent.
Heroin Addiction Treatment
Medications may be used to lessen withdrawal symptoms such as Buprenorphine and Methadone which are opioid receptors that are longer lasting than Heroin and considered safer. Naltrexone blocks opioid receptors in the brain so Heroin won’t have a pleasant effect on the body. Heroin affects these limbic brain chemical receptors so the brain associates taking Heroin with pleasure and wanting to repeat this experience. These receptors are part of the survival instinct that reinforces the want to find food that makes the body feel better.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is also used in Heroin Addiction treatment as a way to become aware of triggers that might cause the desire for Heroin use and the therapy treatment looks at thought patterns and how they may be contributing to self defeating actions and beliefs. CBT has been shown to improve brain functioning and is considered a viable treatment for Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Eating Disorders and Schizophrenia.
Heroin Addiction Treatment programs may use Contingency Management (CM) that offers payments or incentives for not using Heroin. The theory behind this type of therapy is that pleasant experiences will want to be repeated as operative conditioning. This type of behaviorism training is used in structured settings such as schools, prisons as well as Rehab treatment facilities. CM is of most benefit to those who are just starting their Heroin Addiction Treatment as the stark reality of the situation caused by Heroin use seems less rewarding than continuing to take Heroin. Family difficulties caused by the stress of interacting with a Heroin user, lack of employment and poor health can be triggers to relapse into using Heroin again.
There are 7 Principles used in CM that determines which principle should be used in the Heroin Addiction Treatment. The first principle is the Target Behavior whether a negative or positive behavior. The negative behavior to avoid would be purchasing or using Heroin. The positive behavior would be to cooperate in the treatment program of not using Heroin and working on repairing relationships. The second principle is deciding which people would benefit from CM treatment, like people new to the Heroin Addiction Treatment Program. How motivated a person is already is a key deciding factor in who is chosen for CM Treatment. The third principle is the choice of the reward that will used to reinforce the positive behavior. If the reward is not something valued or wanted it is less effective. Money can be an incentive for positive behavior or for some it can be a trigger to buy more Heroin.
The fourth principle of CM is Incentive Magnitude. This aspect of CM states that the bigger the incentive, the more effective the reinforcement of the positive behavior will be to the individual. Principle 5 of CM is the Schedule of Distribution of rewards. This schedule is determined by the individual’s temperament. Some people may need more frequent rewards to keep motivated. Principle 6 of CM is Timing of the incentive; the sooner after the positive behavior the reward takes place the more the behavior is associated with having a positive outcome. Principle 7 of CM is the Duration of the Intervention. For some people it will take longer to reinforce their behavior to make positive changes. When the CM treatment ends, behaviors that help prevent relapsing will be in place.
Heroin Addiction Treatment is a complex long-term type of substance abuse treatment. It involves help with withdrawal symptoms using medication which otherwise like using Heroin can be fatal. Intensive behavior modification like CM may also be needed to counteract the limbic brain chemistry changes caused by Heroin use. Positive relapse preventing support through CBT and positive network support also need to be established.