Heroin addiction is prevalent in the UK and traps many people in an addiction cycle. While it may seem impossible for you to imagine a life free of heroin, understanding how it affects your health and well-being could help you to reach out for professional help. Taking the first step toward recovery requires a comprehensive approach which treats both the physical dependence and psychological reasons for addiction. With 25+ years of experience in treating addiction, science-based programmes with options for all cases, and a team of addiction experts, Providence Projects can help you take that first step toward recovery.
What Is Heroin?
Heroin is a semi-synthetic opioid that is derived from processing morphine. It acts on your pain receptors and those that regulate breathing. It binds to these receptors, causing a release of dopamine and other neurotransmitters, inducing relaxation, detachment, and an absence of physical and psychological pain. Eventually, your brain stops producing these neurotransmitters because heroin supplies them artificially. Heroin causes changes to your brain chemistry, so your reward system does not work as it should.
Heroin is a Class A, Schedule 2 drug in the UK, classifying it as one of the most dangerous. This means it is illegal to own – even if t doesn’t belong to you. Producing or supplying it is also illegal if you do not have a license. The penalty for possession of heroin is up to seven years imprisonment and a fine. The supply or production of heroin is a life sentence, an unlimited fine, or both penalties. Heroin is classified as a Class A drug because it is among the most harmful drugs for your body and mind.
Potential for Addiction
The addiction potential of a substance refers to how easy it is to become addicted, and unfortunately, heroin is one of the most addictive substances created. It was initially developed as a painkiller, and even though it has a high potential for addiction, it is still used for medicinal purposes. Heroin enters your brain very quickly. After a hit, you experience an almost-instant sense of euphoria. Because it binds to the receptors responsible for pain, pleasure, heart rate, sleeping, and breathing, it is both physiologically and psychologically addictive. As it is readily available and relatively cheap, many people fall into the trap of heroin addiction.
How Heroin Addiction Affects the British Communities
Heroin dependence has had a devastating impact on British communities, cities, and social structures. For example, in 2018, a study by the National Crime Agency found that heroin and cocaine use had risen significantly across England and Wales. An estimated 3.7 million people aged 16-59 have used drugs in the last year. In Manchester, the city council reported that drug-related deaths had increased by 73% between 2012 and 2018, with heroin being a major contributor. The use of heroin in Manchester has been linked to increased crime, including burglaries, theft, and violent crime.
The effects of heroin addiction on British communities go beyond the immediate physical and social impacts. The long-term consequences of heroin use can be seen in the social structure of these communities, as addiction perpetuates a cycle of poverty and despair. For example, in Glasgow, the drug problem has been so severe that it has been dubbed the “drug death capital of Europe.” In 2018, there were 1,187 drug-related deaths in Scotland, with almost two-thirds of those deaths linked to heroin. The use of heroin in Glasgow has significantly impacted the city’s social structure, with addiction leading to homelessness, unemployment, and a breakdown of families. To combat the heroin addiction crisis, a comprehensive approach must be taken to address the immediate needs of those struggling with addiction and the underlying social and economic factors contributing to the problem.
Signs of Heroin Addiction
The signs of heroin dependence and addiction are physical and mental symptoms, differences in behaviour, and disruption in an individual’s personal and professional life. Seeing them in a loved one will allow you to convince them to seek professional help and intervene as quickly as possible before the condition gets worse.
Physical signs of heroin dependence to watch out for:
- Itchy and clammy skin
- Fever and tremors
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach aches
- Fluctuations in hunger and eating patterns
- Runny nose
- Weight loss
- Dry mouth
- Muscle spasms
- Needle marks and bruises on the skin
Psychological signs of heroin dependence to watch out for:
- Loss of orientation and confusion
- Anxiety and heightened sensitivity to stress
- Mood swings
- Numbness and apathy
- Symptoms of depression
- Impulsivity, aggression and hostility toward people
- Frustration and irritability with oneself and others
- Inattention and inability to concentrate
- Reduced cognitive function and struggle to make decisions
- Memory issues
- Restlessness, sleep issues or insomnia
- Hallucinations and episodes of delirium
Behavioural and social signs of heroin abuse
- Slurred speech and trouble with communication
- Falling behind on responsibilities and work at school, university, or at work
- No attention to personal hygiene, how they dress, etc
- Needle marks and scars on arms and legs
- Wearing long and baggy clothes even if it’s very warm
- Distancing from loved ones and friends
- Getting hostile and defensive when the substance is mentioned
- Mood fluctuations
- Switching between periods of hyperactivity and lethargy
- Lack of motivation and loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed
Symptoms of withdrawal can cause serious health problems if not managed correctly under proper medical supervision. In the Providence Projects, we use the following prescribed medications to reduce cravings and soften the effect on your physical health that withdrawal may have.
