Heroin is an illicitly manufactured opioid drug and incredibly addictive. The repeated use of heroin alters the brain and its ability to produce pleasurable sensations on its own, which only reinforces the desire to return to heroin time after time. This is one of the main reasons why it is so difficult to quit using heroin. Landmark Recovery of Knoxville’s heroin detox center offers the help and support you need to overcome your addiction.
Heroin binds to opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain and body, blocking pain signals and releasing large amounts of dopamine to produce feelings of euphoria. 1 At the same time, heroin causes the heart and breathing to slow, which can lead to a coma or hypoxia, resulting in brain damage or death. 2
In addition to the immediate effects of heroin on the body, such as the dry mouth and a feeling of heaviness in the extremities, heroin influences the brain and nervous system. Like other opioids, heroin changes the neurochemical activity in the brain stem, alters activity in the limbic system where emotions are regulated, and also blocks pain messages transmitted through the spinal cord. 3 Ultimately, repeated heroin use changes the physical structure and physiology of the brain, resulting in long-term imbalances in neuronal and hormonal systems that are difficult to reverse. 4
The physical dependence that results from repeated use of heroin also creates a vicious addiction cycle. This explains why heroin usage has increased the risks of chronic health side effects, or even death. From 2002 to 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculated a fivefold increase in heroin overdose deaths. 5 Drug overdoses involving any opioid, including synthetic opioids like heroin, rose nationwide through 2017 as well, illustrating heroin’s continued contributions to the growing opioid epidemic in the United States. 6 In Tennessee, specifically, heroin was among the top five most common drugs identified in drug-related deaths in 2019. 7
Individuals who are addicted to heroin undergo withdrawal symptoms the longer they abstain from the drug, which makes detoxing from the drug severely uncomfortable. Although the intensity and duration of withdrawal varies from person to person depending on the length of time they have used heroin and the dosage, typical withdrawal symptoms occur within 8 to 12 hours after their last dose and can include: 8
For this reason, it is best that an individual receive heroin detoxification (or detox) at a medically supervised detox center where FDA-approved, medication-assisted treatment can be used.
There are several medicines that can be used to treat heroin addiction. One of the most well-known is methadone, an opioid drug that weakly binds to the same opioid receptors in the brain as heroin. Methadone produces similar effects to heroin without the associated high, helping to alleviate cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms so that the individual can focus on therapy. Eventually, the long-term goal will be to gradually wean off methadone over time. Other FDA-approved drugs for opioid addiction include naltrexone, buprenorphine, suboxone, and lofexidine. 9
When considering different options for heroin treatment, Knoxville metro, Tennessee, and surrounding area residents have access to a heroin addiction treatment center that offers medically supervised detoxification services.
At Landmark Recovery of Knoxville, we provide our patients with the opportunity to undergo heroin detox in a safe and secure environment under the care of trained clinical specialists. Our team of trained professionals will provide around-the-clock care and take the necessary measures to keep patients comfortable and pain-free, including the administration of medications to treat the harshest effects of withdrawal symptoms. Patients will be closely monitored throughout the entire detox process and any potential complications, which can become life-threatening if not properly treated. 10
Then, following heroin detox, patients transition into an evidence-based heroin treatment program that will equip them with coping skills for stressful life events in place of needing to get high. Our individualized treatment program also will be tailored to patients’ specific needs, featuring individual and group counseling and various behavioral therapies in order to learn new habits and healthy behaviors that can prevent relapse. Some of the proven behavioral therapies used for treating heroin addiction include cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, contingency management, and other reinforcement and incentive-based strategies. 11
Landmark Recovery of Knoxville is ready to safely assist you or your loved one through the heroin detoxification process on the journey to recovery. Detoxification alone is not a treatment for heroin addiction, but it is the critical first step to wellness when coupled with the science-backed, evidence-based treatments we offer. Please call us today at 865-448-5174 so we can provide you with more information and discuss which of our heroin treatment programs in Knoxville can best meet your needs.
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1) National Institute on Drug Abuse (2018). Heroin Drug Facts.https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin
2) National Library of Medicine (2018). Cerebral hypoxia.https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001435.htm
3) National Institute on Drug Abuse (2021). What are the immediate (short-term) effects of heroin use?https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-immediate-short-term-effects-heroin-use
4) National Institute on Drug Abuse (2021). What are the long-term effects of heroin use?https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-long-term-effects-heroin-use
5) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Number and age-adjusted rates of drug-poisoning deaths involving opioid analgesics and heroin: United States, 2000-2014.https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-long-term-effects-heroin-use
6) National Institute on Drug Abuse (2021). Overdose Death Rates.https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates
7) Knox County Regional Forensic Center (2019). Drug Related Death Statistics Knox and Anderson counties, Tennessee.https://www.knoxcounty.org/rfc/pdfs/KCRFC_DRD_Report_2019.pdf
8) American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition: DSM-5.https://www.aoaam.org/resources/Documents/Clinical Tools/DSM-V Criteria for opioid use disorder .pdf
9) U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2018). FDA approves the first non-opioid treatment for management of opioid withdrawal symptoms in adults.https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-non-opioid-treatment-management-opioid-withdrawal-symptoms-adults
10) Darke S, Larney S, Farrell M. Yes, people can die from opiate withdrawal. Addiction. 2017;112(2):199-200.https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/add.13512
11) National Institute on Drug Abuse (2020). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: Contingency Management Interventions/Motivational Incentives (Alcohol, Stimulants, Opioids, Marijuana, Nicotine).https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment/behavioral-therapies/contingency-management-interventions-motivational-incentives