Heroin Addiction What to Watch For

When someone you love has a heroin addiction, it can be hard to tell if they are on heroin.

If you are aware of heroin abuse symptoms, then you may be able to save someone’s life.

Although heroin is one of the most addictive drugs available, and no one intends on becoming addicted, people find themselves easily addicted.

Once you become addicted, you may not feel normal without it.

Heroin Addiction What to Watch For Pathfinders - A woman stares at a needle with heroin in it. If you think a loved one is addicted to heroin you need to how to tell if someone is on heroin by looking for the signs here.

How to Tell if Someone is on Heroin: Signs

Although you might think that you would know if someone is using heroin, it may not be true.

So how can you tell if someone is on heroin?

There are a few signs of Heroin addiction to look for:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Small pupils
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Secretive behavior
  • Dramatic changes in appearance
  • Lack of motivation
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Financial problems
  • Borrowing money
  • Track marks

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Dangers of Heroin Addiction: How to Tell if Someone is High on Heroin

Heroin has addictive potential, and there are long-term and short-term effects of using this drug. There are also indirect risks that can be life-threatening.
In general, intravenous heroin users have a higher risk of being infected with viruses. These viruses might include HIV or hepatitis. Other blood-borne illnesses are a risk for those addicted to heroin because heroin users usually share needles. Additionally, risky sexual behavior can lead to high virus rates in heroin users.
Other ways to tell if someone is on heroin include:

  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Slurred speech
  • Paranoia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Collapsed veins
  • Severe itchiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea and vomiting

It is important to note that the side effects of heroin get worse over time. The longer someone uses heroin, the more the drug ruins the immune system and internal organs. Communicable and non-communicable diseases are common among heroin users, and long-term use may lead to heart, lung, and liver disease.
There is also the chance of a fatal overdose with heroin because it suppresses breathing and heart rates. Even a nonfatal overdose can cause permanent brain damage or coma.

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How to Tell if Someone is on Heroin: Recognizing Heroin Addiction

Due to it being physically and psychologically addictive, heroin can quickly lead to addiction. Stop addiction before it starts. Eleven signs indicate heroin addiction:

  1. Taking heroin in larger amounts or over a long period.
  2. Having the desire to cut down on heroin use or stop use and not being able to stop.
  3. Spending your time on activities associated with heroin: finding the drug, using it, or recovering from its effects.
  4. Craving heroin or having a strong desire to use.
  5. Consistent use that interferes with obligations, these obligations might be at work, school, or home.
  6. Continued use regardless of how it affects your social life.
  7. Giving up important activities to use heroin.
  8. Dangerous situations occur, repeatedly, because of heroin use.
  9. There is heroin use despite the danger and repercussions on both your physical and mental health.
  10. Tolerance has grown in two ways. You need more amounts to achieve the desired effect, or there are diminished drug effects when using the same amount.
  11. There is withdrawal after not using heroin for a short amount of time.

How to Tell if Someone is on Heroin With a Mental Illness

How to tell if someone is high on heroin? They have an increased risk of committing suicide because they have a mental condition, such as bipolar disorder or depression. These mental conditions can exacerbate addiction symptoms and also increase the risk of suicide.
Often there is depression that comes along with withdrawal as well. These feelings might trigger a suicide attempt, and it is important to try to help a heroin addict before this happens.

What is Dual Diagnosis?

When trying to decide how to tell if someone is on heroin, you need to see if they have a dual diagnosis. A dual diagnosis is when you have a mental health problem at the same time as a substance use disorder. When this occurs, it is crucial to treat the mental illness and substance use disorder. If you only treat one of your diagnoses, you will not obtain sobriety long term.

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How to Tell if Someone is on Heroin and How to Get Them Into Treatment

There are a few ways that you can attempt to get someone you love into treatment.

  • Choose a time and place that your loved one feels comfortable. Doing this in front of many people or before they run off to work is not the best time. Try to select a time that gives privacy, enough time to talk and physical comfort to the addicted person.
  • Make sure you will be able to remain as calm as possible. Do not try to make the situation seem carefree or pretend that it is not a big deal. Do try to keep an even tone and stay on the topic of addiction.
  • Be honest about how their addiction has made you feel, and make sure they understand how it has impacted your life. Often addicts feel that they are only hurting themselves with their addiction.
  • Always remember that addiction is a disease.
  • Listen to them and see if they are willing to speak about their addiction. If so, this is a good sign. How you decide to react will affect the entire tone of the meeting.
  • If possible, find a time when they are sober. But how to tell if someone is on heroin? Look for all the warning signs listed above. If they are sober, it may allow them to process the situation in a more rational headspace.
  • If you have attempted to speak to them already, you may want to hold a professional intervention.

Intervention

Because people addicted to heroin are often reluctant to go to treatment, holding an intervention can help. Even if someone is in the early stages of their addiction, an intervention may be helpful. Despite this, they may not see their use as a problem needing treatment. If they have attempted to quit previously without success, an intervention may be the only way to convince them to get help.

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Withdrawal

The best way to tell if someone is on heroin is to see if they show withdrawal symptoms. Heroin addiction has a physical dependence. This dependence develops with abuse and can also include a psychological dependency. Physical dependence includes withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, and vomiting.

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Learn How to Tell if Someone is on Heroin and Get Help Today

If you or someone you love needs help, contact us to learn about our free insurance verification for treatment.

At Pathfinders, we help you in any heroin addiction stage and help you understand how to tell if someone is on heroin.

Reach out today.

The Heroin Withdrawal Timeline: A Guide on What You Should Know

Know What Heroin Withdrawal Timeline Looks Like

If you use or are addicted to drugs, chances are you know it’s a good idea to stop.

But quitting is much easier said than done, not least of all because quitting means going through withdrawal.

And withdrawal can be a scary and painful process, especially if you’ve never gone through it before.

Knowing what the heroin withdrawal timeline looks like can help you know what to expect when you decide to quit.

You’ll know what’s coming, how long it will last, and when you’ll start to feel better.

