Heroin Addiction Treatment Programme

Effective Heroin Addiction Treatment

Find Hope and Healing Through Our Heroin Addiction Programme

What is Heroin?

Heroin is an opioid drug that is intensely addictive. It can be snorted and smoked but is generally injected. When injected, heroin produces a rush of euphoria, that contributes to an intense ‘high’. The drug also has the effect of making the user feel content, relaxed, and tired. It allows the user to dissociate from their internal and external environment, removing them from all their problems. In addition, it is a powerful painkiller.

Street terms for heroin include skag, smack, H, and gear.

Facts and Statistics on Heroin Addiction

According to the World Health Organisation, an estimated 15.6 million people worldwide suffer from opioid dependence, with heroin being one of the most commonly abused opioids. Heroin addiction is a significant public health concern, contributing to overdose deaths, HIV/AIDS transmission, and various social and economic costs.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the number of heroin users in the United States has been steadily increasing, with approximately 948,000 people reported using heroin in 2016. The rate of heroin overdose deaths has also risen significantly, with more than 15,000 deaths occurring in 2018. Heroin addiction affects people of all ages, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds, highlighting the need for comprehensive prevention and treatment efforts.

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What Are the Symptoms of Heroin Addiction?

Short-term symptoms include:

  • Feeling drowsy and falling asleep (being ‘on the nod’ or ‘having the nods’)
  • Confusion
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Arms and legs feel heavy
  • Itchy skin
  • Stomach upset
  • Nausea and vomiting

Long-term symptoms include:

  • Collapsed veins which impair blood flow
  • Inability to sleep
  • A decline in mental ability
  • Inability to control behaviour and emotions
  • Heart problems
  • Risk of HIV and Hepatitis C
  • Mental illness

Heroin addiction can also affect your lifestyle, work, finances and relationships. You may lose your job after becoming unreliable, be heavily in debt as you pay for drugs, and lose friends and partners as you spiral into addiction.

Don’t let drug abuse wreck your health and destroy your life. Once you start taking heroin it’s very difficult to stop and you need urgent treatment. Smarmore Castle has treated thousands of people with addictions, many of whom were addicted to heroin. We’re non-judgmental, discreet and have the help you need.

Health Risks of Taking Heroin

By taking heroin, the user risks overdosing and causing respiratory failure, which can lead to a coma, and even death. If injecting, users also run the risk of collapsed veins, death of tissue in extremities such as fingers or toes (gangrene), and infections.

Sharing, or using unclean needles, also invites the risk of spreading infectious diseases such as hepatitis C, hepatitis A/B, and HIV/AIDs. Liver and kidney disease, as well as pulmonary conditions such as pneumonia, may also result from prolonged use of the drug. Heroin abusers often become malnourished because their appetite disappears when they are high on the drug.

The extremely addictive quality of heroin means that the user’s life soon revolves around obtaining and taking the drug. This means that it becomes increasingly difficult for the user to sustain a normal professional and personal life. Often they damage their career prospects as well as their relationships with family and friends. Heroin is also illegal and users risk getting into trouble with the law.

What Are the Dangers Associated With Shooting Heroin?

Injecting heroin is extremely dangerous. Some of the dangers include

  1. Collapsed veins – this means they struggle to carry blood and oxygen to vital organs
  2. Skin infections ­– caused if bacteria on a needle enter the bloodstream
  3. Skin abscesses – serious skin infections which can result in paralysis and death 
  4. Skin injury – injecting can traumatise and damage the skin
  5. HIV – a possible consequence of sharing needles
  6. Hepatitis C – another blood-borne disease contracted from sharing needles
  7. Overdose and death – this happens if you inject more than your usual dose, a purer dose than normal or heroin cut with other dangerous substances.

If you inject heroin you are at a higher risk of dying from acute or chronic diseases.

Does Heroin Harm Your Body?

Yes, it does. Not only does regular injecting damage skin but if your veins collapse, they are unable to carry blood and oxygen to your vital organs, including your heart. Not only can this affect your circulation, it can lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate and affect the organ’s functionality. ‘Heroin heart’ aka infective endocarditis can result in serious cardiac problems.

Heroin use affects all organs and compromises your immune system which means you are more likely to become ill and not be able to fight off an infection. It also causes your teeth to fall out, makes you constipated, wrecks your libido and disturbs the menstrual cycle in women, which can have an impact on fertility.

