According to new figures published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the numbers of people addicted to opiates such as heroin are at their highest level since 2015. The pandemic has led to a surge of people using drugs and alcohol to cope, and addiction services are simply not equipped to treat the soaring numbers. Indeed, nearly 8.5 million adults were drinking at high risk in September 2020, up from 4.8 million drinkers in February. Unfortunately, due to years of spending cuts, addiction services are now unable to cope with the increased level of demand caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Whilst coronavirus is undoubtedly a public health crisis for all society, those who abuse drugs, especially opioids, have been facing their own epidemic. In a recent report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of drug-related deaths in England and Wales has risen again in 2019-2020. Heroin accounted for many of these drug deaths.
Using heroin, alcohol, or any other drug, has potentially life-threatening consequences. The stakes are high, but we want you to know that there is a way out. The Providence Projects provides detoxification and rehab programmes for all drugs, alcohol and gambling, including heroin rehab. We believe anyone can recover – no matter how dark things may seem right now. Call us today on 0800 955 0945 for a free, confidential telephone consultation.
What is heroin?
Heroin is a highly addictive, high-risk drug. This Class A opiate drug targets the opioid receptors in the brain: it is derived from the opium poppy and morphine. It is either a brown or a white powder, and can be injected, sniffed or smoked. No matter how you take heroin, it gets to your brain very quickly. It is powerful and highly addictive, and sadly, many who try the drug just once or twice become dependant.
Otherwise known as smack, gear or brown, heroin has been around for many years and is a very strong drug which has dangerous effects on the user. Heroin is an opiate drug: opioids can either be sourced synthetically or derived naturally from opium. They include morphine, codeine, thebaine, tramadol, methadone, oxycodone and fentanyl.
Heroin targets the opioid system in the human body which is responsible for regulating pain. Heroin works to block your body from receiving pain messages, and dramatically slows your heart rate and breathing. Heroin converts back into morphine in your body and binds to opioid receptors which are involved with pain, reward and pleasure. It produces a strong ‘heroin high’, but doesn’t last long, and its powerful effect means the user tends to re-dose very quickly.
Taking heroin leads to a sense of euphoria, safety, warmth, and wellbeing. It occurs because the heroin leads to excessive dopamine being released into the brain, which stays there and creates feelings of euphoria and pleasure. Once you develop a tolerance to heroin, you will need more and more of it to achieve the initial, pleasurable effect, and you will use more frequently to appease your cravings. At this point, heroin rehab may become necessary.
Unfortunately, heroin overdoses are common, and these can be fatal. Dependence and subsequent addiction to heroin can occur rapidly, as users develop a tolerance to it.
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What are the short-term effects?
- Euphoria, intense surge of pleasure
- Warm flushing of skin
- Back and forth effect between consciousness and semi-consciousness
- Dry mouth
- Nausea + Vomiting
- Severe itching
- Slowed breathing
- Impaired mental functioning
What are the long-term effects?
- Depression and other mood disorders
- Heart problems
- Damaged nose tissue
- Stomach and gastro-intestinal problems
- Lung diseases e.g. cancer or pneumonia
- Liver and kidney disease
- Irregular menstrual cycles for women
- Sexual dysfunction for men
Heroin is a drug with potentially fatal consequences. Sadly, drug overdose is a major cause of premature death and morbidity among heroin users. When someone takes too large a dose of the drug, it depresses heart rate and breathing to such an extent that a user cannot survive without medical help. The following symptoms may indicate that the individual has overdosed on heroin and therefore requires urgent medical attention:
- Low heart rate
- Significant drop in blood pressure
- Very shallow breathing
- Small pupils
- Losing consciousness
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle twitches and spasms
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How do I quit heroin?
Due to its highly addictive nature, heroin users find it very difficult to come off the substance and remain clean and sober. Ideally, heroin users should enrol in a residential heroin rehab setting. Here are some tips to help you quit heroin and find recovery:
Build a support network
Connection with others is crucial to any addict’s recovery. When you have cravings or are in situations where the temptation to use drugs may arise, it is always helpful to have people you can call, who you can depend on. Fellowship and recovery meetings, such as Narcotics Anonymous, can be very helpful in this regard.
Get a structure
Structure and routine are a great way to keep you on track. Having a schedule keeps you organised, accountable, and busy. Many addicts and alcoholics struggle with boredom and lack of routine, as it leaves too much time for rumination and negative thinking to take over. Try to timetable your day into morning, afternoon and evening, and ensure you don’t spend too much time alone.
Being kind to yourself and practicing self-care on a daily basis can make a huge difference when trying to quit drugs. Eating healthy, nutritious meals, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep, are all contributing factors to leading a healthy lifestyle. Doing these things will improve mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve the chances of you remaining in recovery.
Talk to someone
Recovery is all about being open and honest with others. If you don’t share how you feel or think, no one else will know where you’re at, or if you need help. By sharing your goals to get sober with someone close to you, you hold yourself accountable, and the burden won’t seem so heavy to carry all alone.
Choosing the right heroin rehab
There is a wealth of choice when it comes when it comes to treatment centres in the UK. This variety of drug rehab and detox clinics, all with their own therapies, facilities and varying costs, makes it all the more important to do proper research and compare options. Choosing the right rehab for you is essential: this is where the foundations for your recovery are laid, and your chances of success are determined.
Whatever heroin rehab you choose, know that the decision to enter treatment is worth it. You are making an investment in yourself, your future, and improving the lives of your loved ones too. There is much shame and stigma when people hear the term ‘rehab’. They might fear what others will think of them, or what if their employer finds out, and others don’t want to miss out on time spent with family, friends and loved ones. They may feel embarrassment at the idea of telling people they have an addiction to drugs, alcohol or gambling. However, the potential damage to be caused by remaining in active addiction is far greater than any uncomfortable feelings or conversations. What’s more, any good friend or loved one will be supportive of the decision to get help, rather than judgmental.
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Finding heroin recovery
Remember that heroin addiction is a chronic, progressive disease. Things only get worse with time. Act now, and call us today to begin your heroin recovery, on 0800 955 0945. Finding recovery from addiction is not easy by any means, but it is not impossible either. Here at the Providence Projects, we have helped thousands of individuals to recover from their addiction and find meaning and happiness again after heroin rehab treatment.
If you’re looking for more information, get in touch today and speak to one of our expert addiction team who can discuss your drug detox and rehab options and find the best programme for you. Finally, we want you to know that there is hope. No matter how bad things may seem right now, you have strength and resilience to fight your addiction and to rediscover life clean and sober. We’re here to help.