Read on to learn more about this timeline and what to expect when you get ready to quit heroin.

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What Is Heroin?

Before we dive into the heroin withdrawal timeline, let’s take a moment to discuss what heroin actually is.

You may have heard of it by the names horse, hell dust, big H, or smack. Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine that is derived from the seeds of poppy flowers.

Heroin can come in a few different forms, including a white or brown powder or a black sticky substance called black tar heroin. It can be injected, snorted, or smoked, depending on the form.

Some people mix heroin and crack cocaine in a practice called speedballing.

Effects of Heroin

Because heroin is related to morphine, a drug used to control pain, one of its primary effects is a vanishing of any pain you may have been feeling.

Many users describe a sort of rush or wave of euphoria that comes over them right after they take the drug.

Other short-term effects can include dry mouth, nausea and vomiting, severe itching, clouded mental function, and drifting in and out of consciousness, sometimes known as “going on the nod.”

Long-term heroin effects can be devastating, ranging from insomnia and cramps to collapsed veins and livery and kidney disease. People with penises may experience sexual dysfunction, and people who have periods may start to have irregular cycles.

You may see swollen tissue filled with pus, damage to your nose, pneumonia, and a number of mental illnesses crop up, too.

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Heroin Withdrawal Timeline – The First Day

Heroin users may experience the early symptoms of withdrawal many times over the course of their use. These symptoms start between six and twenty-four hours after you take the drug and can last for a day or two.

These early symptoms are usually mild, but they can be unpleasant enough to lead the user to take heroin again to get rid of them.

Within that first day, you’ll start to feel like you have a bad case of the flu. You’ll get muscle aches that will get worse over the next couple of days.

You may also get anxiety or even panic attacks. You might get diarrhea or start shaking, and you may find yourself more irritable than usual.

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline – The Next Few Days

After the first day or two, symptoms of heroin withdrawal will start to peak. These few days are the worst of the heroin withdrawal cycle and are when you’ll need the most support around you.

You can expect these symptoms to start around the third day of no heroin use and will last two or three days.

During the peak of withdrawal, you’ll start to experience extreme stomach cramping and nausea or vomiting. You may start to sweat and get the shivers, and you might run a fever during this time.

You may have more diarrhea, and you might have trouble getting to sleep or settling down.

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline -  A man holds his stomach in pain as he cramps up and is sick. According to the heroin withdrawal timeline the symptons will show usually in day 3.
A man holds his stomach in pain as he cramps up and is sick.

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline – The End of the Week

About five days after you last use heroin, you’ll start to come into the end of the acute withdrawal phase. Your symptoms will start to improve across the board, and you’ll start to feel better.

There will be some lingering effects of withdrawal, but the worst will be over.

You may still have some trouble getting a full night’s rest during this stage, but you should be able to sleep a little more. Your muscle aches and nausea will start to wear off, and you’ll start to feel like you’re coming off a bad case of the flu.

You’ll feel very tired, and that fatigue can last for months, but your stomach and bowels will start to get back to normal, and your fever should subside.

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Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Even once you’re past the first week of acute withdrawal, you’re far from out of the woods. During that whole withdrawal process, you’ll be craving heroin to experience that high again, and that craving can last for months.

After the first week of acute withdrawal, you’ll enter post-acute withdrawal syndrome.

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome is the time when you’ll start to recover from the neurological damage that the heroin caused.

You may feel tired and irritable for months, and you may find you still have trouble sleeping. Anxiety and depression are common, and you may experience more cravings for heroin.

Factors That Affect Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

There are a number of factors that can affect how your withdrawal goes and how long it lasts. First among these is the amount of time you spent using heroin.

If you’ve only used heroin a couple of times, you’re going to have a much easier time in withdrawal than someone who’s been using heroin for years.

Which kind of heroin you use can also impact what your withdrawal experience is like. Things like speedballing or using black tar heroin can complicate your withdrawal, depending on the purity of the substances.

The amount of heroin you took each time can also affect how intense your symptoms are.

Medical Intervention

When you’re going through withdrawal, it can be a good idea to have a medical team around you monitoring you and keeping you comfortable.

Things like dehydration, fever, and seizures can present very real threats during the detox process. And if you’re quitting cold-turkey after years of using high amounts of heroin, especially mixed with other drugs, having medical help could save your life.

Doctors and nurses can provide you with IVs to help keep you hydrated and comfortable during withdrawal. They can take steps to ensure that something like a fever or a seizure doesn’t become life-threatening.

And they can make sure you get all the way through the withdrawal process without succumbing to the cravings and taking more heroin, starting the process all over again.

Helpful Medications

In addition to basic comforts, doctors may also be able to provide you with some medications that can help you during the heroin withdrawal timeline.

These medicines may be opioid-based, so they can help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. But they aren’t as potent or as dangerous as heroin, so you get clean in a safer, easier way.

Methadone is a slow-acting, low-strength opiate that can help you taper off the effects of heroin and prevent withdrawal symptoms. Buprenorphine can reduce heroin cravings and symptoms like vomiting and muscle aches.

And naltrexone blocks receptors in the brain that respond to heroin, helping to reduce cravings in the long-term.

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Long-Term Treatment

Once you’re through the initial withdrawal stage, you still have a long road ahead of you to recovery. For one thing, you’ll need to get through post-acute withdrawal syndrome and past the point of craving heroin, which can take months or even years.

You’ll need to restructure your life to avoid triggers that make you tempted to start using again.

But oftentimes, there’s an underlying issue that led you to start taking heroin in the first place. This could be anything from chronic pain, mental illness, or some sort of emotional trauma.

Before you can get back to living a healthy, happy life free of heroin, you’ll need to deal with that underlying problem.

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline at Home

Although it is not recommended, it is possible to go through heroin withdrawal at home. If you plan to do this, it’s a good idea to have a loved one around to help you through the process.

They can help keep you from giving in to the cravings and make sure you get medical attention if there are complications.

