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Author Archive: aenriquez

Why Getting a Dual Diagnosis in Important?

Dual diagnosis refers to a treatment facility for individuals who suffer from both mental illness and substance abuse. There are currently more than 50% of Americans suffering from psychological disorders, following substance abuse reports the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Many such individuals suffering from a mental condition rely on drugs and alcohol to relieve the symptoms. However, according to research, the unauthorized use of drugs worsens their mental illness.

Specialists provide that mental illness and substance recovery are two different cultures, and developing an integration between both can be challenging.

Dual Diagnosis treatment

More than 7.9 million individuals in America experience a breakdown of substance and mental disorder simultaneously. Out of this population, 4.1 million are men according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Symptoms

The symptoms of dual diagnosis vary extensively given the combination of several factors. Mental health clinics have started to study both substance and psychological screening tools to identify individuals who suffer from both conditions together. Some symptoms that share common ground are:

  • Introvert behavior
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Suicidal attempts or engagement in risky behavior
  • Lack of resistance to the use of substance
  • Developing withdrawal symptoms
  • The need to rely on drugs to survive.

Treatment options

Different dual diagnosis treatment centers have different treatments options available, depending on the extent of the individual’s condition. Even though treatments are designed after screening each patient separately, some of the common treatments used in dual diagnosis include the following:

  • Detoxification

It is mostly the first treatment used in dual diagnosis. The detoxification process requires an individual to undergo cleansing for seven days. In this, the body is cleansed of the toxins stored in the body.

  • Inpatient rehabilitation

Individuals suffering from drug dependency and mental illnesses may need an inpatient rehabilitation. In such situations, they can receive both psychological and health care under the guidance of psychiatrists and health specialists. The administration tapers the substance amount with other effective medicines to reduce the withdrawal effects.

  • Psychotherapy

This part of the treatment plays a significant role in dual diagnosis. A cognitive behavioral therapy, it helps individuals cope with the stressful thoughts. The specialists help patients modify their thinking patterns

  • Medication

Medications are used to treat psychological disorders. Some of these medications also help individuals cope with the withdrawal symptoms during detoxification. These are mostly muscle relaxants that help ease the nerves.

  • Support housing

In dual diagnosis, motivation plays a significant role. It can be challenging to feel as if you are suffering alone. Support groups help individuals share their negative thoughts, their happy thought and find their motivation for survival.

Conclusion

In dual diagnosis, an integrated approach to mental illness and substance abuse is used to treat both problems simultaneously. The treatment features helping patients cope with stress by enhancing their motivation, reducing triggers that may force them to take drugs, increasing their social skills and detoxifying their body.

Dual diagnosis is a smart move that provides support to patients who suffer from mental illness followed by drug abuse.

We have a surprise!

Dr. Michael S. Duffy, Sr., DO, Medical Director of one of San Diego’s leading addiction treatment facilities is proud to announce a strategic change in its Senior Leadership. 

Opioid and illicit drug use in San Diego is at an all time high.  According to the CDC, one of every three patients who were prescribed a 30-day supply of Opioids for the first time were found to be addicted one year later.  Dr. Duffy calls this …“a crisis impacting our mothers, our fathers, our brothers, our sisters and our children.  It is an Urgent call to San Diegan’s to understand and recognize addiction and seek help”.

Pacific Bay Recovery strives to meet and exceed community’s needs for those affected by or afflicted by addiction.  In its response to this crisis and the immediate need to improve opportunities for access and admission to treatment programs, Pacific Bay Recovery has enriched its executive team.  Dr. Duffy is honored to announce the appointment of Bryan C. Sharp, to the position of Vice President of Admissions.

Mr. Sharp joined Pacific Bay Recovery in 2012 serving in various capacities throughout the organization, most recently as Director of Admissions. With respect to his new role, Mr. Sharp said, ‘This work is my passion, the people we help are people in dire need of a second chance at at living addiction free”.  Mr. Sharp thanks all the team members at Pacific Bay Recovery, and most importantly offers thanks and praise to his beautiful wife and son, without whom he could not achieve his passions and calling in life.

Please join us in congratulating Mr. Sharp on his new role within Pacific Bay Recovery.  You may reach Bryan at bryan@pacificmedicalcare.net, or call (858) 263-9700.

New Research on Treating Substance Abuse

Although widely opted for, detoxification may not be as effective to treat substance abuse as medication.