Methadone is a long-acting medicine that influences your opioid receptors to block the effects of opioids. As a result, Methadone is an effective and safe measure used to reduce the intensity of adverse physical symptoms and to make cravings more manageable.
Naltrexone is another prescribed medicine that can safely manage withdrawal symptoms by influencing the same opioid receptors. Naltrexone serves as an anti-depressant that reduces mood swings and the intensity of cravings and uplifts your mood, which can help you overcome the adverse symptoms of withdrawal.
Buprenorphine, also known as Suboxone, is an opioid partial agonist that produces a milder exhilarating and calming effect than heroin and other opioids. In a controlled environment, it’s a safe and effective way to gradually reduce your physical dependence on opioids while reducing heroin cravings.
Therapies Used to Treat Heroin Addiction
Your fight with heroin isn’t just about ridding yourself of physical dependence. Our programme involve numerous therapy options that can address the various mental health issues and psychological shortcomings which may fuel your addiction.
As part of your heroin rehab in the Providence Project, you will get one-on-one counselling with an addiction expert who uses evidence-based methods like CBT and DBT to address irrational thoughts and the underlying psychological reasons for addiction.
We seek to provide a holistic and comprehensive approach to therapy, giving patients options because each case is unique. Aside from individual counselling, we also offer the following options:
- Group therapy and support groups
- Self-esteem and confidence work
- Relapse presentation and cravings management
- Relationship and family therapy
- Motivation therapy
- Music therapy
- Stress and anxiety management
- Anger management
- Recovery skills classes
- Exercise classes
- Healthy habit forming
- Alternative therapy approaches
All of those approaches seek to address underlying reasons that fuel addiction, such as low self-worth, loneliness, high stress levels, lack of motivation and purpose and more. They also seek to build healthier alternatives and improve your well-being. For example, physical exercise can improve hormonal balance and release dopamine, serotonin and endorphins that make you feel content and improve your motivation.
Is Group Better Than Individual Counselling?
Both therapy approaches are important because they help you fight different aspects of addiction. Individual counselling will help you learn more about the reasons behind your addiction, what triggers your cravings, and how to develop effective coping mechanisms. On the other hand, group therapy will give you an inclusive environment where you feel understood and have your experiences validated. You learn from the struggles of others and get inspired and motivated by the success stories of other people who also suffer from substance abuse.
25 Years of Addiction Recovery Success
Since 1996, the Providence Projects has helped many individuals beat heroin addiction for good.
See how we’ve been transforming lives for the better.
How to Choose an Addiction Treatment Service in the UK
When choosing the exemplary treatment service in the UK for your heroin abuse or other alcohol or drug abuse-related issues, you must consider the programme you prefer. When picking a programme, you can choose between outpatient or inpatient treatment. Outpatient means you stay home, go to a treatment centre only for a few hours during detox, and get periodic supervision. Inpatient (residential) programmes provide accommodation and 24/7 supervision in a controlled environment, which may be preferable for more severe substance abuse cases. You must also consider how much you can spend on private rehab. How much you pay will depend on the length of your stay, the number of features and programmes you’ve paid for, and the complexity of your case.
Heroin Addiction Treatment Programme at the Providence Project
With 25 years in the industry, The Providence Project has a stellar and overwhelmingly positive record of success stories from all walks of life. With each patient, we create a personalised plan for action and give them all the assistance needed while ensuring they never feel alone in their journey. Find out more about our addiction treatment programme to decide if we are the right companion to reach your goals in addiction recovery.
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Staying off Heroin
Drug abuse, especially for highly addictive substances like heroin, leaves some psychological and emotional symptoms post-detox. In many cases, the allure of taking heroin comes down to how it mentally and emotionally affects you. For some, it helps them relax when stressed, numbs the physical or psychological pain they are going through, makes them joyful or euphoric when suffering from depression, or acts as a way to escape their loneliness and other issues. Those temptations won’t end once you step out of rehab, so sticking with an effective aftercare programme and employing various therapy and group tools to stay accountable and keep in touch with others is crucial to avoid relapse.