Ask for a week off work before you go through this process, and stock up on supplies. You’ll need lots of fluids, healthy food, and hygiene necessities like toilet paper.

And once you’re through the initial withdrawal process, be sure you join some sort of support group or rehab to keep from relapsing in the next several months.

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Learn More About the Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

Heroin withdrawal is a difficult process that you need help to get through. Knowing the heroin withdrawal timeline can help you know what to expect and how long things will last.

By the time you hit day four or five, knowing that these symptoms won’t last forever can help keep you motivated to push through.

If you’d like help detoxing from heroin, come see us at Pathfinders Recovery Center.

We have programs for heroin addiction, as well as methamphetamine addiction, prescription pill addiction, and alcoholism.

Contact us today to take the first step on your road to a happier, healthier life.

Withdrawal Help: How to Fight Through Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms and Come Out on Top

Many of us know someone who has struggled with opioid addiction. If not yourself, perhaps it was a family member or close friend. Opioids affect a lot of families throughout the United States, so know that you’re not alone in dealing with them.

In fact, statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicate the numbers of affected patients is significant. Studies show that 21 to 29 percent of patients who were medically prescribed opioids for chronic pain end up misusing them. On top of that, over 72,000 cases of death due to drug overdose have been recorded in a single year.

It’s clear that opioids affect many people throughout the country. If you or someone you know is undergoing a transition to sobriety from opioids, he or she will likely experience opioid withdrawal. Even though the transition can be challenging, consider these tips providing withdrawal help for you and your family.

Know What To Expect By Doing Your Research

Every opioid abuser has a different physical composition. That means that each patient has a different relationship with the substance, including how their body will react to opioid withdrawals.

Still, there are certain things you can expect that most patients experience during opioid withdrawals. If you’re a serious opioid abuser, you might already be familiar with the first symptoms of opioid withdrawals.

Within 6 to 12 hours, minor symptoms start to appear. These include muscle aches, excessive yawning, trouble sleeping, headaches, or even a fever. It’s around this time that most common opioid abusers give in and go back to their substance.

If the patient holds out, though, the worst part of withdrawals typically happens around 72 hours after last using the substance. These patients experience serious nausea, stomach cramps, depression, and serious cravings for the drugs.

After these intense symptoms, patients will still exhibit irritability and trouble adapting to life without drugs for up to weeks after last using. It’s up to them and the community around them to maintain sobriety through every avenue possible.

Maintain a Positive Attitude, Even When It’s Tough

The first step to remember is to remember your perspective throughout the entire process of transitioning to sobriety. Though withdrawal symptoms may be physical, the battle you’ll be finding is a mental one. You will be challenged to work through your pain instead of reaching for the drug again.

Don’t be too hopeful about maintaining such a positive outlook, though. It’s going to be pretty tough at times to remember that sobriety is worth the effort.

Many people go back to misusing their drug of choice simply because they choose to ignore their pain rather than fight through it. Break the cycle be sticking through even the toughest parts of the process.

There are benefits to staying grateful for being able to challenge yourself with sobriety. Consider this guidance to remain grateful even during your darkest times of overcoming opioid addiction.

Stay Connected To Surrounding Friends and Family Members

Not only will transitioning to sobriety challenge you in physical and mental ways. You’ll also be tested in an emotional capacity.

Many people don’t realize that drug abuse affects their emotional stability. The effects of consistent drug abuse can numb the natural coping mechanisms we’re supposed to use. When patients quit taking those numbing opioids, they tend to struggle with coping with emotions again.

Some patients overcoming addiction are fortunate enough to already be surrounded by family members and friends. Not everyone is so lucky, though. That’s why it might be necessary for some people to enter into a treatment facility to be surrounded by caring hands.

A stable community of support is crucial for adjusting a patient’s emotions back to normal. Consider this guidance for dealing with emotions during early sobriety.

Cultivating genuine relationships during withdrawals can be the difference between success and failure. Make sure you don’t try to handle the transition to sobriety all on your own.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask for Help

As mentioned above, you’ll need other people around you to be successful in your sobriety. At the very least, you need to be able to talk to someone about your struggles throughout the process.

Misusing opioid substances ends turning our brain chemistry to have a dependency on those substances. It’s no wonder that many who attempt to quit the drug abuse turn back to it. The brain literally becomes hardwired to need the substance for peace.

Take care, though, to allow your brain to readjust after dependency on opioids. You’ll find that your cognition and emotional stability seem much healthier when you’re sober.

For a while after transitioning to sobriety, many patients tend to deal with symptoms of anxiety or depression. It’s unfortunate that the mood is so affected, but it’s important to prepare for.

Sometimes it can seem as though the transition to sobriety is too much for someone to handle. As difficult as it can be to deal with these strong withdrawal symptoms, don’t be afraid to ask for help during your dark times. There are plenty of resources available to assist you, such as the National Helpline for substance abuse.

Exercise At Least a Little Bit Every Day

It’s no secret that your body is going to go through some serious changes during this transition. You know from your research that you’ll experience trouble with energy levels and sleeping habits. The good news is that there are efforts you can take to help regulate your body’s needs.

That regulation starts with a thorough exercise routine. Don’t worry – you don’t need to become a bodybuilder just to transition away from drug abuse. It is a good idea though, even if just to maintain some level of routine.

It’s common that opioid abusers don’t make a habit of exercising while abusing substances. Since transitioning to sobriety is such a dramatic lifestyle shift, exercising can help normalize a sober life. For many, exercise is even a chance to substitute unhealthy habits for healthy ones.

Don’t push yourself, though. Only work out to the extent of whatever is recommended by your doctor. Don’t expect to be very active right off the bat.

Even if you only take a brisk walk every day, you’ll be off to a good start in your new sober lifestyle. You deserve to make the most of your new, healthy life of sobriety.

Get Plenty of Rest

Along the lines of physical health, don’t forget about your sleep cycle. It’s an unfortunate truth that going through opioid withdrawals could negatively affect your sleep. Don’t worry, though – there are steps you can take.