Treating Substance AbuseA new research suggests that substance-dependent individuals seeking assistance through an expensive medical detoxification can perhaps benefit better with a combination of opioid medications like buprenorphine and methadone. Such medication allows substance dependent patients to slowly modify their body pattern.

This research does not claim these medications to be a permanent alternative. But compared to the method of medical detoxification, this comes with a saving of approximately $78-257. Moreover, it is psychologically easier than facing the withdrawal symptoms during detoxification.

Today, more than 2.6 million residents of the USA suffer from opioid dependency. Claiming 91 lives each day, The US faces a tremendous challenge dealing with opiate addiction. And more than 80 percent of the drug addiction victims have been deprived of medication-based treatment.

California is currently the largest state found with opiate addiction crisis. The health regulations still favor detoxification by not prescribing opioid agonist medication till the patient is proven to have gone through detoxification. This implies that a patient would have to pay for the detox prior to being insured for buprenorphine or methadone.

New law:

The latest improvisation in the law has added a provision which organizes an emergency alcohol and drug detoxification program under the administration of the Health Department.

The purpose of this program is to encourage health services to develop new ways for detoxification of drug within a medical facility center after an overdose. Highlights of the bill include:

  • This bill is sponsored by State Rep. Aaron Kaufer.
  • It enables the Department of health to provide more proficient medical detox facilities, sharing the burden of Department of Drug & Alcohol that was previously responsible for dealing with a substance based emergency. Additionally, Department of Health has more resources, comparatively, says Kaufer.
  • It is important to note that this law does not impose upon hospitals to spare beds for drug addiction emergencies, but only to become more efficient in easing the risks involved with overdose.
  • This program will facilitate basic facilities required by an individual for detox.

Kaufer says:

“ There obviously is economies of scale at a place like a hospital. Whether it is space or access that is important, is the important question. People are treated and sent back, while this initiative proposes a stay in the hospital till a facility center is found for them where they can effectively get treated for addition”

It is still unclear how the law will come into practice. It is new and will require a complete design of how things would work before it is implemented as a must. “Much of the responsibility will fall on the Department of Health to determine how this program will work” provides Nate Wardle, a spokesman fforthe health department.

It is hoped that the research would help the health centers perceive a better and more effective combination of detox and medication to cater the needs of an opiate addict. In the current crisis, it is best if the state implies any law that promises better results.

 

How to Detox Your Liver From Alcohol Without 30 Day Rehab Programs

Detox Your Liver From AlcoholIn the past few years, more and more scrutiny has been placed on America’s addiction to short rehab programmes. Countless articles have why the current 30-day trend is outdated, expensive and has poor rates of return. Some estimate that only 10% of addicts going into a 30-day rehab programme will stay sober.  In an interview with Slate magazine, one Outpatient clinic owner noted: “You don’t treat a chronic illness with 30 days of intensive rehab – that’s absurd”. He’s got a point. The real question is what’s the solution? Luckily there are other options on how to detox your liver from alcohol.

 

Symptoms of Detox

Detox can be a painful process. Not only are symptoms of withdrawal severe and often very unpleasant, chronic alcohol abuse and addiction is a long built habit that takes time, effort and a certain amount of skill to break. The most obvious negative to alcohol detox is the withdrawal symptoms. Patients get a number of symptoms including:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Nightmares
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusions
  • Seizures
  • Death

That final one is the biggest takeaway. Detox can be dangerous. In some ways, the 30-day alcohol detox rehab programme made sense when it was first invented. Get the addict safely off alcohol without some of the more severe side effects and back to their family sober. But the more we learn about addiction the more we learn this just doesn’t work. Here’s why:

  • Addiction isn’t just withdrawal. Whilst addicts don’t want to stop because they fear the withdrawal – this isn’t the only reason they are addicted.
  • Old habits die hard. How long does it take to make or break a habit? If you took up a new hobby would 30 days of doing that hobby count as a new habit? No. People take much longer, up to 90 days to make habits.
  • Addiction takes time to open up to. Often 30 days isn’t long enough to build trusting therapeutic relationships with the staff at these clinics
  • The addicts don’t want to be there. It’s no surprise that family members and loved ones want alcoholics to seek help. But often convincing them to go to a 30-day programme won’t be enough. They have to make a long-term commitment to change and signing up to 30 days isn’t a big enough commitment. Longer treatments take dedication and real willpower – the exact characteristics an alcoholic needs to overcome their addiction.

