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How to Recover from a Heroin Addiction

Recent news reports state that the number of heroin deaths has increased in the last year by almost 60%. Heroin has become a big problem. This is due to the the increasing prescription drug addiction issue. People run out of their prescriptions and they begin to look for something to take their place. Heroin is accesible, and it's not very expensive.

Perhaps you've found yourself in this same situation. Whether you turned to heroin because you became addicted to prescription drugs, or you started using this dangerous drug for some other reason, the fact remains that you need to get help if you want to quit.

Let's talk in more detail about why heroin is such a dangerous drug, and then we'll discuss what you can expect when you get treatment.

The Dangers of Heroin

This drug is an opioid, best known for its popularity in recreational use. People turn to it for the euphoric feelings it produces. However, it’s also used in other countries as a medication for pain. It’s usually injected, but users may snort, smoke or inhale it. You’ll feel the effects quite rapidly, and they will often last for several hours.

Heroin is an illegal substance that's highly addictive. When it is used, it produces a "downer" effect. The user experiences a rapid state of euphoria and may instantly feel relaxed. Because heroin is a part of the opiate family, it blocks the brain's ability to feel pain.

That's the reason it's often used as a substitute by prescription med addicts. In the beginning, users may be able to hide their addiction. But it isn't long before some obvious signs and symptoms begin to show themselves. A few of the signs of heroin abuse and addiction include:
  • Shortness of breath
  • A consistent feeling of dry mouth
  • Constricted pupils (which means they are almost always very small)
  • Abrupt changes in mood or behavior
  • Feelings of disorientation that come and go
  • Cycles of being highly alert and then transitioning into falling asleep or nodding off
  • Heaviness in the extremities that produce a droopy appearance
  • Deceptive behavior, such as telling lies or making up stories

All of these indicate a serious problem that may be connected with heroin use. One of the biggest risks of using this drug is the highly addictive properties. It’s one of only a few drugs where addiction can occur with just a single use.

The first time you used heroin, you probably immediately felt the high that's associated with this particular drug. Most people report feeling amazing, and they are forever chasing after that emotion. The subsequent uses of heroin are never the same as the first time, which leads to using more of the drug, and using it more often. It's obvious how quickly an addiction can develop in this type of situation. Tolerance is built very quickly, and it isn't long before more physical symptoms of heroin use develop.

As time has gone on, you may have wanted to stop using heroin, but you were afraid to. Whether you're using it for the relief, or to avoid  withdrawal symptoms, drug addiction rehab is the best way to stop the cycle of addiction.

Heroin is made from the poppy plant and is similar to morphine. However, it’s much more addictive than other opioids. It’s illegal to use, make or sell here in the US. Many times, it’s brought in from other countries. One of the unique properties of this drug is the fact that manufacturers often mix it with other substances. This makes it dangerous since not all mixtures are safe for use, especially those that come from other countries.

Many dealers will dilute the heroin to make it go further and be less expensive. The user won’t experience the same high as with a purer form, which leads them to use even more. The risk for overdose is high.

When you use too much heroin, you can overdose. One of the signs of overdose is slowed breathing. It may even stop, which limits the amount of oxygen going to the brain. Even if the person is saved from dying, the loss of oxygen can lead to permanent brain damage.

Medical professionals will use Naloxone to stop the effects of heroin in an overdose situation. It can save their life. It is available as an injection for emergency medical personnel for the fastest results. Friends and family can get a nasal spray as well as the auto-injector. It can take more than one dosage to help the person begin to recover from the overdose.

This drug becomes even more dangerous when it’s mixed with other drugs. For instance, it’s mixed with crack cocaine, which is known as speedballing.

People often try heroin after abusing prescription drugs, especially opioid medications which are used for pain management. Two prescription drugs which have similar effects include Vicodin and OxyContin.

Some people use heroin along with depressants. Both drugs slow down the heart rate and lead to a relaxed feeling. However, combining them can be deadly because it can slow the heart rate and breathing too much. Fentanyl and heroin is a powerful combination which could lead to death.

Heroin is commonly mixed with cocaine, which is a stimulant. Meth and ecstasy are other stimulants, which may also be combined with the drug. These two types of drugs have opposite effects with the stimulant giving you energy and the heroin relaxing you. The end result is one hides the effects of the other drug, which can lead to overdose because you don’t feel the sensations you were hoping for.

This drug is one of the most common substances to mix, which makes it extra dangerous. In addition to the ones mentioned above, it may be combined with Vicodin, Xanax and other prescription drugs, GHB, LSD, mushrooms and marijuana. It’s also popular to drink alcohol and use heroin.

Combining other drugs with heroin makes an already dangerous drug even more addictive and deadly. It also makes treatment more complicated. However, it’s still possible to overcome your drug addiction with the right resources.