It might be difficult to get to sleep, especially at first during withdrawals. Do your best to stick to a regular sleep schedule anyway. Even if you’re only laying down without sleep for eight hours, your body will technically still get the rest it needs.

Over time, your brain will get used to calming down around the same time. The goal is to normalize a healthier sleep cycle than the one you had to rely on opioids for.

You’ll eventually notice that your sleep cycle becomes more regular. This is a sign that most of your withdrawal symptoms are wearing down. Work through those difficult withdrawal times knowing that a regular sleep cycle will surely be worth the investment.

Monitor Your Diet and Nutrition

Along with plenty of exercise and rest, don’t forget to watch your diet during addiction recovery. Your body is going to need all the natural help it can get to readjust without opioids.

The first thing to think about is making sure you drink plenty of water. Dehydration can be a huge problem for many patients overcoming opioid dependency. Make sure you drink at least 8 glasses of water every day while you’re going through withdrawals.

When it comes to what you eat, do your best to stick to healthy greens and grains. That means you need to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. It also means you need to minimize the number of carbohydrates and fats you consume.

Examples of healthy foods to eat include leafy greens like spinach or salads. You should also look at nuts and non-meat proteins.

Your body is doing a lot of internal work when it is readjusting to a life without opioids. Give it the vitamins and minerals it needs to stay strong during this time.

Check Out Recovery Facilities

It’s clear that recovering addicts need to be surrounded by a supportive and helpful community. The withdrawal process can be long and arduous.

For those patients who aren’t fortunate enough to have family members and friends ready and available, recovery facilities are normally available. Do plenty of research to find the best treatment center in your area.

Stay Informed About Withdrawal Help

As you recovery from opioid abuse, you deserve to be around as much withdrawal help as is available. We know how important it is to take the matter of your recovery seriously.

We encourage you to stay as informed as possible about the recovery process. Check out the rest of our blog today to learn about withdrawals and other parts related to the recovery process.

 

Everything You Need to Know About Overdose Prevention Toolkits

More than 72,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2017. More than half of those deaths were due to opioids.

Every day we read another article about someone dying from opioid abuse. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and beloved celebrities like Prince, and most recently Demi Lovato, are falling victim to these drugs.

Which is why the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) has recently released updates to its Overdose Prevention Toolkits. These toolkits are helpful for overdose prevention.

They can save someone’s life. But first, you need to understand what these toolkits are for and how to use them properly.

Keep reading to learn about overdose awareness and how to use the opioid overdose kit.

Facts About Overdose Prevention

Part of the problem when dealing with opioids is that those who do not use or abuse these drugs aren’t aware of what the signs of an overdose are. Recognizing the signs in a timely manner can help save someone’s life. Let’s go over the signs now.

Signs of an Overdose

One way to promote overdose prevention is by sharing the common signs of an overdose. Since people rarely die immediately from an overdose, there’s usually time to help save a life by knowing how to respond.

When in doubt, call 911.

If someone has lost consciousness or is unresponsive to outside stimuli, it’s a good chance they’re overdosing. Check to see if their breathing is slow, shallow, erratic or has stopped altogether. A limp body is also a sign they’re overdosing.

A slow, erratic or not there pulse is also a sign someone is in distress and needs immediate help.

Listen for the “Death Rattle”

In some cases, the person may be awake, but if they are unable to speak, it’s a sign they could be overdosing. Listen for choking or a gurgling noise that sounds similar to someone snoring, this is known as the “death rattle”.

Those with lighter skin, their skin tone may turn a bluish purple. For those with darker skin, their skin tone may appear ashen or grayish. In either case, their face will be pale and/or clammy. Check their nails and lips to see if they’re turning purplish black or blue.

Another sign of an overdose is vomiting.

Signs Someone is High on Opioids

Seeing someone high on opioids or heroin-based drugs can seem very scary to those who don’t abuse drugs. But if you’re worried someone is getting too high, it’s important not to leave them alone.

If this happens to you, monitor their breathing and keep them awake by walking them around.

To help you recognize the signs of opioid abuse, check their pupils. Their pupils will be contracted and look smaller than normal.

Their muscles may be droopy and it’s difficult for them to walk or function properly. They may start passing out. Their speech may be affected and slurring is possible.

Check to see if they appear to be scratching at itchy skin or if they start passing out but then respond to you shaking them or reacting to a loud noise.

If you feel you are out of your depths with helping someone you believe is overdosing, call 911 and ask for help.

Those Who are Most at Risk

Addictions don’t happen overnight. And those who are addicted often hide it well from others. Part of overdose awareness is understanding who is most at risk. Let’s take a look.

Long-Term Pain Management Users

Many people rely on opioids to manage their long-term pain. When used correctly, opioids are very helpful. Unfortunately, when used in the long-term, it can easily lead to overuse.

As the body builds up a tolerance, some people may begin to take more to get the same type of relief they were previously.

Others who are receiving opioid medication regimens are at a higher risk for incomplete cross-tolerance.

Abuse Drugs or Have a History of Drug Abuse

Those who have a history of substance abuse are also at high risk for overdosing or abusing opioids. And those who are currently abusing illicit drugs also have a higher risk of overdosing.

What the Opioid Overdose Kit Does

The opioid overdose kit was created to help 911 First Responders, medical personnel, and the public deal with the opioid crisis. The more all of us understand how dangerous opioids are and that we can all help, the more lives we can save.

If you believe you are witnessing someone have an overdose or if you believe you are overdosing, do not wait. Call 911 immediately. First responders are trained in overdose prevention.

However, First Responders are the last tool in preventing an overdose. Physicians and the support of friends and family can help prevent abuse in the first place. Keep reading to learn how.

How Prescribers Can Prevent Opioid Abuse

It’s incredibly important for physicians who prescribe opioids to their patients to carefully monitor the patient for the entire duration of them taking the drugs. Physicians should first ask the patient if there is a history of drug abuse.

State Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

To help combat opioid abuse, many states have developed a prescription drug monitoring program. This way, a physician can check to see if a patient is being prescribed other medications from another doctor.