 

Unrealistic Expectations – Outpatient or Longer Stays are the Only Way

As we’ve seen – 30-day alcohol detox programs aren’t working. The success rates are low, sometimes lower than 10% completing and continuing the programme. There are, however, a number of solutions. One alternative is longer residential programmes. Those deeply ingrained habits, that have years and years of history are far more likely to be broken by much longer stays, perhaps 3 or more months. Many recovery practices do offer this service and it typically has a much higher rate of success (up to 2 or 3X higher than the best 30-day programmes). Another option is outpatient recovery, with skilled doctors prescribing the best medications to guide a person through the process and stop dangerous withdrawal. In fact, studies have shown for all substance abuse, including alcohol, that longer stays in rehab simply work better.

 

 

Can You Get Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment At Home?

alcohol abuse treatmentA recent article on Foxnews.com explored just how dangerous attempting to deal with alcohol withdrawal at home without treatment can be. Alcohol addiction is a difficult illness to overcome, especially in people who can’t afford expensive long-term residential programmes. However, going cold turkey without the proper medication can be deadly. Luckily there are alternatives but currently, there is a lack of understanding about the options for alcohol withdrawal treatment at home.

Alcohol Withdrawal

If you don’t remember your biology classes from high school take a minute to remind yourself about homeostasis. Homeostasis explains how the body keeps itself in sync. Homeostasis explains why you are able to maintain a body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius (by sweating if you become too hot or shivering if you are too cold). The same principle applies to alcohol. When you consistently consume alcohol, your brain adapts to its new normal. The neurons (the signaling cells in the brain) adapt and get used to the alcohol. Of course, the alcohol is having detrimental effects on the body – particularly the liver – whilst a person drinks. When you take the alcohol away you put the body out of sync. The brain is no longer in homeostasis. Without the depressant effect of the alcohol, the brain goes into overdrive causing a number of distressing symptoms:

  • Tremors – your hands may shake as the brain wrestles to control the body
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Hallucinations – This occurs in the brain cannot process what is a genuine stimuli (aka what the brain is seeing) and what is part of the imagination. This can be particularly distressing.
  • Death

Alcohol Withdrawal medication

A much safer way to detox from alcohol is with a certified recovery practice. This can either be as an inpatient, but can also be managed at home. You may have heard of many of the alcohol withdrawal medications which include:

  • Benzodiazepines: these drugs have been used for years to treat symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. They work by decreasing brain activity (which you need during the withdrawal period). They have a sedative effect, relaxing the patient and putting them to sleep.
  • Anticonvulsants: You might have heard of these drugs being used for epilepsy. That’s because they were originally designed to treat epilepsy. However, addicts undergoing withdrawal can often have seizures (much like an epileptic would) and these drugs can help prevent that.
  • Vitamins: In very severe instances, vitamin deficiencies in alcoholics can lead to dementia. As such vitamins are needed to supplement addicts who are usually extremely low in vitamins.

As we have seen – alcohol withdrawal is dangerous but there are options for addicts looking for alcohol withdrawal treatment at home. A number of alcohol withdrawal medications are available to avoid some of the distressing and occasionally deadly side effects of withdrawal. If you do try to detox at home, make sure you seek help from an experienced recovery clinic that can prescribe withdrawal medications and guide you through the process with experienced practitioners.

Men’s Rehab – Teaching Men to Deal with their Demons Head-On

Men’s Rehab - San DiegoCo-ed rehabilitation (rehab) facilities make it hard for each gender to concentrate on healing and starting the recovery process. When you remove the distraction of the opposite sex, the focus goes back to the individual and full concentration on the addiction is in place. This might seem harsh, but men are more distracted by women than women are by men.

Male Counselors

It is often difficult for a man to open up and discuss their troubles with a female. Men know how to relate to each other. This type of approach helps men to figure out exactly what led them to addiction. Perhaps social drinking while watching sports turned into dependency in everyday life. That is common for men. Male counselors use male-driven approaches to counseling sessions by relating items to their specific interests. This aids the patients in recognizing triggers and trouble areas. For instance, while watching a football game, instead of grabbing a beer, get some apple juice instead. It’s the same color as beer but is minus the alcohol.

Comfortable Male-Friendly Setting

Centers that are decorated for men, with themes and accessories or even building projects to complete, are more successful. A male-friendly setting includes a lounge area with big couches, bulky tables, stuffed wildlife, and sometimes, sports themes. This helps men to feel more comfortable and less out of their element. It is still unfamiliar and uncomfortable but being able to recognize things that interest them is a step in the right direction. Men have a variety of interests from cooking to sports and using their hands to build things. Rehab facilities that focus on what they enjoy while treating their disease are found to be the most beneficial.

