Drug withdrawal is defined as a physiological response affecting several vital systems in the body. But how is it that some substances create a physiological dependence while others do not? To answer that we need to have a basic understanding of addiction. Especially when it comes to heroin abuse, the withdrawal symptoms can be quite devastating and dangerous.
What is Drug Addiction?
Is addiction a moral failing? A result of negative outside influences? Or perhaps and more likely, it is a complex combination of physical-chemical reactions to a substance introduced into the system. Who is at risk? Are some people predisposed to these influences and physiological reactions? The medical community has been fighting an ongoing battle to try to answer these very questions.
What is Heroin and Why is it so Addictive?
Heroin is a chemical narcotic, originating in the resin of poppy flowers. This sap-like substance is refined to make opium. This opium is again refined to make morphine then further refined to make different forms of heroin.
From Opium to Heroin
Pure opium has a long history in many cultures but around 1850, opium became a major problem in the United States so the pharmaceutical industry was tasked with trying to find a less potent and supposedly “non-addictive” substitute – morphine. Soon Morphine became an even bigger problem, so these companies were again tasked with finding another “non-addictive” substitute: heroin.
When heroin inevitably became another problem in a chain of extremely dangerous drugs These companies created yet another “non-addictive” substitute. Originally developed as an analgesic for surgical use with the U.S. trade name “Dolophine”. This drug, soon renamed methadone, became the drug of choice to treat heroin addiction.
The signs of heroin withdrawal will vary from person to person, but these symptoms are among the most common:
- Hot and/or cold flashes
- Muscle cramps
- Drug cravings
- Mood swings
Unfortunately, these symptoms are not limited to the illicit use of heroin. The entire class of drugs known as opioids is responsible for the same devastating outcome as those who obtain similar substances illegally.
Getting Over Heroin Withdrawal Safely
People initially treated for post-surgical or chronic pain can become addicted through no fault of their own by taking medications that have been legitimately prescribed by their physicians. With new restrictions put upon professionals on how much and who they can prescribe to, even those who are genuinely suffering can have their medication effectively cut off, leaving them at the threshold of withdrawal with no choice but to seek out illicit means of obtaining what they need to survive, creating a vicious circle, leading an average person down a path that is almost impossible to escape.
Even very-limited use can cause an addictive response in some people with genetic predispositions. Heroin withdrawal symptoms are not only a painful disruption in the lives of those afflicted; they can be life-threatening if not medically treated.
If we can’t prevent classic heroin withdrawal symptoms, the best doctors can do is manage it using other drugs and therapies to control the symptoms. Medical protocols for managing this process are an ever-evolving and ongoing search for what currently amounts to a disease with no cure.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
Providing withdrawal management in a way that reduces the discomfort of patients can help build trust between patients and treatment staff of closed settings.
When faced with a friend or loved one in this situation people must educate themselves on not only the problem but the why and how of the situation. That information allows those on the outside to view the situation with sympathy and without judgment. Denial and ignorance are powerful barriers to logical thinking.
Treatment for Heroin Addiction
An addict cannot see the harm they are causing to themselves and those around them. It takes persistence to guide someone on a journey back to sobriety. Relapse is common, almost expected in the beginning. In the beginning, it unrealistic to expect that this process will lead to lasting abstinence the first time around. Fortunately, resources are available not just for the individual but their families and other supportive members in their circle.
Allure Detox is here to assist men and women struggling with heroin dependency and addiction to other opiates. We will guide you or a loved one to lasting recovery and allow for withdrawal symptoms to be minimized to a comfortable level.