Choosing the Appropriate Medication

Part of overdose awareness is having the physician make choices on what type of medication is most appropriate based on a few factors.

First, the severity of the problem should be taken into account. Doctors should err on the side of caution rather than prescribing strong drugs for minor issues.

The doctor also needs to take into account how well the patient is able to take their medications properly. Those on opioids long-term should be closely monitored with follow up appointments.

The doctor needs to take into consideration the likelihood of the prescribed drug becoming a risk factor for the patient. Some drugs aren’t as habit-forming as others.

Educate the Patient

Every physician should carefully explain the effects all prescribed medications will have on them. Patients need to understand the likelihood of abusing the drugs and how to ask for help if they find they are becoming more dependent on them.

All patients should fully understand the risks and benefits of any medication they are prescribed.

And those patients who are taking a high-risk medication or are at a higher risk for abuse, a physician should consider prescribing Naxolone in the event of an overdose.

When to End the Prescription

In some cases, it’s necessary to end the prescription because the patient is showing signs of abuse. Here’s how to recognize those signs.

If the patient is caught altering or selling their prescriptions or has engaged in doctor shopping, it’s time to stop the behavior. And if a patient is consistently running out of their medication too early or they are threatening a physician, it’s time to get them the help they need.

How Yourself and Others Can Help

When someone is abusing drugs, it’s important for everyone to get involved to aid in overdose prevention. The opioid overdose kit helps friends and family spot the warning signs and provides them with information on appropriate actions to take.

All drugs should always be kept in a safe place away from children and animals. If possible, keep your prescription narcotics in a locked space so that other family members aren’t tempted.

If you are on opioids that are prescribed by your doctor, only take the medicine as it’s been prescribed by your doctor.

Mixing your prescription drugs with alcohol or other drugs is dangerous. It’s very easy to overdose when too many substances are in your body. Do not mix your drugs.

When someone in the family is taking an opioid, or other strong prescription drugs, it’s very important that everyone knows what the signs of an overdose are. Everyone in the household should also know what steps to take in case of an overdose.

Always properly dispose of any unused medications. It’s not safe to leave them lying around.

What is Naxolone

Naxolone, otherwise known as Narcan is an extremely important part of the opioid overdose kit. This drug is the antidote to an opioid overdose as it reverses the effects of the opioid.

However, Naxolone does not act as an overdose prevention when a person has taken benzodiazepines like Valium, Klonopin or Xanax. Naxolone also won’t work against barbiturates like Florinal or Seconal.

And Naxolone won’t work if the person has taken stimulants like amphetamines or cocaine. However, if the person mixed other drugs along with an opioid, it is possible that Naxolone will work.

Side Effects and Dangers of Naxolone

There are many possible side effects of Naxolone. It’s also possible to experience side effects of opioid withdrawal after being administered Naxolone.

Immediately call 911 or your physician if you’ve been administered Naxolone and experience things like chest pain or fast heartbeats. Naxolone may also cause vomiting, sweating, and a severe headache.

You may experience convulsions or slow breathing. It’s also possible to experience an allergic reaction to Naxolone.

Get Help Today

The most tragic part of overdose prevention is that most overdose deaths can be prevented. Overdose awareness needs to continue so that everyone knows the warning signs.

The stigma of seeking out help needs to be removed. Everyone deserves to be supported and feel safe.

If you or a loved one needs help, don’t wait until it’s too late. Contact us today and we’ll help you find out how much of your rehabilitation process is covered by your insurance.

Understanding the Opioid Epidemic in Arizona

The United States as a whole is facing a health crisis of epic proportions. More and more Americans are becoming addicted to – and dying from – opioids. Not one American state goes unscathed. Arizona, in particular, has slowly taken a big hit over the last decade. The opioid epidemic in Arizona now claims the lives of two people each day. The state has begun to collect data regarding opioid abuse. And recently, Blue Cross Blue Shield invested $10 million to reduce opiate misuse. But despite the efforts, many Arizonans are still misinformed about the state-wide epidemic. To help, we’ll explore everything about Arizona’s opioid crisis in this article.

Let’s begin!

When Did the Opioid Epidemic Begin?

The opiate epidemic is a recent phenomenon that has slowly been in the works since the 1990’s. But the presence of opiates in the United States dates as far back as the country’s foundation.

Early History of Opiates in the United States

It’s believed that opium first came over along with the pilgrims aboard the Mayflower. Back then, people used the opium poppy for the same reasons that doctors prescribe them today. Opiates have long treated pain, diarrhea, coughing, and also works as a sedative.

addiction treatment, heroin addiction treatment, dual diagnosis treatment center in arizona, cooccurring disorders treatment, meth detox scottsdale arizona, meth rehab arizonaBy the 19th century, Americans used opium to treat a wide range of medical issues. Doctors prescribed morphine to dying patients suffering from cancer.

Medics also used morphine as an anesthetic. It’s probable that medics administered morphine during the Mexican-American War. It’s also likely that physicians who settled in Arizona brought over opiates. Patented medications for teething and menstrual cramps began to contain opium. After the Civil War, the pharmaceutical company, Bayer, introduced heroin on the national market. Following this, heroin became widely used as a medicine into the early 20th century.

20th Century Stigmatization

In the early 1900’s, the federal government outlawed opiates in all its forms. Doctors could only prescribe them in medically necessary situations.

But even so, physicians during this time were vastly limited when it came to prescribing them. They were also limited when it came to treating opiate addiction. Despite all this, drug abuse continued to increase across the United States. During Prohibition, opiate users were further stigmatized. The concept of “junkie” came into being during this time.

The Rise of Prescription Painkillers

recovery center in scottsdale, recovery center in arizona, recovery center in phoenix, addiction treatment center, dual diagnosis recovery center, dual diagnosis treatment, heroin addiction help, get sober todayAmerican physicians continued to fight for the right to prescribe opiates. Soon after, the federal government began to recognize the medical value of opiates. By the 1960’s, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, and other synthetic opiates came into being. Recreational opiate and heroin use skyrocketed during this time. Fears of prescribing opiates arose once again.