Activities Geared toward Men’s Interests

While television is unavailable in rehab centers, there are activities to keep men busy. Men need something constructive to do when they’re not in a therapy session.  Working rehab centers help channel frustrations, pent-up stress, and hidden emotions into completing projects. Working with your hands is very therapeutic and rewarding at the same time. Think of the piece of wood or project, you’re working on as your addiction. Take that negative energy and achieve the finished product, which in this case would be sobriety. Some other activities may include a golf outing, flag football, or learning to cook.

Re-Introduction to Society and Family Life

Some men take a back seat to raising children, paying the bills, and helping around the house. As part of their re-introduction to a normal lifestyle, parenting classes and family counseling are often suggested. When family members join therapy sessions, it becomes intense, but this is near the end of the program so that dealing with the pain and anguish felt by family members is easier to cope with. This helps men to want to be part of their children’s lives and help with the household. Essentially, it rounds them out as an adult and teaches them what living responsibility is really all about. The end result is a happier male that is more involved with life in general.

Holistic Rehab – It Isn’t just Crazy Talk

What is Holistic RehabA holistic approach to rehabilitation (rehab) for addictions might seem crazy, but the truth is, it works. These programs are based upon the premise that natural elements remove negative energies and toxins from the body to reduce the “need” for drugs and/or alcohol. Consider it as being a realist’s way of healing. Look into these programs and view the success rates–you may be shocked.

Natural Cleansing Remedies

Connecting with nature and natural elements help to detoxify the body naturally, removing toxins that aid in your dependency on drugs and/or alcohol. What this does is create natural endorphins, which are what creates happiness and energy.  When your body rids itself of negative feelings from positive reinforcements, such as a happy life, a tranquil environment, and a great support group, you can be on your way to embracing a natural lifestyle. This holistic approach may seem absolutely nuts to some, but it isn’t harsh on the body at all. It’s actually quite refreshing.

Aromatherapy for Trigger Reduction

Triggers and temptation cause a general unsettled feeling in the body. Aromatherapy counteracts it. There are different scents that every person finds relaxing. It is important to work with your counselor to find the perfect combination for your unique situation. For instance, someone who becomes angry when their drug of choice is not available may enjoy warm scents such as cinnamon, chocolate, or fresh baked goods. Those that get anxious when they need a fix typically enjoy eucalyptus or fruit scents.

What this type of therapy does is teach you how to take those feelings of anger, depression, and anxiety in combination with a relaxing scent and allow the negative energy to leave the body. The counselor will instruct you to use these scents, and fresh air to calm these unwanted feelings.

Creating Positives Out of Negatives

For every negative in life, there are several positives that will follow. It is important to learn how to take bad feelings, cravings, and triggers and turn them into something constructive. This can mean building something, painting, a new hobby or even going for an evening walk. It’s very cleansing to concentrate these feelings into something constructive to create feelings of accomplishment and happiness. Yoga is peaceful and helps to relax both the mind and body at the same time. Other ideas to consider are learning to cook, taking classes to learn a new trade, joining a walking club, or even just taking walks in nature on your own.

Holistic approaches aren’t for the birds. The body reacts to natural stimulation in a positive manner. Negative energy by allowing life’s stresses and tragedies to take over is what often leads society to dangerous addictions. Those with serious addictions may take longer to benefit from this approach and it may be very hard on the body in the beginning. Once you go through the program and see just how fresh and happy you feel, you’ll see that the tough road was all worth it and you’ll be more motivated to maintain the lifestyle.

Opioid-Dependence Implant: New Treatment Option

A new treatment option for addiction is Probuphine (buprenorphine), a 6-month implant that delivers a small dose of daily medication. Buprenorphine was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002 for the treatment of opioid addiction. Probuphine was developed by Braeburn and Titan Pharmaceuticals.

Opioid Dependence What to do?How does Probuphine Work?

The implant involves 4 one-inch-long rods placed under the skin of the upper arm. This procedure is done in the doctor’s office. The implant provides 6 months of continuous buprenorphine dosing. Probuphine works by binding to opioid receptors in the body to prevent physical withdrawal from opiates, blocking the effects of opiates, and limiting cravings for opiates.

Does Insurance cover Probuphine?

Most of the larger health insurers are covering Probuphine. The implantable device costs around $5,000 or $825 per month. However, some insurance companies are not yet covering the implant, citing that pills cost less. Probuphine is cheaper than Vivitrol, which is a form of naltrexone injected once a month. Vivitrol currently costs around $1,000 a month.

