The issue of opiate addiction is impossible to ignore. Its prevalence over the last few decades has impacted numerous lives and torn communities apart. In 2019, 132 citizens of Norfolk County lost their lives to opioid overdose. When speaking about avoidable drug overdose, even one death of a community member is too many.
When you think of the main culprit behind the opioid epidemic, the blame is typically placed on the widespread use of prescription opioid painkillers. While the overprescribing of these addictive drugs is no doubt a contributing factor to the opioid epidemic, there remains another illicit drug that has a stranglehold on many people in Massachusetts and along the East Coast: heroin.
At East Coast Recovery, our community-based approach to addiction treatment can provide you or a loved one with the tools they need to recover from opiate use disorders.
Individuals progress at different rates through drug addiction treatment, and so treatment length is not predetermined. However, Research has shown that positive outcomes are contingent on adequate drug addiction treatment length, regardless of the rate at which individuals progress through treatment. Typically, residential or outpatient care is more likely to be ineffective if it lasts less than 90 days, and clients are advised to continue therapy for an extended period of time to maintain their sobriety. Methadone maintenance therapy is advised to last between 12 and 24 months, and some people continue to benefit from it for many years.
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Addiction to Heroin can be managed with therapy, medicine, support groups, and lifestyle modifications. Inpatient and outpatient treatment centers offer all of these services. Before choosing a rehab, consider your unique conditions, such as polydrug abuse, and ensure that the treatment center has the capacity to assist you. At East Coast Recovery, heroin addiction treatment consists of the following programs that are tailored to your individual wants and needs:
Patients in a PHP will live at home, but they will visit the center seven days a week for intensive treatment. PHP centers are staffed by trained personnel who monitor patients frequently. Treatment is available for adults aged 18 and over, and the length of stay varies according to the person’s requirements. PHP programs are particularly well-suited for individuals who need frequent monitoring and care, as well as those who are at risk of harming themselves or others. Those who have not been successful with lower levels of care, like outpatient or IOP, and those who don’t have enough resources for treatment can benefit from PHP treatment programs.
Individuals may participate in an intensive outpatient program, also known as an IOP. Individuals receive substance use, addiction, mental health, and behavioral treatment while still living at home and attending scheduled therapy sessions. Persons who do not pose a safety risk or require daily monitoring may receive intensive treatment in an outpatient setting. When residential or inpatient treatment options are not available, intensive outpatient programs may provide intensive care for individuals struggling at home. The intensive outpatient programs also facilitate individuals’ transition from live-in facilities to home life, ensuring treatment services are still accessible. IOPS require a larger time investment than standard outpatient options with intensive outpatient programs typically consisting of 10 hours of therapy per week.
Medication-assisted treatment, also known as MAT, is one of a number of treatment options for people who are addicted to certain substances. Individuals addicted to heroin, certain prescription pain medications, and other opioids may receive the safest and most effective treatment through medication-assisted treatment. A medication-assisted treatment program helps patients to fight withdrawal symptoms and cravings for abused opioids by providing controlled doses of medication. Medication-assisted treatment is used in conjunction with behavioral therapy to assist the patient in breaking the addiction cycle. A variety of other treatment options are usually combined with MAT, including group therapy sessions, 12-step groups, individual counseling, and family therapy.
The price of treatment varies between facilities. Some treatment programs are free, while others are very expensive. The cost of addiction treatment also depends on the nature of the addiction. In some instances, different treatment methods are required for different addictions. Medical care and amenities are also large contributors to the overall cost of treatment. Insurance is one of the most popular ways to pay for rehabilitation where treatment costs are determined by the insurance company and health provider.
All health insurance policies must provide partial coverage for substance abuse and addiction treatment under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Private health insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, state-funded health care, and military insurance all must provide this coverage. Addiction treatment, though costly, may be paid for in a variety of other ways as well. For example, you may be able to negotiate a payment plan, financing, or a sliding-scale fee at a facility.
The process of getting sober can seem intimidating or difficult. Knowing how the admissions procedure works can provide you with reassurance and confidence as you begin your sobriety journey.
