Heroin & The Mu Receptor
Whether the source of the opioid is heroin, a prescription opioid pain-killing tablet like OxyContin®, or our own natural endorphins, they all do the same thing. They bind to these opioid receptors, and block any neurotransmitters from activating the nerve cells, which in turn stops any electrical pulses from these cells delivering the message to our brain.
To do this, opioids bind to any of 3 major receptors in the brain, called Mu, Kappa and Delta . However, its the Mu receptor that is responsible for the major effects of all opiates.
How Is Opioid Abuse Disorder Treated
An opioid abuse disorder can be treated through psychological counseling and medically-assisted therapies. Counseling involves shifting the persons unhealthy behaviors regarding opioid misuse and changing the way they think about opioid use. Medication assisted treatment compliments counseling. Three medications typically come up when discussing medication assisted treatment. Methadone, buprenorphine/naloxone and naltrexone can be used to help lessen symptoms of withdrawal and cravings.
Treatment through medications alone is typically not enough. Behavioral and psychological counseling are usually integrated into the therapy.
The Dramatic & Extensive Damage Caused By Heroin
Whether heroin use begins as a recreational experiment or an extension of an opioid use disorder that began with abusing prescription opioid medications, the end result remains the same if the use becomes long-term dramatic and extensive damage caused to both the users physical and mental health.
Read Also: How To Stop Pron Addiction
Signs Of Heroin Addiction
It isnt always clear exactly when addiction sets in, but here are some signs to watch for:
- You crave heroin and show signs of withdrawal if you dont use.
- You continue to use despite negative consequences.
- You find that you cant limit or control your use.
- You find yourself lying about your use.
- Its costing you excessive amounts of money.
- You find yourself often thinking about heroin.
- Your relationships with family and friends suffer.
Facts And Myths About Opioid Pain Medications
Determining what is true or not true about opioid pain medications can be tough. You may hear or read information that might be confusing when trying to decide the best way to treat your chronic pain.
1. Myth: The more you take the better they work.Fact: More does not equal better. Over time, people build up a tolerance to pain medicine. Taking too much pain medicine can cause tolerance to happen quicker and your chronic pain may actually get worse.
2. Myth: If you take opioid pain medications for a valid reason, you can’t get addicted. Fact: Opioid pain medications have a highly addictive nature. Anyone can be at risk of developing an addiction to these medications, especially if they are taken for a long period of time. To avoid increasing the risk of becoming addicted to these types of medications, it is important to use them only as prescribed.
3. Myth: Everyone who takes opioids will get addicted.Fact: It depends largely on your own personal risk of addiction. Thats why your doctor may ask questions about your risk factors: a family history of addiction, a personal history of alcohol and drug abuse, or certain psychiatric disorders.
Read Also: How Do You Stop Drug Addiction
How Are Medicines Used To Treat Opioid Addiction
Methadone, when administered properly, is included in treatment with counseling and is always provided in a clinic setting. It helps to block the effects of opioids and to reduce cravings.
The medicine buprenorphine also helps opioid cravings without giving the same high as other opioid drugs. Prescribed by many physicians, this is typically a daily dose placed under the tongue and can also be delivered as a once-a-month injection or through thin tubes placed under the skin every six months.
These medicines both activate opioid receptors in the body that suppress cravings, and are effective and similar in safety and side effects and typically used for maintenance treatment. They can be used as a taper agent as well but some patients relapse, and we need to try something different with those patients who relapse several times. Patients who are highly motivated and have good social support have a tendency to do better.
Treatment For Opiate Addiction
There are many treatment options to choose from, but research suggests the most effective form of treatment for Opiate addiction is inpatient detox followed by inpatient rehab. Inpatient rehab centers have specialized programs for individuals suffering from this type of substance use disorder. These programs help patients dig deep within themselves to uncover the root cause of their drug use. Knowing what caused patients to use drugs or alcohol in the first place will help prevent future triggers while in recovery.
Many individuals quickly find that the rewards of progressing through a treatment program far outweigh the high they formerly gained from drug use.
Featured Centers Offering Opiate Addiction Treatment
Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelors and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffreys desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffreys mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.
Recommended Reading: How To Stop Food Addiction Once And For All
The Relapsing Mental Disease Can Overtake Users In A Number Of Ways
Opiates are so powerful that caution must be taken when you use this type of drug. You must also watch out for the warning signs of a drug dependency and an addiction.