What are the Most Commonly Overdosed Opioids?

The most common drugs involved in prescription overdose deaths are:

  • Methadone
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin)
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin)

What does the Statistics on Overdose Tell Us?

Overdose deaths involving prescription pain relievers have quadrupled since 1999 in the United States, and so have the sales of these drugs. From 1999 to 2015, more than 165,000 people died in America from prescription opioid overdoses. In addition, more than 14,000 people died from prescription opioid overdoses in 2014 alone. Overdose rates are the highest among individuals age 25-54 years. Men are more likely to die from an overdose, but the mortality gap between women and men is closing.

In 2015, around 2 million people in the U.S. abused or became dependent on prescription opioid medications. Around 1 in 4 people received prescriptions for pain relievers for non-cancer diagnoses. In addition, each day in the U.S, more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misuse of prescription medications.

How are Probuphine Implants Inserted and Removed?

The Probuphine rod implants are inserted and removed only by a specially trained physician. The doctor numbs the skin of the upper arm using a local anesthetic. A small incision is made, and the implants are placed under the skin. After closing the small incision with sutures, a bandage is applied, which must be kept clean and dry for 3-5 days. You can apply an ice pack to the site for 20-30 minutes several times a day to relieve pain.

The doctor will give you a patient identification card, which you must carry with you at all times. The card contains the date the implants were inserted, and the date they must be removed. You will schedule an appointment with the doctor for removal. The procedure involves a simple office procedure, much like the insertion procedure.

Does Probuphine Work?

According to a phase 3 study by the manufacturing companies, Probuphine is quite effective for treating opioid addiction. The study involved 177 participants who received either Probuphine implants or sublingual buprenorphine tablets for six months. According to the study, the efficacy rate for Probuphine was 96.4% compared to 87.6% for the sublingual buprenorphine group.

In another clinical study, buprenorphine implant patients had significantly more negative urine drug screens during weeks 1-16. The Probuphine implant patients had 40% more negative urine tests for illicit opioids. Participants who received buprenorphine implants had fewer clinician-rated and patient-rated withdrawal symptoms experienced a greater change in ratings of severity of opioid dependence and had lower patient ratings for cravings.

Resources
CDC. Wide-ranging online data for epidemiologic research (WONDER). Atlanta, GA: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 2016. Available at http://wonder.cdc.gov.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Multiple Cause of Death 1999-2014 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released 2015. Data are from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 1999-2014, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Accessed at http://wonder.cdc.gov/mcd-icd10.html.
Frenk SM, Porter KS, Paulozzi LJ. Prescription opioid analgesic use among adults: United States, 1999–2012. NCHS data brief, no 189. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2015.
Ling W, Casadonte P, Bigelow G, et al. Buprenorphine Implants for Treatment of Opioid Dependence: A Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2010; 304 (14): 1576 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2010.1427
Ossiander EM. Using textual cause-of-death data to study drug poisoning Ossiander EM Am J Epidemiol. 2014 Apr 1;179(7):884-94. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwt333. Epub 2014 Feb 1112.)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2014.

Everything You Need to Know About LSD

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is sold on the street under names such as Blotter, Dots, Trips, and acid. The designs on the blotter paper also influence the name, such as Purple Dragon. LSD is an odorless, colorless, bitter tasting synthetic drug that has been around since the 1930s. It is a potent hallucinogen and is manufactured from lysergic acid found in ergot (a fungus) on rye and grains. LSD is diluted as a liquid for oral use or produced in a crystalline form that is mixed with excipients.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NHSDA) in 2010 estimated that more than 6 percent of surveyed adults ages 18 to 25 used LSD at some point of their lives. This number was down significantly from 16 percent in 2002, however. For youth, the rate of LSD use during the last month is less than 1 percent.

LSD Uses and Effects

LSD is usually taken as a recreational drug, entheogen, or for psychedelic therapy. It has been used by psychiatrists who value the therapeutic effects in the treatment of cluster headaches, alcoholism, to enhance creativity, and for spiritual purposes. Also, LSD can help a patient to “unblock” subconscious repressed memories, leading to benefits in psychotherapy.

LSD effects are unpredictable, and use is considered to be an experience or “trip.” When it’s not pleasant, it’s considered a “bad trip,” versus a “good trip” when all goes well. These “trips” can last for up to 12 hours, and the first effects of the drug are experienced approximately 30 to 60 minutes once it is used.