When you contact a rehab center, an admissions representative will answer your call and assist you with the entry process. During this confidential telephone conversation, you will provide your name, birthdate, address, and current profession. You will also provide information about your substance abuse history, including your primary substance of abuse, how long you’ve been addicted, and how you first began abusing substances. You may also be asked about your mental health history, whether you have any co-existing conditions, and whether you are experiencing any financial or family difficulties.
Once you accept treatment and reach the facility, you will undergo a comprehensive intake procedure. Your care team may request a variety of long mental and medical health assessments to establish a personalized treatment program and help you remain sober. Rehabilitation may be hard and confusing, but understanding what to expect can help a lot. It should be effortless and seamless. Delays should be avoided at all costs. The longer it takes someone to move from the first phone call, screening, and treatment admission to treatment, the less likely they will follow through with it.
After the comprehensive intake evaluation is finished, the treatment center’s employees will assist the new patient get acquainted with the facility. Patients will be shown where they will live throughout their stay and be given a tour of the facility. During this time, patients will also receive an overview of their customized treatment regimen and find out what to anticipate throughout their treatment. Rules and disciplinary actions that may be meted out if these rules are violated will be extensively discussed. Patients’ belongings will also be searched to make sure that no substances or other hazardous goods are brought into rehab. Many treatment centers have a list of prohibited items on their website, so it’s a good idea to check beforehand.
It is possible to classify rehab stays into two categories: short-term and long-term. The average stay in a short-term rehab is about 28 to 30 days. On the other hand, long-term rehabs average around 90 days, although 18-month stays are not uncommon in severe cases.
Boston continually ranks among the top 10 greatest cities in the world for quality of life in addition to healthiness. The local economy, dedicated green space, and family activities like the New England Aquarium are all mentioned as factors for why Boston is one of the greatest places to reside in the Northeast.
Boston, home of the renowned Boston Marathon, is one of the country’s fittest cities. Walking, biking, running, and other forms of exercise are available here. Boston also has more public parks, playgrounds, and farmers’ markets per capita than the target goal for a healthy city. All-in-all, Boston is a healthy, happy, and intelligent city.
Treatment for heroin addiction always starts with a detox program . After detox, addiction treatment centers will use a combination of psychological therapy and assistance from medication to help identify and cope with the underlying issues that led to addiction in the first place.
The best way to help someone who is experiencing heroin addiction is to convince them to seek treatment at a licensed addiction treatment facility. While detox from heroin is rarely life-threatening, it is intense and can be a deterrent to someone getting off of heroin. Licensed medical professionals at treatment centers can help the person detox as comfortably as possible while helping them transition to a life free of drugs.
Heroin is an extremely powerful and addictive opioid drug that is derived from morphine. Morphine is extracted from the seemingly innocuous seeds of the opium poppy plant. These flowers are processed into morphine, which is typically in the form of a fine brown powder.
Because the synthesis and export of illicit heroin is so lucrative, vast fields of opium poppies can be found in any region of the world where the climate allows growth. These opium poppy fields are typically found in Southwest Asia, Southeast Asia, and Central and South America. This is where the climate allows for the most effective cultivation, thus a higher yield, of the plant. Because of this, we see the influx of heroin into the United States coming from mainly these regions.
Once morphine is processed into heroin, it is referred to by many different street names. Some of these names include:
Many of these street names are simply colloquial slang, but sometimes they are references to the different forms in which the drug can be sold. Most commonly, the drug is sold as a white, tan, or brown powder. This pure powdered heroin is often mixed with inert powders that stretch the volume of the powder for increased profit. This process is commonly known as “cutting” the drug.
Some of the inert substances that are often used include powdered vitamins, baby powder, or cornstarch. As is the case with any unregulated street drugs, the user has no way of knowing what potentially hazardous product that the heroin is cut with.
Some heroin is processed into a dark, sticky substance known as “black tar” heroin. This type of heroin is generally believed to be even lower in purity than any other form. Purity is desirable for users because the more pure the drug is, the more powerful the intoxicating effect.