You may be addicted to opiates if you have reached a point that even willpower is not enough to stop or even just reduce your use of opiates. You may find that you are unable to control your need to take in high levels of opiates with increasing frequency. You may also be compelled to prioritize finding and using opiates more than anything in your life.
As such, other more important things like your work and your relationships no longer take center stage. The longer you use or abuse opiates, the more inevitable an addiction becomes.
How Do People Misuse Prescription Opioids
Prescription opioids used for pain relief are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor, but they can be misused. People misuse prescription opioids by:
- taking the medicine in a way or dose other than prescribed
- taking someone else’s prescription medicine
- taking the medicine for the effect it causes-to get high
When misusing a prescription opioid, a person can swallow the medicine in its normal form. Sometimes people crush pills or open capsules, dissolve the powder in water, and inject the liquid into a vein. Some also snort the powder.
Don’t Miss: How Long Does It Take To Overcome An Addiction
Addiction And The Brain
You are at the mercy of your brain. It plays a significant role in your dependence to a substance.
The first time someone uses a drug, he or she may begin to feel its effects immediately. For example, when someone consumes ecstasy, they experience a burst of euphoria. When they take a painkiller such as oxycodone, they may feel extreme relaxation and reduced anxiety. Your brain reacts differently to each drug, and each drug affects certain areas of the brain.
Addiction can be expedited if the substance is injected intravenously, snorted, used in large amounts or taken in high frequencies. The more you take, or the heavier the dosage, the higher your tolerance becomes over time. This causes the pleasure to weaken and the cravings to heighten. Oftentimes, this result leads to a substance use disorder.
How Do Opioids Affect The Brain
When you take an opioid, you could feel a variety of effects, including drowsiness, relaxation, and slowed breathing.1 Many people also experience a rush of pleasure, also referred to as euphoria, that they find intensely rewarding.1
Opioids attach to the opioid receptors in various parts of the brain, leading to pain relief and feelings of pleasure.2 Dopamine, a chemical in the brain, is released in increased levels when the reward circuits in the brain are stimulated by opioids. This release of dopamine is associated with producing pleasure, leading to repeated drug use.1 Dopamine helps to reinforce pleasurable activities, such as exercising, engaging in a fun hobby, and spending time with friends and loved ones. So, in a sense, when dopamine is released as a result of an opioid, the drug tells the brain to continue behaving in the same way, which is a contributing factor to what makes opioids addictive.1
You May Like: How To Get Rid Of Gaming Addiction
What Is Samhsa’s National Helpline
SAMHSAs National Helpline, , or TTY: is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.
Also visit the online treatment locator.
How Can Recover From Heroin Addiction
Anyone who is addicted to heroin should consider entering a program of professional addiction treatment.
They should not attempt to stop using heroin on their own , because of the severity of withdrawal symptoms, which normally results in the user using heroin again to stop the withdrawal.
Professional treatment involves both a medically-supervised detox and a period of addiction rehabilitation .
This combination addresses both the physical withdrawal symptoms as well as their psychological addiction to the drug.
Heroin addiction is extremely hard to overcome, but it is definitely possible with the right support and treatment.
Don’t Miss: What Are The 4 Stages Of Addiction
How Long Does It Take To Get Addicted To Opiates
The beginnings of an opiate addiction are actually triggered by that initial rush of pleasure you get from the drug. On the other hand, the point wherein regular misuse or abuse of opiates transitions into compulsive drug use and cravings for the drug vary with each user and is dependent on a number of aspects.
Once you begin to use opiates, it may take several weeks to a few months before cravings start to appear. Along with the cravings are other drug-seeking behaviors that are most of the time associated with bad acts. There is yet to be a reliable source written on the exact timeline these manifestations show themselves.
The Physical & Mental Effects Of Heroin Use & Addiction
Clearly, the most obvious effect of heroin use is the addictive, euphoric high experienced by users however, it is not the only rapid and short-term effect of the drug. Other common effects of heroin use include:
- Dry mouth
- Warm flushing of the skin
- Heavy feeling in the limbs
- Nausea and vomiting
HIV & Hepatitis C
Heroin users who inject the drug are also at a high risk of contracting HIV and the hepatitis C virus.
Both diseases are transmitted through contact with blood or other bodily fluids, which can happen when users share needles or other injection drug use equipment.
HCV is actually the most common bloodborne infection in the U.S. HIV, and to a lesser extent HCV, can also both be transmitted through unprotected sex, which is more likely with drug use.
Lastly, heroin often contains additives, such as sugar, starch, or powdered milk, that can clog the users blood vessels, and lead to damage within the lungs, liver, and kidneys. There is also the risk of permanent brain damage.