People who abuse this drug will suffer several short-term effects. They include a dry mouth, a flushed face, heavy feeling in the limbs, itching, nausea and vomiting. The person may also have a confused mental capacity or become semi-conscious.

If the person continues to use this drug, they can end up with several long-term effects or even permanent damage. They may suffer from insomnia and have abscesses as well as collapsed veins from injection. People who snort the drug may damage the tissue inside their noses. Users may also develop an infection of the lining of the heart. They can end up with kidney or liver disease and develop a mental disorders.

Studies have been done which indicate that long-term heroin use leads to damage of the brain’s white matter. The result is a loss of the ability to make decisions or control behaviors. They may not be able to handle stressful situations.

The First Step: Detox

In many cases, treatment begins with going through detox. This is a process that allows the chemicals from the drugs to be eliminated from your body quickly and naturally. As a heroin user, you may only go for short periods without using, which means withdrawal symptoms will begin showing in just a few hours. Detoxing is difficult with any addictive substance. But it’s often more painful with opioids. In fact, many people relapse because they can’t handle the detox process.

One method of detox that has received positive attention is medical detox. It’s especially popular for opioid addiction. A doctor may prescribe an opioid medication while you’re going through the detox process. It can help reduce or even eliminate symptoms of withdrawal by mimicking the effects of the heroin in the brain.

With this process, the dosage for the substitute medicine is gradually decreased until its no longer needed. This can take days, weeks or even months before the person is finally completed detoxed.

There are some benefits to using medical detox, especially for heroin addiction. It can encourage people to seek out treatment who would never try to detox otherwise. It also makes it less painful and you can begin rehab treatment while going through this slowed detox.

While there are some advantages, there are also some downsides. The biggest issue is the risk for a second addiction. Since opioid medications are used, they carry a risk for addiction even though it’s less than with heroin. If it does happen, it just slows down your recovery process even more.

Another issue is that your treatment process will last longer because you won’t get through detox as quickly as you would with other approaches.

Some facilities utilize a medical approach to detoxification, but here at Northpoint Washington, we prefer a more holistic method. We rely on improving your nutrition and making sure you're getting enough exercise every day as a way to cleanse the body naturally. Research has shown this approach to be very effective for many reasons. Not only are you not introducing any other addictive medications to your body, but you're also retraining yourself on how to live a healthy life. Once you've gone through detox, the next phase of your treatment can begin.

It's possible that you've thought about quitting heroin cold turkey, rather than trying to go through a rehab program. Many people believe they can quit on their own, but unfortunately, that's rarely the case. Withdrawal symptoms can be quite severe in some people, and they can even trigger some serious medical issues. This is particularly true if you have a prior medical history that includes heart problems.

Heroin cravings can be intense, and they can begin as soon as a few hours after your last use. You can also experience nausea and vomiting, cramping in your arms and legs, insomnia, cold sweats during the night and the day, feelings of heaviness in your body and many other symptoms.

If the physical symptoms aren’t serious enough, the mental issues are often more problematic. You may become irritable, suffer from hallucinations and experience insomnia as your body adjusts to not having the drug.

For most people, these withdrawal symptoms are too much for them. The worst of the withdrawal may last for about a week, but it's not uncommon for the symptoms to return with a vengeance without notice for a few months. When you're unable to cope, you look for relief, and that means the addiction cycle begins all over again.

When you choose to go to a rehab center, you'll get the support you need to quit your use of heroin for good. While withdrawal symptoms will probably still be present, there are treatment options that can minimize them significantly. That means that they will be much easier to cope with, and they will also be much shorter in duration. The right kind of professional support can help you kick your drug addiction for good so that you can begin your recovery.

Are there Affordable Heroin Rehabs?

One of the reasons most people don't get the help they need is because of the costs associated with rehab. They're concerned they won't be able to afford it, or that it will cause a financial hardship for their families. The good news is that an affordable rehab is easy to find, thanks to The Affordable Care Act. This healthcare law requires all insurance companies to provide benefits for drug rehab. While some insurance providers only cover a portion of the costs of this type of addiction treatment, many of them provide full coverage. If there are out of pocket costs, they're generally very minimal.

The Affordable Care Act has made it possible for people to get the help they need for their addiction regardless of their financial situation, and this should change how you feel about getting substance abuse treatment. Money should never stand in the way getting the professional help you need for your addiction, and now, it won't.

It's understandable for you to want to be careful when you're choosing a rehab center. You're looking for only the best, and rehab facilities are not all the same. Some of them don't provide personalized treatment plans for each patient, which means that everyone basically follows the same plan, regardless of what their circumstances are. Here at Northpoint Washington, we do provide personal treatment plans for all of our patients. We recognize the fact that the issues that led to your addiction are going to be different than someone else's and so you need a plan that's unique to you.

