Heroin addiction and abuse is a struggle faced by millions both in the United States and worldwide. In Texas, the numbers are increasing, especially among youth and younger adults. Texas shares a border with Mexico, which makes it an easy distribution port for illicit drugs like heroin.
This isn’t a trend you want to see. Heroin abuse and addiction can have serious consequences, including damage to your health, strain on personal relationships and social life, destruction of finances, loss of job, legal repercussions and more.
Private, inpatient drug rehab centers can help you overcome heroin addiction, and not just for the short-term. It may require some dedication, and a lot of personal and professional support, but we at Treehouse can make the recovery process as easy as possible.
Exactly what is heroin? It’s an illicit drug with highly addictive properties. It’s made from the poppy plant, though the drug goes through several phases of refining before it reaches the state of heroin found on the street.
Typically, heroin is injected as a liquid, but it can also be snorted as a powder, or smoked. In its pure form, heroin is a white powder, but when sold it is more likely to be gray, brown or black. This is because it’s sometimes mixed with other illicit drugs, like cocaine, making a dangerous combination drug.
Perhaps one of the most dangerous things about heroin is that when you buy it, you don’t know what you’re getting. Street mixes of the drug may contain any number of additives, used to dilute the drug. These additives can be as simple as sugar or caffeine, but may include other more dangerous substances.
Some common names for heroin include:
Heroin is highly addictive, comes with dangerous consequences, and can result in loss of control of many different aspects of your life. In light of this, you may wonder why anyone still abuses the drug.
Partly, heroin is abused because it’s inexpensive and easy to obtain. This is particularly true in Texas, as the drug is brought in from the border shared with Mexico and transported throughout the state. Heroin is also wanted for the effects it produces: an instant “rush” feeling of euphoria followed by a “high” of calm and relaxation. But mostly, heroin is abused because of the effects it has on the brain.
Heroin enters the brain and is converted into morphine. It works by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain and changing the way it responds to reward, the pleasurable feeling produced by heroin. Once the brain changes the way it responds, it adapts to this change.
In other words, your body enjoys the feelings of calm, relaxation and euphoria associated with heroin, and your brain realizes this. After changing how the brain communicates regarding this response to pleasure, you begin experiencing cravings for heroin, and uncontrollable urges to use it again and again.
Within just a short period of abuse, people can become addicted. Addiction isn’t something that always happens the first time you abuse a substance, but can happen very quickly with heroin abuse. Each time you take the drug you risk developing a habit that will cost you greatly in the long run.
Short-term effects of heroin range from light to moderate in severity, and may include:
With prolonged abuse, heroin side effects can include:
In addition, heroin is rarely sold in its pure form, and street versions of the drug may contain, “dangerous chemicals that can clog blood vessels leading to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain causing permanent damage” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Injecting drugs also puts you at heightened risk of contracting infectious diseases such as Hepatitis or HIV.
As already mentioned, Texas sees a lot of heroin abuse issues simply because it is so close to the border with Mexico, where illicit drugs may be transported in. This is particularly true of the major cities, which become hubs for distribution.
As you might guess, larger amounts of heroin present means larger instances of abuse and subsequent addiction. Heroin enters the state of Texas through different ports of entry. Some areas see higher rates of distribution of the drug than others, but one thing is for certain: heroin is rampant and easily accessible in Texas.
For example, Austin, and South Texas below it, is seeing a high instance of heroin smuggled in from the border. Aside from Austin being a major national city, South Texas is a prime target for heroin distribution due to “remote, sparsely populated land” and “extensive cross-border economic activity,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice National Intelligence Center.
Houston, a large city close to the border, is also rampant with drug trafficking. However, heroin is not limited to major cities in Texas. Because of the state’s proximity with the border, Texas serves as a passway for the trafficking of drugs to large cities and other states as well. In addition to those already mentioned, the following cities see increased presence of heroin all the time, and with it the increased need for treatment from addiction:
As the NIDA explains, in Texas, “heroin indicators show a growing problem, particularly among teenagers and young adults.” Though heroin abuse first became a major issue in Dallas, it has grown more widespread through the state in the last couple decades. Also, heroin was responsible for 13 percent of treatment admissions in Texas in 2013.
When you’re ready to overcome heroin abuse or addiction, detoxification is the first step. To many, detoxification may seem daunting, but it is necessary. Detox is the process that allows you to flush out the toxins gained from prolonged substance abuse.
Symptoms of heroin detoxification can be extremely uncomfortable. Though it isn’t common, people can die from heroin withdrawal. That’s why proper monitoring during detox is so important.
Drug rehab centers have a fully trained, licensed medical staff to monitor your progress during your detox period. They keep track of your vital signs, manage levels of the drug in your body and will also administer any medication you may need to help ease discomfort during withdrawal.
Symptoms of heroin withdrawal can include:
We know heroin abuse is bad on your health, but how does it affect other aspects of your life? To start, it can get in the way of personal relationships: with your partner, family and friends. It’s not easy keeping up with the demands of addiction, and when a substance runs your life, your loved ones likely won’t understand.
At first, it’ll be hard for you to see that you may need help letting go of heroin, or that drug abuse has grown so big in your life that it’s taken over. People close to you may want you to get help, and if you don’t agree it can strain your relationships with them.