Smoking heroin can cause asthma, increase the risk of pneumonia and bronchitis and reduce lung function. You can also become malnourished as heroin ruins your appetite.

Heroin Detox

The first stage of a patient’s treatment at Smarmore Castle involves detoxing from heroin to ensure that all traces of the drug are flushed out of their system. This prepares them both physically and psychologically to engage with their addiction treatment and begin their recovery from heroin addiction.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms from heroin can be very strong and unpleasant. They can begin as soon as a few hours after the last dose of the drug is taken. The patient will experience strong cravings for the drug, as well as insomnia, vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness, and cold flushes.

The strongest heroin withdrawal symptoms peak between 48-72 hours after the last dose of heroin is taken and generally diminish within a week. If detox from heroin is attempted suddenly by a long-term user, heroin withdrawal symptoms can prove fatal. This is why it is of great importance to detox from heroin in a safe environment, under the supervision of an attentive team of medical experts.

At Smarmore Castle, our patient’s safety and comfort are our top priority. We continuously monitor our patients’ physical and mental states during detox and their detox regime is updated in response. Patients detoxing from heroin may be given replacement medication to ease their withdrawal symptoms. This will be administered in ever-decreasing doses until they are completely clean of any drugs. This allows their system to adapt slowly to the absence of drugs.

heroin addiction

What Does Heroin Withdrawal Feel Like?

Heroin withdrawal is unpleasant, but the severity of symptoms ranges depending on how long you’ve been addicted to heroin and in what quantity. Speak to your GP before embarking on detox as you may be prescribed methadone to help wean you off heroin. Going cold turkey is never advised.

Physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • High temperature and fever
  • Sweating
  • Shaking (the delirium tremens or DTs)
  • Muscle aches and bone pain
  • Stomach ache
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations

Psychological symptoms of heroin withdrawal

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Confusion
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Nightmares
  • Cravings for more heroin

It is very difficult to detox from heroin at home. Not only are you in danger if complications from symptoms arise, but the cravings are difficult to resist and you may find that any mental health issues are exacerbated. It takes the average user 3.6 attempts at detox and withdrawal to throw off a heroin addiction.

Moving into a rehab centre such as Smarmore Castle has a higher success rate than being treated as an outpatient. Not only will you be safe as our medics monitor you 24/7, prescribing any medication you might need to deal with withdrawal symptoms, but you will also be given therapy to help you cope with the psychological trauma of withdrawal and learn strategies to deal with triggers and avoid relapse.

How Long Does Heroin Withdrawal Last?

Once your body starts its detox, the effects are almost instant with withdrawal symptoms starting a few hours after your final dose. Although everyone is different, here is the general timeline:

One to three days: Symptoms become more intense, peaking between 48 and 72 hours after your last dose. You will feel at your lowest ebb and your cravings for heroin will be almost unbearable.

Three to seven days: Symptoms will not be as severe but you will feel tired, weak, possibly depressed and almost certainly still battling the cravings

Seven days onwards: Chronic and long-term heroin users may experience side effects such as depression or mood swings for months or years. These are known as post-acute withdrawal symptoms or PAWS.

Can Heroin Users Die From Withdrawal?

Yes, they can, and it does happen. However, in virtually all cases, these deaths would have been prevented with the right intervention. This is why undergoing detox while in the care of a dedicated and respected addiction treatment centre such as Smarmore will not only guarantee you a better chance of getting clean but will also keep you safe if complications arise.

Does Xanax Prevent Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms?

Xanax, also known as alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine (or ‘benzo’) usually prescribed for anxiety, and for this reason, it can minimise the anxiety you may feel while withdrawing from heroin.

However, like heroin, Xanax is highly addictive and can also be abused. For this reason, it is not recommended and is rarely prescribed for heroin addiction. You should only take it if instructed to do so by a medical expert and you are being monitored throughout your withdrawal. Otherwise, you may find you relapse and end up with two addictions instead of one.

Options for Heroin Rehab

There are several options for heroin rehab, including inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, and medication-assisted treatment. Inpatient treatment offers a structured environment where patients receive round-the-clock care and support from medical professionals. Outpatient treatment allows individuals to participate in therapy and support groups while living at home and maintaining daily responsibilities.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) involves using FDA-approved medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone to manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. MAT can be an effective component of a comprehensive treatment plan when combined with therapy and other support services. These medicines interact with the same opioid receptors in the brain as heroin, without producing any of the same effects. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), it is safe to continue using a partial opioid agonist like buprenorphine long term.

