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How to Treat Heroin Addiction

Understanding heroin addiction and the methods used to treat it.

Heroin Addiction Explained

966.000 Americans struggle with heroin dependency.
Almost 25% of those who try heroin experience dependency, making heroin the most widely abused opiate in the country.

Mesopotamia cultivated the opium poppy, the precursor to heroin, which they called hul gil or the joy plant, and Early Greek and Roman physicians used opium as a sleep aid and to relieve pain.

The Bayer pharmaceutical company synthesized heroin in the lab and introduced it commercially for use as a painkiller in 1898

In 2013, more than 5,500 tons of raw opium were produced in Afghanistan alone, the world’s largest producer, an amount worth $1 Billion.

Effects of Heroin

After taking heroin, Users feel effects within a few seconds to a few minutes. These may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Euphoric Rush
  • Warm Flush
  • Vomiting
  • Dry Mouth
  • Sexual Pleasure
  • Itching
  • Pain Relief
  • Babies May be Born Dependant
  • Feelings of Tension in the Abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Heavy Feelings in Arms and Legs

Manufacturers and dealers often cut the drug with substances such as:

  • Sugar
  • Powdered Milk
  • Starch
  • Strychnine

Treating Withdrawal

On average, withdrawal symptoms last for about a week and peak from 24 to 72 hours after the last dose of heroin.

The synthetic narcotic methadone, one of the most common medical treatments for heroin addiction, has been used for more than three decades.

A newer treatment option, buprenorphine, works like methadone but has a lower chance of overdose and weaker opiate effects.

Other withdrawal treatments:
Clonidine: has strong sedative effects
Lofexidine: designed specifically for those undergoing opiate withdrawal
Naloxone: used to counteract an overdose
Naltrexone: blocks the effects of opiates and lasts from one to three days

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