But despite all this, the prescription painkiller market surged – and continues to. Even though opiate addiction is now at an all-time high, it’s a problem that our nation has faced for over a century.

Why & How Did the Opioid Epidemic Happen?

Medicine and science have never been as advanced as it is today. We understand how to treat many diseases and conditions a lot better than we used to. However, our understanding of how to treat pain is still extremely weak. And to a large extent, the opioid crisis that our nation and the state of Arizona faces results from this.

Doctors Don’t Understand Pain Treatment & Management

It’s estimated that 100 million Americans live with chronic pain.

With such a big number as this, physicians would seem to have a better understanding of treatment. But that is, unfortunately, not the case.

Doctors only receive about 9 hours of education about pain over the course of medical school. To make matters worse, the federal government doesn’t adequately fund pain research. In fact, the National Institutes of Health only spend 1% of its budget ($358 million) per year on pain research.

Many doctors don’t understand how addictive opiates can be. They don’t understand how to wean their patients off them. Many patients wind up misusing their prescriptions, becoming addicted as a result.

Do Physicians Over-Prescribe Opiates?

It was once believed that American physicians under-prescribed opiates for pain treatment. Because of widespread stigmas against opiates, many doctors continue to fear to prescribe them. But that’s not to say that physicians aren’t over-prescribing them, either.

Many Americans in need of relief don’t have enough access to painkillers. Only about 5% of chronic pain patients have prescriptions for painkillers. But to a larger extent, Americans may have too much access to prescription opiates.

It’s known that some pharmaceutical companies have vigorous lobbying and marketing campaigns. Physicians are often the target of these marketing ploys.

In 2016, doctors prescribed 431 million painkillers. This was enough for every Arizonan to have a 2.5 week supply.

And again, many doctors don’t understand how to adequately treat patients with opiates. As of 2016, more than 70% of overdose fatalities occurred among patients who became addicted while treating their chronic pain. In Arizona, 4 out of 5 new heroin users start because of prescription painkiller misuse.

Health Insurance Doesn’t Cover Alternative Medicine

The opioid overdose epidemic has caused many pain patients to turn to other forms of therapy.

We’ve all heard of physical therapy and alternative therapy, like acupuncture and chiropractic. These forms of therapy yield great results in the treatment and management of pain. But many people suffering in pain are unable to afford them.

Certain health insurance policies may cover acupuncture, biofeedback, massage therapy, and chiropractic care. But as of 2007, Americans spent $33.9 billion out-of-pocket for alternative medicine.

This figure is likely much higher today. With high health insurance premiums, many Americans are unable to afford alternative medicine. In Arizona, 17% of residents are still uninsured as rates continue to increase for the insured.

Heroin as a Cheap and Dangerous Substitute

Millions of Americans not only suffer from chronic pain. Many of them are unable to obtain and afford adequate treatment. And many who take prescription painkillers find themselves prone to addiction.

As a result of these factors, many people have turned to heroin for relief.

Heroin and prescription painkillers are all derived from opium. Heroin is specifically derived from morphine while painkillers come from codeine. Despite the slight variations, heroin has the same – if not, a more powerful – effect as painkillers.

Heroin is not only a substitute for painkillers. It’s cheaper and easier to obtain.

In fact, a bag of heroin costs less than a pack of cigarettes. This means that in Arizona, a bag of heroin can cost anywhere from $5-$8.

Most heroin in the United States comes from Mexico. With Arizona right on the Mexican border, heroin is readily available on the streets.

Opioid and prescription overdoses in Arizona have increased in the last few years. But since 2016, heroin overdoses have tripled in Arizona.

Where Are Overdoses Occurring in Arizona?

Opiate overdoses have occurred in both urban and rural Arizona. But some areas are more ravaged by overdoses than others.

A concentration of overdoses has occurred all over the Phoenix metropolitan area. The northeast parts of the Tucson metropolitan area has also experienced many.

The cities of Buckeye, Flagstaff, and Kingman – and all surrounding areas – have also had high overdoses.

Fighting the Opioid Epidemic in Arizona

The opioid crisis has been in the making to become an epidemic since the 19th century. American physicians continue to prescribe painkillers without a firm understanding of them. Nor does the medical community understand how to provide adequate pain treatment.

With rising healthcare costs, many people addicted to painkillers are turning to heroin.

Many Arizonans wonder what is being done to address the opioid epidemic in Arizona. Here’s how the state is fighting the epidemic as of now.

Naloxone

In 2017, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey declared opioid overdoses a public health emergency. Since then, the state has integrated Naloxone as part of its efforts to combat the opioid crisis.

Slow breathing occurs with opiate use. But when someone overdoses, their breathing can stop altogether. It can also be near impossible to wake someone up while they’re overdosing.

Naloxone, otherwise known by its brand name, Narcan, is a narcotic blocker. When administered, it reverses the effects of opioids. It comes in the form of injections and nasal sprays.

The state of Arizona has trained emergency personnel on how to administer Narcan. Recently, Narcan became available at CVS stores across Arizona.

Narcan is by no means a cure for the opiate epidemic. However, it is an antidote that is saving more lives every day across the United States.

Arizona Opioid Emergency Action Plan

Since the declaration of Arizona’s opioid crisis, opioid overdose cases have decreased.

Statewide overdoses began to decrease after the implementation of new prescription guidelines. This decreasing trend also coincided with the state’s surveillance reporting system.

The Opioid Action Plan came into enactment in September 2017. The action plan aims to increase patient and public awareness as prevention methods. The plan also improves prescription practices and access to treatment facilities.

The Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act took effect in April 2018. This law enforces limitations on prescription opioids.

Under this law, physicians can no longer dispense prescriptions themselves. Physicians who prescribe opiates must take routine education courses on opioids. Pharmacies are also required to check into the Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program.

