Heroin As A Wonder Drug
Although diacetylmorphine was not prescribed as a medicine much before 1900 its preparation had already been reported in 1874 by C. R. Wright at St. Mary’s Hospital in London. The main purpose of his work was to determine the constitution of some natural and purified alkaloids. By boiling anhydrous morphine alkaloid for several hours with acetic anhydride he was able to isolate acetylated morphine derivatives. The general conception of the morphine molecule in those days was that it was represented by the double empirical formula which gave rise to the rather confusing nomenclature in his article. The extreme acetylated derivative which he obtained, he called ” Tetra acetyl morphine.” This compound corresponds to diacetylmorphine according to our present nomenclature.
From a medical point of view the interest in this new morphine derivative was not very high for the first twenty years. In 1890, a German scientist, W. Dankwortt, prepared diacetylmorphine by heating anhydrous morphine with excess acetylchloride. The result of his work is important, not from the pharmacological, but from the chemical point of view. Because of the nature of the compounds he was able to isolate, he concluded that the morphine molecule had a simple empirical formula rather than the double one.
The new compound was marketed by Bayer under the name “Heroin.” Later this name became a synonym for the drug.
What The First Heroin High Feels Like
Madeleine Ludwig began using heroin shortly after graduating high school. She was addicted to the drug for two years before recovering with the help of Suboxone and group counseling.
I would feel a distinct heaviness throughout my body that was similar to when a person is extremely tired after a long day, Ludwig told DrugRehab.com. That heaviness resembled a fatigue in which it was difficult to keep my eyes open. It was a comfort with whatever was going on around me: a blissful oblivion, even to incredibly dangerous situations.
The blissful oblivion caused by heroin is often referred to as nodding. Heroin users who are nodding are somewhere between sleep and consciousness. Theyre vulnerable to dangerous situations and are at an increased risk for getting into accidents.
The physical effects arent all positive, either. People who use heroin for the first time often vomit and feel disoriented. Heroin also causes itchiness and flushing of the skin.
Living With Opioid Addiction
The first step toward recovery is recognizing that you have a problem with opioids. If you think you are addicted to them, know that there is help for you. The first step in breaking addiction is realizing that you control your own behavior.
The following steps will help you fight your addiction:
- Commit to quitting. Take control of your behavior and commit to fighting your addictions.
- Get help from your doctor. They can be your biggest ally, even if youre trying to quit a drug they prescribed. Your doctor may be able to prescribe medicine that will help ease your cravings for the addictive drug. Talking with your doctor or a counselor about your problems and your drug use can be helpful, too.
- Get support. Certain organizations are dedicated to helping people who have addictions. They want you to succeed and will give you the tools and support you need to quit and move on with your life. Ask your family and friends for support, too.
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How To Get Treatment For Heroin
Heroin is an opiate drug . Other opioids include codeine, opium and morphine.
If you need treatment for addiction to heroin or another opioid you can either see a GP or contact your local drug treatment service.
At your first appointment the doctor or drugs worker will ask you lots of questions including:
- how much heroin you take
- whether you’re using any other drugs or alcohol
- what your physical and mental health are like
- what your personal circumstances are for example, where you live and who you’re living with
- whether you’ve had treatment for drugs before
They’ll also ask you for a pee sample. This will be tested to confirm that you’re using heroin.
You’ll be given a key worker who will help you put together a personalised treatment plan. You’ll meet them regularly throughout your treatment.
Who Can And Cannot Take Methadone
Adults can take methadone for drug addiction.
It can also be given to newborn babies in hospital, to help with heroin or methadone withdrawal symptoms.
Methadone may not be suitable for some people. Tell your doctor before starting methadone treatment if you:
- have had an allergic reaction to methadone or any other medicines in the past
- have a lung problem or breathing difficulties
- are addicted to alcohol, or other drugs that are not opioid
- have a head injury or get bad headaches
- have heart rhythm problems or low blood pressure
- have problems with your thyroid, adrenal glands, kidneys or liver
- have myasthenia gravis
- are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding
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Who Is Most Likely To Visit A Methadone Clinic
There are many methadone clinics throughout the United States. SAMHSAs 2011 OTP Survey found nearly 245,000 people were admitted into opiate treatment programs in 2010. More than half of those admitted required maintenance and detoxification services. About 22 percent were individuals seeking only maintenance treatment.Methadone was the primary medication given to those in treatment the survey reported nearly 270,000 people receiving methadone in March 2011.