Residential Heroin Rehab Treatment

Our residential rehab programme at Smarmore Castle aims to improve the patient’s psychological health. It helps them to gain a better understanding of their drug addiction, the reasons behind it and how to change their behaviour.

Our clinically proven rehab programme is tailored to each individual based on their pattern of drug use and current circumstances. The patient experiences an intensive programme of specialised addictive therapies including individual therapy, group therapy, CBT, trauma therapy, grief therapy.

We take a holistic approach to care because we value spiritual well-being in addition to psychological health. At Smarmore Castle, we also offer complementary therapies to treat heroin addiction, including equine therapy, drumming therapy, mindfulness meditation, aquatherapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Our programme also improves the patient’s physical health with a combination of exercise and healthy, balanced meals.

How Long is Rehab for Heroin Treatment?

The heroin addiction treatment process typically begins with medical detoxification, followed by inpatient or outpatient treatment involving various therapies that address the psychological and emotional aspects of addiction.

Rehab duration for heroin treatment depends on various factors, such as the severity of the addiction, the patient’s physical and mental health, and the type of treatment programme. Generally, inpatient treatment programmes range from 30 days to several months, while outpatient programmes may be longer.

Following residential rehab, some patients may require ongoing treatment in the form of outpatient programmes, sober living facilities, or aftercare support. Choosing a treatment duration that provides the necessary time and support for lasting recovery is crucial.

Safe Detoxification from Drugs & Alcohol

Managed by our Medical Director, Psychiatrist, Doctors and Nurses.

Personalised Treatment Plans

The treatment process begins with a thorough assessment of each patient’s unique needs and circumstances. This assessment allows the staff to develop a customised treatment plan that addresses the individual’s specific requirements and supports their journey to recovery.

Medical Detoxification

For patients experiencing withdrawal, Smarmore Castle offers a medically supervised detoxification programme. This process ensures that patients are safely and comfortably weaned off heroin while under the care of experienced medical professionals.

  1. Inpatient care during detoxification
  2. 24-hour nursing support
  3. Medication management as needed.

Multidisciplinary Approach

Smarmore Castle utilises a multidisciplinary team of professionals to provide comprehensive care. This team includes psychiatrists, psychologists, addiction counsellors, nurses, and therapists, all working together to ensure each patient receives the support they need throughout their treatment.

Evidence-Based Therapies

We offer a variety of evidence-based therapies to address the physical, psychological, and emotional aspects of addiction. These therapies include:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)
  • 12-Step facilitation
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI)
  • Relapse prevention planning.

Holistic Treatment Options

In addition to traditional therapies, Smarmore Castle incorporates holistic treatment options to support patients’ overall well-being. These options include the following:

  1. Mindfulness and meditation
  2. Yoga and Tai Chi
  3. Equine-assisted therapy
  4. Art and music therapy
  5. Physical exercise and outdoor activities.

Family Support and Involvement

Recognising the importance of family support during recovery, Smarmore Castle encourages family members to participate in the treatment process. They offer a family programme that includes counselling, education, and support for loved ones, helping to strengthen relationships and promote lasting recovery.

Ongoing Treatment and Relapse Prevention

After completing an initial treatment programme, individuals should continue participating in therapy, support groups, and other recovery resources to maintain sobriety and prevent relapse. Developing a solid support network, learning effective coping strategies, and staying committed to one’s recovery are crucial components for maintaining long-term sobriety.

Ongoing Support at Smarmore Castle

Smarmore Castle is committed to ensuring patients have the necessary tools and resources to maintain their recovery after completing treatment. The clinic offers an aftercare programme that includes the following:

  • Regular follow-up appointments
  • Relapse prevention planning
  • Support group meetings
  • Assistance in finding local resources
  • Ongoing access to Smarmore Castle’s support network.

With its comprehensive approach to heroin addiction treatment, Smarmore Castle provides exceptional care for individuals seeking to overcome their addiction. By combining personalised treatment plans, evidence-based therapies, holistic options, family involvement, and ongoing support, Smarmore Castle offers a strong foundation for lasting recovery.