Seeking Help for Opioid Addiction

Huge strides in the fight against opioid addiction have occurred in Arizona. But the opioid epidemic in Arizona is still alive and well, much like it is in the rest of the United States.

Still, there is hope for the future of Arizonans affected by opiate addiction.

Do you or someone you know suffer from heroin or painkiller addiction? A healthier and sober future is possible, and the Pathfinders Recovery Center is here to help.

To learn more about how we can help you at our Scottsdale, AZ facility, contact us today!

 

Signs of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Relapse

What are the Reasons Relapse May Occur?

For addicts going through the recovery process, most have been told something along the lines of “relapse is a part of recovery.” Is relapse part of the recovery process? The simple answer is no. Many individuals in recovery find success the first time around. However, alcoholics and drug addicts may experience a relapse, or multiple, when attempting to get clean and sober from their drugs of choice. Relapsing can be devastating to addicts themselves, but can also take a toll on the loved ones that surround them. This article is meant to inform those who suffer from addiction and their friends and family different reasons why this may continue happening, and how to deal with relapse as it comes.


Why Does an Addict Relapse?

drug-addiction-relapse

Addiction is unpleasant (to say the least) for the person suffering and their loved ones. Many people wonder what is the cause of addiction. Debated by some, addiction is a disease that results in changes to the brain from continued substance abuse. Addiction is not a disease that develops overnight; we generally pass through a series of phases that begin with experimenting and partying from time to time, gradually developing into loss of control regarding our substance intake.

Our substance use, be it alcohol or drugs, becomes compulsive and renders us acting irrational and abnormal. After an addict has been sober for some time the tendency to relapse is very strong. The data shows that each time you try to stay sober your likelihood of gaining lasting sobriety increases.


How our Brains Work in Conjunction With Addiction Relapse

Our brains contain complex reward systems, developed over time and evolved to help us pursue the things necessary to our survival (i.e. food, reproduction, etc). Our frontal lobes (the part of our brain that develops last and is crucial in our ability to predict, reason, and create) help us weigh the consequences of our impulses. When this system is functioning in conjunction with one another it helps us to make better decisions for ourselves.

However, in an addict it is as if our reward systems do not communicate properly with the frontal lobe in a cohesive and logical way. Our sensitive reward system can be triggered very easily causing us to crave drugs or alcohol. To sum it up, our minds don’t allow us to think the consequences of our actions through clearly, even after some time in recovery has passed.

Can you cure a drug addict? Many addicts believe their disease is one that will last forever, but this notion isn’t true. Thankfully, addiction is a disease that can be successfully treated. Education is key in kicking addiction. That’s why it’s so important to seek out the resources and information about different treatment options


Warning Signs of a Potential Relapse

drug addiction relapse, pathfinders recovery center in scottsdale arizona, heroin addiction treatment, meth detox center in scottsdale arizona

  • Excusing unhealthy behaviors – after some time passes it can become easier to slow down on internal growth and honest self-appraisal.  This happens so subtly that we don’t always notice when this is happening.  Then after some time we begin to justify the behaviors that risk our sobriety and increase our chances of relapse. We know in our hearts the behaviors are wrong yet we do them anyway.  This leads us to feelings of shame, anxiety, guilt etc…
  • Obsessing about work, money, or a romantic interest – These are good things for us to have in our lives.  The key is to learn not to obsess, and let these distract us from our primary goal of staying sober and learning to love ourselves.
  • Unhealthy spending habits – This is something that many addicts and alcoholics struggle with early in recovery.  Being irresponsible with our finances can lead to a heavy burden on our lives.  This is not conducive to the new life we are trying to lead and can produce more stress and anxiety.
  • Elevated levels of stress and anxiety – Most people that suffer from addiction are not monitoring this effectively in their early recovery. Therefor they cannot intervene on this in a healthy manner.  This can lead to the thought process of “a drink or a drug sounds like a good idea.”
  • Isolating – Because we as addicts have a tendency to  experience difficulty in monitoring our behavior and being honest with ourselves about the impact of that behavior, we need a sober social network and support system to help us see the truth. A sober social network can help us see how we are truly doing internally, and help us redirect the driving force of those behaviors into a healthy and more productive outlet.  We don’t do this alone and the beautiful thing about recovery is that we do not have to.
  • Romanticizing and glorifying your addiction – It is very easy for us to fall into this way of thinking, our minds remember the good times we had throughout our addiction, which there were plenty of.  If we didn’t enjoy it for so long before our lives came crashing down we would not have kept using drugs or drinking.  It can be difficult to remember the hangovers, withdrawals, lying, isolation, loneliness and pain we experienced that led us to try and get sober in the first place.  Make no mistake about it, it starts with a lot of fun but when the party is over, it is over.
  • Being a pessimist and forecasting negatively for your life – No one likes to feel depressed and hopeless.  Being honest and in touch with the real challenges that are ahead of us, while maintaining optimistic about those outcomes helps us to function more effectively. Having foresight for our futures, and believing we can be successful is key.  “those who believe they can, and those who believe that cannot are both usually right.”

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction please call Pathfinders Recovery Center today and speak with one of our founders directly.  You are not alone, and there is hope.

Contact Us Today

(855) 728-4363

The Heroin Effect Of The Mind & Body

Heroin Use Today

Heroin is an opioid, first synthesized and sold in the late 1800’s. Like other opioids, heroin has a calming affect on the body, used as an antidepressant and a painkiller. Opioids have been used for centuries to provide relief from pain beginning in Egypt before making their way to Europe and India.

Derived from opium poppy sap, opioids can be found in the form of powder, tablets, pills, syrups and capsules. Heroin is typically sold in a powder that is most commonly injected, but can also be snorted smoked or sniffed. It is one of the most addictive substances on the market, which is why it is the most deadly. It has become one of the most widely used drugs amongst users worldwide with statistics rising everyday.

