Heroin Addiction

At Sovereign Health, we offer specialized mental health, substance abuse and dual diagnosis disorder treatment tailor-made for the unique issues of each patient. Our comprehensive programs begin at admission, where our expert staff conduct a thorough assessment for any potential co-occurring conditions in order to create an accurate diagnosis so that each patient gets the right treatment.

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Heroin Addiction

Heroin is an opioid drug which is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder or as a black, sticky substance known as black tar heroin.

Heroin can be injected, inhaled or smoked. All three routes deliver the drug to the brain quickly, which contributes to its health risks and to its high risk for addiction. It is a chronic, relapsing addiction caused by changes in the brain and characterized by uncontrollable drug seeking.

In 2011, 4.2 million Americans aged 12 or older had used heroin at least once in their lives. It is estimated that about 23 percent of those using heroin become dependent on it.

Opioid addiction

Use and abuse of opioid drugs is often the precursor to heroin addiction. Opioid addiction in the United States has skyrocketed in recent years. Physicians routinely prescribe opioids for pain following injury or dental procedures and patients can become addicted quite easily. Opioids reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affect those brain areas controlling emotion, which diminishes the effects of a painful stimulus.

Medications in the opioid class include hydrocodone (Vicodin) oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet) morphine, codeine and related drugs. Morphine is commonly used following surgical procedures as a pain reliever. Patients who become addicted to opioids and no longer have access to them resort to a less expensive option in heroin which is easily available on the streets. The heroin of today is not only easily affordable, but much purer than ever before.

Short-term effects

The short-term effects of heroin abuse appear soon after a single dose and disappear in a few hours. Following an injection of heroin, the user reports feeling a surge of euphoria accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth and heavy extremities. Following this initial euphoria, the user goes ‘on the nod,’ an alternate wakeful and drowsy state. Mental functioning becomes clouded due to the depression of the central nervous system. Other effects include vomiting and constipation.

Long-term effects

Long-term effects of heroin appear after repeated use for a long period of time. Chronic users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses and liver disease. Pulmonary complications, including various types of pneumonia, may result from the poor health condition of the abuser, as well as from heroin’s depressing effects on respiration. HIV/AIDS can be transmitted by sharing needles and other drug paraphernalia.

In addition to the effects of the drug itself, street heroin may have unknown additives which do not dissolve and result in clogging the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, liver, kidneys or brain. This can cause infection or even death of small patches of cells in vital organs. With regular heroin use, tolerance develops causing the user to require more heroin to achieve the same effect as the first use.

As higher doses are used over time, physical dependence and addiction develop. With physical dependence, the body has adapted to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms may occur if use is reduced or stopped. Withdrawal, which in regular abusers may occur as early as a few hours after the last dose produces:

  • Drug craving
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Cold flashes with goose bumps
  • Kicking movements

Sovereign Health of California

Sovereign Health of California offers several rehabilitation facilities with highly trained clinicians for the treatment of addiction, mental health disorders and co-occurring conditions. Specifically, Sovereign’s headquarters in San Clemente offer an innovative and holistic detoxification option which offers an advantage for addiction to heroin and other opiates.

Referred to as Naturally Assisted Detox, the chemical free alternative is a combination of natural supplements, minerals and vitamins delivered both intravenously and orally. The key ingredient called nicotinamide adenide dinucleotide (NAD) helps the body to convert vitamin B3 to stimulate brain cell restoration, improve mental clarity, speed up the healing process and ease withdrawal symptoms as comfortable as possible.

Also upon admission to Sovereign Health, you will be thoroughly assessed by our professional staff, each expert in their particular discipline. Note will be taken of any underlying conditions such as anxiety or depression. All conditions must be treated concurrently in order to achieve the most successful outcome; this is referred to as dual diagnosis. Our staff will design a treatment plan to focus on your individual needs.

You will participate in individual and group therapy. Individual therapy is one-on-one with a compassionate clinician. There are also alternative therapeutic activities offered included in our brain wellness program such as equine therapy art, yoga, meditation and exercise.

Treatment includes cognitive assessment. Detection of cognitive impairment determines whether a person needs further evaluation. Cognitive testing measures a person’s intelligence and mental ability. Some of the specific areas measured by cognitive ability include problem-solving, verbal ability, numerical ability, reasoning, memory and general intelligence. When you are ready to return home, continuing care is available to provide support and encouragement.

Sovereign Health accepts most major health insurance plans, making treatment affordable. If you would like further information, please call 886-629-0442 to speak with a member of our team. They will be happy to assist you.

verified by Psychology Today