In its different forms, heroin can be taken in a number of different ways including insufflation (snorting up the nostrils), smoking, or injecting a solution of the drug intravenously (IV). While all of these methods carry their own risks, intravenous use carries the highest risk of overdose as the drug is injected directly into the bloodstream. When a drug is consumed orally, the body is able to process and attempt to discard the foreign chemical. When the chemical is injected directly into the bloodstream via needle, the body is unable to metabolize it leading to potentially high concentrations and overdose.
Heroin is an extremely addictive opioid drug. A person in the depths of heroin addiction may prioritize getting and using drugs above everything else in their life, neglecting health and relationships in the process. Addiction to heroin is not a sustainable lifestyle and medically-supervised treatment is highly recommended.
Heroin and Fentanyl are both extremely addictive and dangerous Opioids. Heroin is produced from morphine, which is produced from poppy plant resins. This addictive drug can be injected, smoked, sniffed, or snorted after it has been refined from morphine.
Fentanyl is occasionally mixed with heroin to boost its strength, which is dangerous for the user. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is used to relieve severe pain, such as postoperative pain, but it is also frequently abused and has resulted in many overdoses. A person’s life can be ruined by heroin and fentanyl; in some instances, they may even lead to death.
Users are at a higher risk of overdose and death when fentanyl is mixed with heroin, especially if they are unaware that their heroin has been mixed with fentanyl. Fentanyl has caused more overdose deaths in white powder heroin businesses as a result. Delaware is one such example, where 72% of toxicology results for those who overdosed in 2018 indicated fentanyl presence. Across the nation, fentanyl use and distribution is increasing, taking lives as it spreads.
Heroin addiction affects users differently based on their genetic makeup, the quantity of drugs they consume, the frequency with which they consume them, and their dependency on the drug. The most common symptoms of heroin addiction include the following:
Feelings of hostility towards others
Avoidance and self-isolation
Poor personal hygiene
Possession of paraphernalia
Lack of motivation
Decline in professional or academic performance
Wearing long pants or shirts to cover track marks or bruises
It can often be difficult to determine or identify heroin use. If you suspect that you or a loved one may be in the throes of heroin addiction, there are certain physical signs to look for:
Red or bloodshot eyes as well as constricted or tiny pupils
Sudden, rapid weight loss
Other noticeable changes in appearance
Extreme drowsiness and falling asleep at random times in a phenomenon known as “nodding off”
All opiates bind to brain opioid receptors, suppressing pain and producing a big rush or high. However, heroin has adverse effects on the brain and psychological functioning. The following are psychological signs of heroin addiction:
Changes in personality
Bursts of euphoria
Sudden mood swings
Heroin addiction can damage the parts of the brain that are responsible for decision-making and lead to a diminished ability to foresee the consequences of the user’s actions. The behavioral symptoms of heroin addiction can be a very difficult thing for parents and loved ones to understand. The need to use heroin can supersede all other needs in such a way that leads to the user engaging in risky behaviors that they would have never engaged in otherwise. Other behavioral signs include:
Extreme anxiety, depression, or paranoia
Lethargy and lack of motivation or energy
Constant lying and generally suspicious or secretive behavior
An increase in risky behavior in the pursuit of acquiring and using heroin, often leading to troubles with the law
People who use heroin typically feel the effects of the drug almost instantly. The time it takes for the drug to take effect mainly depends on the method used. Because it is such a potent drug, there are many short-term signs and symptoms to look out for that suggest that a person is under the influence of heroin. The following is a list of signs to look out for that may suggest that a person has recently used:
The flushed or reddening appearance of skin which may also be paired with increased temperature or sweating
A rush of euphoria or a “high” in the user that may include elevated mood or energy
Shivering or cold flashes in users
Reduced mental awareness or general sluggishness
A sharp decrease in motor skills
Dry mouth due to lack of saliva production
Slowed breathing, often to a dangerous extent that suggests heroin overdose
Severe itching due to heroin’s effects on nerve endings. This very often leads to scabbing and scarring as well as an increased risk of skin infections.
How quickly someone may experience these effects, and for how long, may depend on the quantity and purity of heroin ingested. For example, someone who smokes the drug or uses it intravenously is typically at a higher risk for addiction as heroin reaches the brain quicker with these methods of ingestion. The itching, vomiting, and nausea felt by inexperienced users of heroin typically subside as they fall deeper into addiction.