Heroin took my dreams, and everything else I had. Within weeks of my first fix, I had gone from the person I could have been to being a total stranger unrecognizable to myself. I told lies. I stole. I would do anything for a fix. Often, my junk addiction meant I did. Jonathan*: Heroin addict, aged 24, Arizona Department of Corrections, Tucson, AZ *name changed
Don’t Miss: How Long Does It Take To Stop Nicotine Addiction
What Do We Know About The Opioid Crisis
- Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.6
- Between 8 and 12 percent of people using an opioid for chronic pain develop an opioid use disorder.6
- An estimated 4 to 6 percent who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin.79
- About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.7
- Update: Among 38 states with prescription opioid overdose death data, 17 states saw a decline between 2017-2018 none experienced a significant increase.11
- Likelihood of developing an opioid use disorder depends on many factors, including length of time a person is prescribed to take opioids for acute pain, and length of time that people continue taking opioids .
Ways To Detox From Opiates
One way to detox from opiates is to treat the symptoms with medication.
Detoxing from opiates is a difficult process. This process is accomplished by allowing the drug to leave the system and the addict to recovery from the addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the basic methods to detox from opiates are varied. A few of these methods are:
- with replacement medication medications such as methadone and Suboxone divert or prevent the withdrawal symptoms for an extended period of time while also treating pain. These drugs sometimes have less potential for abuse and can help someone detox by allowing them to taper off the addictive medication.
Any of these may be accomplished in inpatient, outpatient, and home settings. During detox it is important to remember that the detox itself cannot kill you.
Recommended Reading: How To Stop Oxycodone Addiction
Behavior And Opioid Development
A persons behavior is often involved in whether or not they will experience opioid dependence. In many cases, dependence develops from long-term chronic use that has nothing to do with detrimental behavior, but in others, the individuals behavior will lead them to opioid dependence.
- Abusing higher doses of the drug to counteract tolerance
- A person becomes tolerant to opioids after taking them regularly for a long time. According to the NIDA, tolerance is when it takes a higher dose of the drug to achieve the same level of response achieved initially. Many individuals will then take more of the drug, abusing it, in order to feel those effects and putting themselves in danger of experiencing opioid dependence.
S To Prevent Addiction
Opioids are safest when used for three or fewer days to manage acute pain, such as pain that follows surgery or a bone fracture. If you need opioids for acute pain, work with your doctor to take the lowest dose possible, for the shortest time needed, exactly as prescribed.
If youre living with chronic pain, opioids are not likely to be a safe and effective long-term treatment option. Many other treatments are available, including less-addictive pain medications and nonpharmacological therapies. Aim for a treatment plan that makes it possible to enjoy your life without opioids, if possible.
The most important step you can take to prevent opioid addiction? Recognize that no one is safe, and we all play a role in tackling the grip these drugs currently hold on our loved ones and communities.
Read Also: How To Fight Drug Addiction
Can I Avoid Side Effects And Risks
Drug Misuse: The use of prescription drugs without a prescription, or in a different way than prescribed.
Opioid Use Disorder : sometimes referred to as opioid abuse or dependence, or opioid addiction. OUD is a problematic pattern of opioid use that causes significant impairments at work, school, or home, among other criteria or distress, such as unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control use, social problems, and a failure to fulfill obligations.
No. Opioids pose a risk to all patients. Anyone taking prescription opioids is at risk for unintentional overdose or death and can become addicted. From 1999 to 2017, more than 218,000 people died from overdose related to prescription opioids in the United States.1 Up to 1 out of 4 people receiving long-term opioid therapy in a primary care setting struggles with opioid use disorder.2,3,4
In addition to the serious risks of opioid use disorder and overdose, the use of prescription opioids can have a number of side effects, even when taken as directed. Review these with your doctor, so you know what you may expect:
- Toleranceneeding to take more of the medication over time for the same pain relief
- Physical dependenceexperiencing symptoms of withdrawal when the medication is stopped
- Increased sensitivity to pain
- Other sedatives
- Other opioids
What Is Naloxone And How Can It Help With An Overdose
Available as an injection or nasal spray, naloxone is a lifesaving medication that can rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. If you happen to have naloxone when responding to an overdose, call 911 and administer the medication according to the package instructions.
Access to naloxone is expanding on a state-by-state basis. It can be prescribed by a physician, is often carried by police officers and emergency medical responders, and is increasingly available over the counter at some pharmacies.
Read Also: Do Drug Addicts Cheat On Their Spouse