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Heroin addiction causes physical changes in the structure and physiology of the human brain, with addicts having to make new connections in order to change their behavior patterns. Long-term imbalances are not easy to reverse, with extended medication treatment and therapy needed to ensure a full recovery.
Addiction to opiate drugs comes with a severe withdrawal syndrome and a range of adverse and long-term psychological effects, making it one of the most difficult drugs to stop taking. Heroin addiction affects millions of people around the world, with drug treatment centers the last hope for many to get clean and start leading a more productive life. To talk to an addiction specialist about which recovery programs can meet your needs, call Alcohol Treatment Centers Joliet today at 815-531-1829.
Heroin, also known as diacetylmorphine, morphine diacetate, and diamorphine, is an opioid analgesic sometimes used in medicine and commonly taken for recreational purposes. This drug is also known by a number of street names and identifiers, including H, horse, boy, brown, black tar, smack and many more.
Based on the morphine molecule that is found naturally in the opium poppy, heroin was originally synthesized by C.R. Alder Wright in 1874 by adding two acetyl groups to this common molecule. While it is often associated with morphine, it is between two to four times more potent than morphine and has a much faster onset of action.
Heroin is normally administered by intravenous injection, and can also be smoked in a ritual known as “chasing the dragon”. Available as both a white powder and a brown to black tar, the drug comes mostly from geographical regions in Afghanistan and Mexico. This opiate is used in medicine as an analgesic, cough suppressant and anti-diarrhea drug, where it is known by its formal name diacetylmorphine.
It is also available as an opioid replacement prescription in some nations, including the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands and Denmark. While other opioid replacement drugs are used in the United States, diacetylmorphine is not available.
Heroin is controlled under Schedules I and IV of the international Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and is illegal to manufacture, possess, or sell without a license.
When heroin is injected, it avoids extensive first-pass metabolism and quickly crosses the blood-brain barrier. It is then deacetylated into both the inactive 3-monoacetylmorphine and active 6-monoacetylmorphine (6-MAM) before changing into morphine.
Opiate consumption results in a number of euphoric, analgesic and anxiolytic effects, with users experiencing transcendent euphoric feelings along with extensive pain relief.
People who take heroin often feel no pain or discomfort at all, with the brain actually making physical changes to accommodate the introduction of the drug.
The strong physical effects of heroin in the brain cause physical addiction, with the experience of the drug also leading to psychological addiction over time.
The treatment for heroin addiction involves managing the withdrawal syndrome while also guiding the patient toward therapy and relapse prevention programs. Medications are often used to enhance and speed up the withdrawal process, with common drugs including opioid antagonists such as naloxone and naltrexone.
These drugs share a strong affinity for opioid receptors without actually activating them, and are highly useful in the context of drug treatment. Depending on the extent and length of addiction, patients may also require opioid replacement therapy, with methadone the most commonly used drug to manage the recovery process.
Behavioral therapy and counseling also play an important role in heroin treatment, with addicts needing to develop new skills to assist them in making new lifestyle choices once they leave the rehab facility.
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