For anyone living with addiction, attempting to quit can be an uncomfortable, sometimes even painful experience. Because the prolonged use of heroin makes changes at the chemical level in a person’s brain, perceptions, feelings, and behaviors all become distorted.
Nevertheless, at Pacific Sands Recovery in Santa Ana, California we aim to help those living with heroin addiction to find lasting recovery. This starts with our medically supervised heroin detox in Orange County.
What is Heroin?
Heroin is an opioid made from morphine, a natural substance taken from the seed pod of poppy plants grown in and around Southeast and Southwest Asia, Mexico, and South America. Heroin can be a white or brown powder or a sticky dark substance known as “black tar heroin.”
When heroin enters the brain—either through intravenous (I.V.) injection, or it’s inhaled, or smoked—it is converted back into morphine. This morphine binds to the brain’s opioid receptors. As these opioid receptors govern the body’s perceptions of pain and pleasure, the morphine will increase the pleasurable feelings and decrease the pain.
Being an opioid, heroin is classified in the same category as morphine, fentanyl, opium, and prescription painkillers like oxycodone (OxyContin), and hydrocodone (Vicodin). The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), has classified heroin as a Schedule I drug, meaning it poses an “elevated risk” of addiction and has no legitimate medical use.
Like other opioids, heroin affects the body’s respiratory system and decreases the body’s heart rate. If not monitored, a slowed respiratory system can put a person into a coma and cause hypoxia, or brain damage due to the deprivation of oxygen. Heroin also carries the risk of overdose, collapsed veins, heart infections, liver and kidney disease, and the spreading of infectious diseases.
Aside from addiction, the most common effects of heroin abuse include:
- Infection of heart valves
- Abscesses at injection sites
- Heart attack
- Accidental overdose
What Happens During a Heroin Detox Program?
Heroin detox in Orange County is the process wherein a person stops using heroin. This allows the toxins in a person’s system to leave the body. Detoxing is the first step on the path to recovery from heroin addiction. Upon entering a heroin detox program, people usually undergo a health assessment. This helps determine the severity of the addiction.
The person doing the assessment—usually a doctor, nurse practitioner, or some other medical professional—also checks for any co-occurring mental health disorders. A co-occurring mental health disorder is a mental health disorder that has developed before or during a person’s abuse of heroin. Common co-occurring disorders include anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder.
Timeline of Heroin Withdrawal
- One to 24 hours. Withdrawal symptoms are felt within three hours of the last use. Sweating and body aches are common.
- 24 to 36 hours. Withdrawal symptoms intensify. The risk of psychological and physical complications increases.
- Days four through six. Heroin has left the system but the effects of withdrawal continue. The intensity of these symptoms may decrease but long-term users, or those with other health complications, may struggle.
- Day seven and onward. The most severe withdrawal symptoms have almost entirely subsided. Addressing the client’s addictive behavior and contributing factors can begin.
Visit the admissions page at Pacific Sands Recovery today to learn more about detox.
Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
When someone addicted to heroin stops using heroin—either due to unavailability or because they are trying to quit—their body will feel its absence. This leads to sometimes wild mood swings and personality changes along with the physical symptoms of withdrawal.
The physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:
- Stomach cramps
- Bone and muscle pain
- Muscle spasms
- Rapid heart rate
- Trouble breathing
- Intense cravings
Withdrawal from heroin is not life-threatening. However, certain combinations of withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous. For this reason, solo detox is a bad idea. Instead, those with a heroin addiction will want to seek a medically supervised heroin detox in Orange County, followed by professional addiction treatment.
MAT for Heroin Withdrawal
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for heroin withdrawal is a treatment approach that has proven safe and effective in helping people achieve a successful recovery from addiction. Those undergoing MAT for heroin addiction takes prescription medications to end their heroin use safely, without the painful withdrawal symptoms typical of kicking the habit.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are among several medical authorities that endorse the appropriate use of medications during detox and to help people maintain their recovery.
That said, MAT is not a “silver bullet” for addiction. Those taking medications for their heroin withdrawal symptoms must also participate in therapy sessions to develop the skills needed to avoid relapse. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several drugs to treat symptoms of heroin withdrawal.
Pacific Sands MAT program features the following prescription medications:
- Methadone is an opioid used for pain relief, addiction treatment, and maintenance of opiate dependence. Methadone binds to opioid receptors in the central nervous system to produce a pain-relieving effect similar to heroin or other high-strength painkillers.
- Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, meaning it works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain. This binding prevents the onset of heroin cravings and other withdrawal symptoms. Buprenorphine is included in several brand-name medications, including Suboxone, Subutex, Zubsolv, and Cassipa.
- Naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids like heroin, morphine, oxycodone, and fentanyl by blocking the opioid receptors in the central nervous system. Therefore, if a person uses heroin while taking naltrexone, they won’t experience any of its pleasurable effects. Brand name medications containing naltrexone include Vivitrol and Revia.
Find Quality Heroin Detox and Treatment in Orange County
When you are ready to get help for your heroin addiction, the personalized treatment programs of Pacific Sands Recovery in Orange County can help. We provide a caring, safe, and supportive detoxification program to enable you to get better and start your recovery journey on the right foot. We accept GEHA, Aetna and Beacon Health Options insurance plans for those who qualify.
To learn more about our heroin addiction treatment program, or our medication-assisted treatment, contact us today.