Also, heroin addiction can break the bank. It may be a relatively inexpensive habit at first. But if you develop tolerance to it, and begin taking more and more of it to maintain the high, keeping up may get pricey.
Aside from all the damaging effects to your health, abuse of heroin leads to risky behavior. This can mean engaging in risky actions and situations. An example includes making questionable sex decisions which put you at risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
Finally, there are the legal consequences. Heroin is an illegal drug, and getting caught with it or abusing it comes with legal repercussions which can include jail or prison time, fines and a permanent stain on your record. These are just a few of the consequences you can face with heroin abuse and addiction.
Really, there is no aspect of your life that can’t be touched by heroin abuse or addiction. Helping people rebuild and regain their self-confidence, health and strength to reclaim their lives is why drug rehab centers like Treehouse exist.
Because heroin withdrawal can be so intense, many medications are used in the treatment of heroin addiction to help ease the process. The NIDA explains, “medications developed to treat opioid addiction work through the same opioid receptors as the addictive drug, but are safer and less likely to produce the harmful behaviors that characterize addiction.”
One of the most effective medications for the treatment of heroin abuse is Buprenorphine, marketed under brand names Suboxone, Subutex, and Zubsolv. Buprenorphine relieves the cravings that accompany withdrawal, attaching to the opioid receptors in the brain, but doesn’t produce the “high” that opioid drugs do.
In this way, the person feels relief from cravings, but doesn’t experience the reaction that leads to addiction.
Buprenorphine was first approved by the FDA in 2002. It has become so effective during use that generic forms of the drug are now available, making it even more accessible as a treatment option. Treehouse offers medication assisted treatment with buprenorphine for those who need help managing heroin withdrawal symptoms.
With medication assisted treatment, an experienced, licensed staff member will administer your medication. The staff also monitors your progress, and establishes safe levels of withdrawal to taper use of the drug until you no longer need it. This timeline depends on your progress—each person’s treatment experience will differ from the next, depending on duration of abuse, how much heroin was abused and how often.
This process is called medication assisted treatment because the medication accompanies other forms of treatment, such as therapy and counseling.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of “talk therapy,” Mayo Clinic explains. This is essentially just what it sounds like: a form of therapy in which you sit down and work through your issues with a therapist by talking. This process may seem easy, but it produces incredible results.
In fact, sessions typically last about 45 minutes, but are so effective that many people implement changes learned in CBT long after treatment ends. So, what does it do? CBT helps you recognize troubling situations in your life, become more aware of them, understand and recognize troubling thoughts in your life and mold your thinking and action for positive outcomes.
This therapy can have great results for anyone who needs help with certain issues, but it is a powerful tool in heroin addiction healing. Overcoming the force of habitual behaviors formed through addiction can be a great obstacle in your life. CBT teaches people to rid themselves of negative or inaccurate thinking and to focus instead on rational, positive thinking and to build thoughts and behavior from this point of view.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
Originally developed to treat suicidal patients, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a form of CBT. Research has shown DBT to help many overcome the negative mindsets and often restrictive behavioral habits that tend to go with addiction.
DBT is extremely helpful for those addicted to heroin because it helps them learn to manage stressful situations, like the ones they may experience from withdrawal or relapse. DBT utilizes mindfulness, tolerance (to pain and stress), a healthy sense of self and management of emotions to teach confidence and awareness.
When you experience DBT, you’ll have class sessions that teach you valuable life skills. These skills will help you regain the confidence you need to overcome addiction and face triggers of abuse after treatment.
Group Therapy For Heroin Addiction
Group therapy is a form of therapy designed to help individuals heal together. It can be as effective as individual therapy, and can be used in combination with other therapy or by itself for treatment.
Heroin addiction can leave you feeling isolated with your struggles. Withdrawal symptoms during treatment can get intense, and may lead to troubling feelings. It can be hard to overcome these feelings, especially alone.
Receiving therapy help in a group session allows you to connect with others experiencing similar hardships. In group therapy, you find the support and understanding necessary to effectively manage addiction.
Often, one of the biggest things that keeps you from beating addiction is the environment you’re in. Certain stressors can contribute to your urge to abuse heroin, and removing yourself from trigger-laden situations is key to a successful recovery.
At Treehouse, we can help you get away from an environment that might be holding you back. Not only will you heal in a place far from triggers of abuse, you’ll do it in a 40-acre campus that features a beautiful, serene landscape.
With Adventure Therapy, you immerse yourself in the great outdoors. How does this relate to substance abuse treatment? Adventure therapy integrates group therapy with enhancing skill building, sense of self-worth and motivation. All of these aspects are key components of a well-rounded treatment program.
Healing from addiction is so much more than treating just the physical symptoms. Recovery must be comprehensive for it to work, and this means treating the mind and spirit as well as the body.
Treehouse offers a number of treatment modalities, including those mentioned here and others, to give you the highest opportunity to heal. Heroin abuse and addiction can leave you in fear of withdrawal, and lead to damaging consequences. It might seem like you’ve lost the way in life.
We want to help you find your way again. Contact us today at Treehouse to learn more about Texas heroin drug rehab centers, treatment options and to speak to a specialist.