In the United States, heroin addiction has become an epidemic. In our country alone there are currently over one million heroin users across the nation. This startling number is five times what it was in 2000, increasing at a dramatic, unprecedented rate. Over 10,000 individuals die of a heroin overdose every year, which accounts for roughly 60% of all drug related deaths. In the past, most of the country’s heroin use was confined to urban areas. This is no longer the case as heroin addiction has spiked in suburban and rural communities, as well.

It is important for all of use to be educated about heroin addiction and how to deal with the issues that have risen because of our country’s epidemic. We must be armed with the facts about heroin abuse to start combating the problem and making headway towards a solution for the future. This article is intended to inform others on exactly how heroin addiction affects the mind and body of a drug addict. We will be discuss, explain and explore dopamine, opiate receptors, and the symptoms and side effects of heroin addiction.

effects-of-heroin-addiction

Key Concepts in Opioid Addiction

Opioids are a group of drugs that have been and are still used for medical purposes across the globe. Morpheme and codeine are common opiates that are prescribed to alleviate pain after surgery and to combat the side effects of certain illnesses. These are the key concepts that allow heroin alter our physical and mental states:

Dopamine – A neurotransmitter that controls emotions, motivation, movement and pleasure and plays a major role in reward based systems. Certain drugs, like heroin, produce excess amounts of dopamine in the brain. This dramatic increase in a feeling of euphoria is what keeps addicts coming back for more. The brain is rewarded with a spike in dopamine when a an addict is using heroin, causing it to crave the drug to produce another high.

Opioid receptors – A group of receptors in the brain with opioids as ligands, a molecule that binds to another. When opiates attach to the group of receptors, the brain sends signals to block pain and other senses related to emotion. The result is slower breathing and a calming feeling.

Opiates and Opioids – Alkaloid compounds naturally found in the opium poppy plant. Psychoactive compounds are found in opiates that trigger different sensations in the brain and body.

GABA – A Neurotransmitter that plays an important role in anxiety and more. Typically, GABA inhibits the amount of dopamine that is released in the brain. However, the use of opioids prevents GABA from working properly, allowing excess amounts of dopamine to be produced when heroin is in the system.

What Happens To Our Bodies When We Use Heroin?

When heroin is introduced into the bloodstream it travels to our brain and attaches itself to the opiate receptors in the cortex. What happens next? Our bodies produce dopamine in excess and our brain becomes flooded with the neurotransmitter. We experience an intense feeling of euphoria and pleasure, rewarding our brain for using the heroin. Opioid abuse also decreases our level of GABA. Low levels of this neurotransmitter are linked to irregular sleep patterns, depression, excessive stress, and anxiety. Because GABA is involved in the slowing of dopamine release, without this key component dopamine is produced in higher levels.

During my heroin addiction, the drugs made me not have a care in the world. I felt euphoria every time I was using and I couldn’t be brought down from the high that I felt. The grass looked greener and the sky looked bluer. Prolonged heroin use leads us to this state of being.

What are the Signs of a Heroin Addiction?

Sometimes people are unaware of the signs to look for in other people who may be struggling with a heroin addiction. There are many physical and psychological changes that you may notice a person abusing heroin. These include:

  • Flushed skin
  • Nasea
  • Falling asleep at inappropriate times and places
  • Lack of interest in activities, like school and work
  • Increased lying and secretiveness
  • Poor hygiene
  • Trying to hide body parts
  • Refusing to eat at all
  • Injection marks on the skin

What Are Some Side Effects Of Heroin?

The are many side effects of heroin use that keep heroin addicts using. When the body is not under the influence of the drug, the side effects worsen on an even greater scale. The body begins to go into withdrawal just hours after last use, keeping addicts coming back for more and more.

Here are some short-term effects of heroin abuse:

  • Decreased heart rate
  • Slowed breathing
  • Itchy skin
  • Confusion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cold sweats
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting

What are the Long-Term Effects of Heroin Addiction?

Over time, continuous heroin abuse results in a decreased number of opioid receptors in the brain, which can lead to more serious issues and even death. After repeated use, our brain becomes custom to being under the influence of heroin and our tolerance decreases. Soon it takes more heroin to feel the same amount of pleasure as before. We feel as though must increase our dosage to experience any form of a high. This is what people often call “chasing the dragon.” It is trying to experience the high that we once had and being unable to achieve it. Your brain’s chemistry quite literally changes and you are unable to achieve the same effects with the same dose. Dr. Steven Dewey, a prominent addictions specialist, calls heroin addiction an organic brain disease. Dr. Dewey explains, “I’ve never seen a drug explode on the scene as much as opiates have.”

Here are some long-term effects of heroin abuse:

  • Hepatitis and HIV caused by use of unhygienic injections (i.e. dirty needles)
  • Pulmonary Edema (fluid in the lungs)
  • Decreased bowel motility
  • Muscle weakness
  • Impaired immune system
  • Poor dental health
  • Decreased sexual function
  • Open wounds, scabs and scars
  • Coma
  • Dealth

At the end of my heroin addiction in 2010, I could not get high and had to use to not feel extremely sick. This is a very dark place to arrive at, but it is darkest before the dawn!

heroin-addiction-signs

What Keeps Heroin Addicts Using?

A while into abusing opiates, us addicts experience withdrawal when our body is not flooded with dopamine and the chemicals are leaving our bodies. These withdrawal symptoms can be painful and unpleasant which is why so many addicts continue to use. They want to avoid what they know will come when the heroin runs out. As difficult as it may be, a safe, effective, medical detox is necessary to move forward with a healthy, happy and sober life.

Some symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Extreme cravings
  • Depression
  • Body aches
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Sweats
  • Racing heart
  • Hypertension
  • Fevers
  • & More…

I’ve been there and I needed help to get sober. I would not have made it if it wasn’t for the group of people and support system that guided me through my early recovery.

There is a way out. At Pathfinders Recovery Center, you will meet the owners including myself on the first day of arrival, and throughout your stay you will receive the individual time and attention you deserve. Please call or message us if you or a loved one is struggling. Addiction is literally a matter of life and death. We are here 24 hours a day to help.