Many of these side effects are seen as pleasant or desirable and are what lead to heroin addiction in the first place. There exists a phenomenon known as “chasing the dragon.” This refers to the pursuit of the strong, euphoric feeling that the user felt the first time they tried heroin. The user will continue to take the drug, more often and in higher amounts, in order to try to achieve that initial high. This is a fruitless endeavor and more often than not leads to an incredibly strong physical and psychological dependence on the drug.
Along with some of the short-term side effects described above, heroin use has effects that only become apparent after the user has been taking heroin for an extended period of time. Addiction affects people differently but there are some common ramifications that make themselves apparent in a long-term heroin user. Some of these characteristics include
An increased tolerance to heroin, meaning that the user will require more of the drug to achieve the same desirable effects
Physical and psychological dependence on heroin leading to withdrawal symptoms when the person stops using or if they aren’t using enough.
Various emotional issues, such as anxiety and depression, can affect how a person reacts and behaves during stressful situations
An increased risk of death by heroin overdose due to more frequent use of the drug
Impaired cognitive function and decision-making skills
Long-term heroin users are also at an increased risk for various health conditions:
Kidney disease or decreased kidney function
Heart problems such as arrhythmia and heart disease
Miscarriage and other pregnancy complications
Issues with cognitive function and damage to brain tissue
Pneumonia and other lung issues
Increased risk of infectious diseases such as HIV or hepatitis C for intravenous heroin users
The unfortunate reality is that long-term heroin use not only leads to addiction; it also alters the brain’s neural and hormonal systems by damaging the neurons. Scientists noted in Brain Research that “addiction to substances has been linked to altered white matter in the brain.” White matter is the “subway system” of the brain, connecting different regions, and resulting in quick chemical and electrical transmissions.
The use of heroin can also negatively affect gray matter which is found in regions of the brain that control muscle movements, vision, hearing, emotions, speech, decision-making, and behavior. According to Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal research, heroin exposure resulted in ‘decreased gray matter density in the frontal cortex’ where higher levels of thinking take place and where information is processed for understanding and recollection.
Heroin damages the brain’s gray and white matter regions when they’re exposed to it, changing their structure and function in ways that can’t easily be undone. As a result, as a user takes more and more heroin in an attempt to recreate the magic of his or her first high, he or she becomes less able to make decisions, control his or her behavior, and respond to stressful situations.
After an extended period of heroin use, the body adjusts to the constant presence of the drug in a phenomenon known as physical dependence. When that person stops using the drug abruptly, there are negative physical and psychological consequences known as withdrawal.
The longer someone has used heroin, how it was used, and the amount that was used each time are all factors that play into the severity of withdrawal symptoms when the person stops using.
As we know, heroin is an opioid drug that can suppress some of the functions of the central nervous system such as breathing rate, heart rate, and body temperature regulation. Heroin works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, causing an increase in the chemicals responsible for pleasure. After extended opioid use, the brain begins to adjust to this newfound source of pleasure chemicals and stops producing them on its own. When heroin is removed from the equation, the brain and body are left to readjust, leading to the negative symptoms of withdrawal.
The severity and duration of withdrawal issues will vary from person to person but there are some symptoms that are universally experienced. These symptoms can range from mild to severe, and while they can be extremely uncomfortable, they are not generally seen as life-threatening. Some of these symptoms may include
Abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting
Restlessness, agitation, and irritability
Tremors and goosebumps
Hypertension and rapid heart rate
Muscle spasms and impaired breathing
Anxiety, depression, and difficulty feeling positive feelings or pleasure
Extreme drug cravings
Those in recovery from heroin addiction may seek out sobriety support groups to draw inspiration from those facing similar struggles in their lives. Here is a list of Boston, Massachusetts addiction recovery support groups:
At East Coast Recovery Center, our mission is to help those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction achieve success in recovery and life. Our campus is located 20 minutes outside of Boston in beautiful Cohasset, Massachusetts. This is where your healing journey will begin. Take the first step by calling (617) 390-8349 today.
We realize that every person’s path is different, so our approach to treatment for substance use issues must be different as well.