Co-Occurring Disorders and Heroin

Many people with a mental illness turn to drugs to help them hide their symptoms from family, friends and coworkers. They fear being viewed as a “crazy person” or someone who is out of control. Instead of seeking medical help, they choose to self-medicate. However, with the case of heroin use, the drug may cause the mental health disorder.

Heroin Rehab Information

When someone suffers from both conditions, it is said that they have a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis. The mental health condition may be depression, PTSD, severe anxiety, bipolar disorder or other problems. Using heroin can help you relax, unwind and not show some of these symptoms. However, it really makes the condition worse.

After using the drug for some time, you’ll notice that the symptoms you were trying to hide are even worse than before. However, you’ll be unable to stop using because you’ve become addicted.

With heroin, you may find you develop a mental health disorder because of your drug use. This drug alters the brain over time, causing you to become paranoid, anxious or hysterical. It destroys your brain so you are unable to think clearly and make decisions. Some of the effects may be reversible when you stop using, but others may be permanent damage.

If you suffer from a dual diagnosis, you will need to be treated for both the mental condition and the addiction. Otherwise, you’re likely to relapse. You will need to go through therapy for them, and you may even need medication for the mental health disorder. Even though it’s more complicated to treat a dual diagnosis, it’s possible for you to recover and live a productive life with the right treatment program.

What Will Happen in Treatment?

Treating a heroin addiction is often more challenging than dealing with other drugs. Because it’s so addictive and the relapse rate is very high, treatment may be longer term. You have several options for how you will receive treatment, and you should consider your choices carefully.

One of the best-known and most popular types of treatment is an inpatient program. You stay at a facility for treatment for a specified time, usually 30 days for a drug addiction. During this time, you receive treatment and may be limited on outside contact. The benefit of this type of program is you can concentrate solely on recovery and not be influenced by negative situations.

For a serious addiction like heroin, you need more support and to avoid people and places which will encourage you to start using again. Being in an inpatient program gives you time to learn how to handle your addiction and prepares you for life afterwards.

A similar option for people who have tried to stop using heroin and have failed once or many times is residential treatment. It’s similar to inpatient rehab but lasts longer. You may spend weeks or even months at a facility. The main benefit of this treatment is you can get the support you need and avoid temptation and triggers until you’re better able to handle them.

Outpatient treatment is an option where you go to therapy for a few hours a week and then return to your home and to work or school. While this type of therapy is good for those who have other responsibilities, you need a good support system of family and friends to be successful. The problem with long-term heroin addiction is you may have damaged those relationships and lost your home and job so that you don’t have the positive influences in your life. This option is best for the person who has recently developed an addiction.

Intensive outpatient treatment is similar to regular outpatient programs except that you spend more time in therapy. It may be several hours a day or even all day before returning home at night.

When choosing a type of treatment, consider which will work best for your situation and provide the right amount of support. Compare your options and tour facilities to ensure you select a drug rehab center that will help you be successful with your recovery.

When you attend drug rehab, you’ll be given an assessment. The therapist will create a treatment plan to help you begin your recovery. It often has several components and not just one type of therapy. This becomes even more important with heroin addiction.

Behavioral Therapy

Heroin addiction treatment often includes behavioral therapy including cognitive therapy, which works to modify your behaviors. You will learn how to identify triggers and develop strategies to either avoid them or deal with them. You’ll also build your skills in managing stress, which often leads to drug use in addicts.

Another aspect of behavior therapy is contingency management. This is a fancy way of saying you’ll get rewards for good behavior in treatment. For instance, if you complete a step in your program such as attending so many group meetings in a week, you may gain phone privileges to call home. Sometimes the reward is a small amount of cash or vouchers that can be used for certain things.

Group Therapy and Individual Counseling

You’ll need to go through therapy as part of your treatment. When you work one-on-one with a therapist, you’ll delve into the reasons behind your addiction. You may discover a deeply hidden problem or you may have to learn how to deal with well-known causes for your drug use.

When you go to rehab, you will talk with an addiction counselor on a regular basis. In the beginning, you may talk with him or her every single day because you'll need additional support. You'll discuss your heroin addiction and gain insight into how it has affected your life.

You'll also work on getting to the source of your addiction. This can be a bit painful at first, but it's a necessary part of breaking the hold that heroin. Most people find addiction counseling to be one of the most rewarding parts of rehab. It can even help you devise strategies that will protect you from relapsing once your rehab is over.

Group therapy has been standard in rehab for a long time. Sometimes people are nervous about talking with a group about their issues, but those feelings pass.

The fact is that you have been through so much, and it's important for you to know that you're not alone.