Don’t Stop Taking Medication

It is essential to follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations regarding medications for heroin addiction treatment. Consult with your healthcare professional if you have concerns or questions about your prescription. Never stop taking it without their approval. Stopping medication without proper guidance can lead to withdrawal symptoms, increased cravings, and a higher risk of relapse.

Walk the Road To Recovery Today

Smarmore’s addiction programme treats the whole person by addressing the underlying causes of the addiction. Our expert team of consultant psychiatrists, doctors, nurses and therapists work together as a multidisciplinary team to deliver evidence-based therapies in unrivalled facilities.

Discharge and Relapse Prevention

When the patient is ready to leave treatment, we work with them to devise a personalised, two-year continuing care plan. This plan guides their recovery process during this period and helps to prevent relapse. It includes engaging with peer support groups on re-entering their daily life, in order to consolidate their recovery in a normal environment.

Contact Us For Help to Overcome Heroin Addiction

If you, a family member, a friend, or a colleague is suffering from heroin addiction, please contact us for help. Our team is available on the phone to discuss treatment options with you and answer any enquiries you may have.

Studies of patient outcomes have shown that our residential rehab programme is a very effective form of treatment that ensures long-lasting sobriety.

Heroin – Frequently Asked Questions

What Does Heroin Look Like?

Heroin usually comes in powder form and can vary in colour – white or brown depending on its source. It can also be more solid and look black and gooey. This kind of heroin can also be found suspended in a liquid.

It is possible to find heroin in other forms. Gunpowder heroin looks like coffee grounds and crumbles to the touch. Cheese heroin is a combination of heroin and over-the-counter-cold medicine which is made into a cheese that can be crumbled.

By the time heroin reaches the street, and you, it will have been cut with other similar-looking things to increase its volume (so the dealers get more bang for their buck) and you will have no idea what they are or how much harm they can cause you. It could be baking soda or rat poison.

Can Collapsed Veins From Injecting Heroin Be Fixed?

If you inject heroin for an amount of time, your veins are likely to collapse, or ‘blow’. This means the veins become so swollen from the trauma of the needle, they create clotting inside the wall. The clots harden into scar tissue and the veins collapse inward, restricting blood flow until the vein closes completely and nothing can get through.

Not only does this mean you have to find other veins to use to inject heroin (and as more veins collapse, this becomes more difficult), it can lead to medical problems such as deep vein thrombosis, impaired blood circulation, skin infections, pain and abscesses.

The good news is that in most cases collapsed veins can be fixed. Many heal naturally over time while some do so after surgery. However, some may never recover and if a vein collapses twice due to persistent heroin use, it may never return to full function.

How Does It Feel to Be High on Heroin?

One user describes it as a powerful feeling of well-being not attainable naturally or even with other drugs. There’s reduced anxiety, euphoria, pain relief, and a host of other good feelings, including “the nods”, where you feel like you’re sleeping, but remain conscious.’

But the high is short-lived and with each hit, you need more and more to achieve the same high. That user went on to describe his heroin addiction as ‘a full-time job in hell’.

Why Can’t Heroin Be Snorted Like Cocaine?

Some people do snort heroin because they believe it is safer than injecting. It is often the preferred method by people who are more ‘casual’ heroin users. However, heroin is highly addictive and if you’re snorting it because you think it’s safer, you’re wrong. A high number of users go on to inject heroin within a year.

Not only does snorting heroin damage the nasal tissues, it is absorbed into the bloodstream slower than if it were injected. As you wait for the hit to take effect you might think it hasn’t worked, and take more, and this can lead to overdose.

What Are the Treatments for Heroin Use Disorder?

Heroin use disorder is treated with a mixture of medicine and therapy. Never decide to stop taking heroin without speaking to your GP first. They may prescribe you the heroin alternative methadone, which helps wean you off gradually and reduces the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Going cold turkey can be highly unpleasant, dangerous and unsuccessful.

Your GP may also be able to signpost you to organisations that can help with the cause of your addiction, which could be insecure housing, past trauma or financial concerns.

Talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, are an essential part of dealing with your substance abuse issue as it helps you understand the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that led you to become addicted and teach you how to alter these so you make different choices next time.

Treatment for heroin addiction needs to be approached holistically. At Smarmore Castle, we provide you with a bespoke treatment programme targeted to you, your addiction, your needs and your personality. Our aim is to get you off heroin safely and successfully, once and for all.

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