The user will have varying emotions, mood swings, extreme changes in mood, impaired depth and time perceptions, and distorted perception regarding movements, shapes, colors, sound, body image, and touch. If taken for an extended period of time, the drug produces hallucinations and delusions. LSD causes physical changes also, such as high body temperature, dilated pupils, sweating, nausea, increased blood sugar, elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, dry mouth, tremors, and sleeplessness.

LSD Health Hazards

LSD use makes a person lose the ability to make sound judgments and view danger. After using LSD, a person suffers depression and/or anxiety, and may also experience flashbacks, which are re-experiences of the “trip days or months after consuming the last dose. If a flashback suddenly occurs, it is often without warning, and the hallucinogens are more common in a chronic LSD user or those with an underlying personality disorder. Healthy individuals who occasionally use LSD also have flashbacks and bad trips. In addition, LSD produces tolerance, and users need to take larger and larger amounts to achieve a state of intoxication. This, however, is a dangerous way to use LSD, as it is an unpredictable drug.

LSD is not seriously addictive, as it does not lead to compulsive drug-seeking behavior. Addiction to hallucinogens is quite a rate but does occur. Because LSD produces a tolerance, some users report that they need to take higher doses each time. Also, LSD is illegal and possessing it leads to disciplinary consequences, fines, and heavy prison sentences.

Consequences of Heroin Addiction

Heroin is a powerful, illegal opioid drug that has serious side effects, produces major addiction, and results in many negative consequences for the user. According to the National Institutes of Health, heroin use is up in the United States, with around 20 million people admitting to using this deadly drug.heroin addiction

Your Brain on Heroin

Repeated use of heroin changes the physical structure of the brain, and it also affects the brain’s function and physiology. Long-term imbalances occur in the brain’s hormonal and neuronal systems that are not easily reversed. With heroin use, studies show that there is deterioration of the brain’s white matter. This affects the ability to regulate behavior, decision-making abilities, and responses to stressful situations.

Repeated heroin use almost always results in full-blown addiction. A chronic relapsing disease, addiction goes beyond physical dependence. It is characterized by psychological, uncontrollable drug-seeking behaviors that continue regardless of consequences.

Withdrawal Syndrome

Heroin produces profound degrees of tolerance, as well as physical dependence. Tolerance occurs when a user takes more and more of the drug each time. With physical dependence, the body grows adjusted to heroin and adapts to the presence of the drug in the bloodstream. Because the body gets dependent, withdrawal syndrome occurs after 4-8 hours since the last drug use episode.

Major withdrawal symptoms occur between 24-48 hours after the last dose of heroin. It takes 5-7 days for these symptoms to subside, but studies show they can persist for months. Symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:

  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Cold chills with goosebumps
  • Involuntary leg movements

Loss of Work

Drug use is associated with loss of employment, and heroin is no exception. People who use/abuse this powerful opiate have problems functioning on the job, either due to the effects of heroin or the withdrawal symptoms. Heroin use leads to being fired, laid off, or quitting jobs, simply due to the severity of its addiction potential.

Loss of Family and Friends

Heroin has serious social and family consequences for the user. Heroin addicts often steal from friends and family members to fund their habits, or they cannot contribute financially, and become a dependent person in the friendship or family unit. This leads to resentment, anger, and conflict among the user and his/her friends and relatives.

Health Problems

Heroin bought on the street often is mixed with other substances, some of which can be toxic to the body. Heroin users are at risk for lung, liver, kidney, and brain damage. These organs become permanently damaged from the substances mixed with the opioid drug. In addition, IV drug users and those who snort heroin are at risk of contracting hepatitis B or C or even acquiring the HIV disease.

Legal Problems and Incarceration

Because heroin is an illegal substance, being caught with it could lead to many legal problems and/or incarceration. A person using heroin could have a car accident, resulting in a vehicular assault or homicide charge. Because it changes thinking and behavior, users are at high risk for committing theft, assault, and/or homicide.

Heroin Overdose

Heroin users are in danger of fatal overdose, or many end up in the emergency room or hospital, barely surviving a respiratory depression. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 11 Americans die every day due to a heroin overdose. Because the drug is majorly intense, users cannot tell that there is a problem until it is too late. Heroin affects a person’s breathing, and this drug slows breathing until a person no longer takes breaths.

Resources
National Institute on Drug Abuse (2015). Nationwide trends: Heroin. Retrieved from: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/nationwide-trends