Group therapy will help you build a support system to make positive changes. You’ll see others who are fighting an addiction just like you. They may have similar stories or come from different backgrounds.


Medication may be necessary to help with addiction recovery. Even after you detox, you may suffer from severe cravings for the drug. Some rehab facilities offer medication which blocks the brain’s ability to enjoy the effects of an opioid like heroin. If the person uses, the medication causes them to be sick and not get the euphoria from it.

With drug addiction, especially in the case of heroin abuse, you may be prescribed medications for use during your treatment. For instance, you may take methadone or buprenorphine, which act similar to heroin but with less intense reactions. This reduces your cravings so you can focus on treatment without relapsing. Naltrexone is another drug which blocks the effect of the drug so you don’t enjoy using.

The issue with using medication is the person must continue taking it for it to be effective. Also, some of these drugs have addictive properties, which can cause more problems in the future.

Alternative Therapy

A lot of programs include alternative treatment, which can be especially helpful with heroin addiction. For instance, there may be a focus on meditation to help you relax when you’re under stress. You may find yoga classes help you feel centered. Then, there’s music and art therapy, which can teach you how to express your emotions instead of keeping them bottled up. Not all types of treatment work the same way for each person, so it’s good to have options. With this drug, the addiction is often so severe that multiple types of treatment may be recommended to help you be more successful.

The therapist may choose one or more types of alternative treatments based on your past or interests. For example, a person who likes to write may respond better to journaling than to talking about their addiction. An animal lover may get more therapeutic benefits from equine therapy or find it easier to open up as they establish a relationship with an animal.

Health and Wellness

People who have been using heroin for a long time have damaged their bodies in many ways. They are often emaciated looking and have poor nutrition. One of the important areas of focus for drug treatment centers is to get the person healthy again. Nutritional programs will ensure they are eating foods with the right vitamins and minerals to help them regain their health and to feel physically stronger and mentally alert.

Exercise is often part of the program as it makes you feel good after a workout. Your brain releases endorphins, those “feel-good” chemicals that give you a natural high. Instead of looking to a drug to provide that feeling, you learn how to turn to exercise to help you deal with stress and make you feel good. Once you begin to feel positive towards yourself and develop self-confidence, you feel more prepared to face the daily challenges of life without using drugs.

When you look at different programs, consider what types of treatment are available. You may be drawn to a program that includes art therapy because you like to create things. The more options for treatment available, the better your chances at recovery by finding the best way to treat your addiction.

How to Know if You Need Heroin Treatment

Maybe you've only been using heroin for a short time, and so you're not really sure if you're a candidate for any type of professional treatment. Please rest assured that no matter how long you've been using heroin, this type of addiction treatment can help you, and it really is necessary.

Heroin has been affecting your life for a period of time, and perhaps you've experienced a lot of consequences from that, including:
  • The loss of a job, or the inability to go to school
  • The loss of some important relationships in your life
  • Financial struggles that you're not able to overcome
  • Physical repercussions such as shallow breathing, heart issues, or feelings of itching
  • Chronic pneumonia or other lung and breathing diseases
  • Liver problems or disease
  • Arthritis in your hands or elsewhere in the body

All of these issues are indicators that you need to get professional addiction treatment as soon as possible.

Amytal Addiction Treatment

Northpoint Washington Can Provide Heroin Rehab

Here at Northpoint Washington, our goal is to help you in any way that we can when it comes to your treatment needs. Our new facility in the State of Washington is modern and beautiful.

We made sure to keep it small enough to provide an intimate setting for you to feel comfortable in. We offer 35 beds because we want you to get the personal attention you need during your stay with us.

Getting the process started for your drug treatment is so easy. Once you get in touch with us, one of our addiction specialists will with you. They'll ask about your addiction history. Once he or she has discussed these details, you will receive a professional recommendation for treatment.

We will contact your insurance company to determine what your benefits are. You'll know exactly how much you'll have to pay out of pocket. With that information in hand, you'll be able to begin to make plans to get the help you need.

We offer a holistic approach. You can enjoy a variety of activities designed to help you deal with your addiction. This includes exercise, yoga, hiking and other activities which are fun and therapeutic.

If you would like more information or if you have questions our facility, please contact us today.

Talk to a Rehab Specialist

Our admissions coordinators are here to help you get started with treatment the right way. They'll verify your health insurance, help set up travel arrangements, and make sure your transition into treatment is smooth and hassle-free.

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Northpoint Washington: Opening April 2019

Our facilities currently open for services:

Ashwood Recovery at Northpoint

Outpatient drug and alcohol rehab and addiction counseling located in Boise, Idaho.

Northpoint Recovery

Our National Medical Detox and Inpatient Addiction Facility.

The Evergreen at Northpoint

Outpatient drug and alcohol rehab and addiction counseling located in Washington State.