Creating a powerful addiction with heroin is relatively easy. The best indicator of an addiction is when a person has reached a point where there is compulsion to use drugs despite adverse consequences.
Heroin is particularly fast acting when snorted, injected or smoked. It quickly floods the user’s brain with a euphoric feeling. This ‘high’ comes on fast and recedes very quickly as well. The loss of the euphoric feeling is in such a sharp contrast that the addict seeks another high. This results in heroin use multiple times per day.
Therefore, a heroin addiction can develop rather quickly. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy to beat an addiction. Many addicts attempt to stop on their own. Most of the time this is not effective, but it is still possible.
Treatment will most likely be needed to beat a heroin habit. It is important to understand that treatment under three months is not considered very effective. Sometimes, treatment lasts a year or more.
Effective treatment involves many aspects of the addict’s life. He can be helped through a variety of services beyond basic treatment. Family counseling and the involvement of a family member during the addict’s treatment can be very helpful.
Often times an addict has a variety of health, social or mental disorders along with the addiction that makes it difficult to treat. All of these issues need to be addressed to help grant the greatest possibility of treatment success.
Chemically, methadone or similar medication can be used initially to stabilize the addict. But the need for treatment probably will not end when medication is no longer needed. There are still a variety of factors to address. Using medications can help avoid the behavioral problems that non-medication using addicts may suffer without the presence of heroin.
Users who attempt to use heroin while on methadone often find that the effects of heroin are largely blocked by the medication. This is an added benefit to using medication in conjunction with treatment.
Unfortunately, drug use leads to permanent changes in the brain. Social environment queues can trigger the wish to use the drug again. Certain smells, seeing someone that the addict knew during his addiction or a variety of other events or sensory stimuli can spark a desire to have heroin again.
Not surprisingly, many individuals may come to a drug treatment program via the criminal justice system. It is believed that the success rate for treating addicts caught by the system have about equal chances for success as those who come to treatment via other pathways.
Heroin addicts are at greater risk for contracting HIV due to the sharing of needles and perhaps by engaging in behaviors that allow for the financing of the drug use. Treatment has been shown to decrease the likelihood of HIV infection by up to six times.
The bottom line is that heroin addictions are treatable. Not all treatment programs have the same effectiveness. What works best will be specific to the individual. One treatment may not be enough to prevent a relapse. Do not be surprised if more than one treatment period is needed. The final goal is abstinence from the drug.
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If you or someone you love is addicted to heroin, you should seek the help of a physician and treatment as soon as possible.