Anyone who is addicted to opiates may visit a methadone clinic under a doctors supervision. More than half who do are male, although a significant percentage of visits are by female clients as well.
SAMHSAs 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that 435,000 people used heroin, accounting for those aged 12 and up. People in the 18-25 age range were most likely to abuse heroin, although the study reflected an increase in use by adults 26 and older.About 2.9 million adults 26 years and older were using pain relief drugs for nonmedical use, according to the study. In the 2011 edition of the study, just over 11 percent of people overall who abused drugs or alcohol received the medical treatment they needed.
What Are The Risks Of Heroin Addiction
Individuals who use heroin for a prolonged period are at risk of many long-term effects on their physical appearance and health, including bad teeth and skin, a weakened immune system, an increased risk of miscarriage, and some chemical and structural changes in the brain, many of which can be permanent.
Between 2010 and 2015, heroin overdose deaths more than tripled in the United States. Current overdose rates continue to skyrocket, due to heroin being laced with fentanyl. The tolerance created by ongoing heroin use can lead the user to take dangerously high doses of the drug, which can cause overdose, brain and organ damage, coma, and death.
There are some long-term effects of heroin addiction that occur when heroin is used intravenously, such as:
- High risk of contracting blood-borne diseases such as Hepatitis C or HIV due to sharing needles
- Collapsed veins
- Infection that leads to loss of a limb
- Infections of the blood vessels and heart valves
The following complications are possible with heroin use:
- Breathing stomach contents into the lungs which can cause infection, choking or death
- Vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration and imbalanced chemical makeup
- Depression which can lead to suicidal thoughts
- Overdose which can lead to death
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Different Treatment Approaches For Heroin Addiction
Both approaches to treatment, behavioral and pharmacological, can be effective individually, but research has shown that integrating both types of treatment is most effective for some heroin users.
Comprehensive treatment programs are considered effective if they not only help the addict become abstinent, but depending on the individual, also restore a degree of “normalcy” in brain function and behavior, increase employment rates, lower the risk of HIV and other diseases, and reduce criminal behavior.
What To Do In A Heroin Overdose
Contact emergency personnel immediately. Heroin overdose is a medical emergency that requires treatment with naloxone. Call 911 for an emergency transport in the US and Canada.
Signs of an opioid overdose include extreme drowsiness, blue lips and fingernails, slow or halted breathing, pinpoint pupils, slow heart rate, coma, death.
Occurring more frequently in the U.S., heroin purchased on the street may be “cut” or contaminated with other dangerous and extremely potent opioids, such as fentanyl or carfentanyl. These agents are often fatal to the user, and deaths have been reported.
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For use in the community, naloxone comes as a nasal spray . If naloxone is available, you can administer it yourself to someone who is overdosing. You should still call 911.
In many pharmacies you can now access naloxone without a prescription to keep with you, at home or in your car in case of an overdose emergency. This is recommended especially if you have friends or family members using opioids or undergoing treatment. Ask your pharmacist about access to naloxone in your state. Read the directions on administering the naloxone before an emergency occurs.
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International Control Of Heroin
The Hague Opium Convention of 1912 placed heroin in the same category as morphine and cocaine. The Convention imposed an obligation on the Contracting Parties to “use their best endeavours” to limit the manufacture, sale and use of the drugs exclusively to medical and legitimate purposes. A control was to be instituted over all persons manufacturing, importing, selling, distributing and exporting the drug and its salts. Registers of the amounts manufactured, imported, and exported were to be kept. Furthermore, dealings with unauthorized persons in the international trade of these drugs were forbidden. All preparations containing more than 0.1% heroin were also to be controlled. There was however no indication how the control over production and distribution should be implemented. Every country was allowed to decide for itself the best method. By the time of the outbreak of the first World War, only eleven countries had ratified the Convention, although seven others had notified their willingness to do so. The peace treaties after the end of the war, however, automatically brought the Hague Convention into force between the parties to the treaties.
The main defect of the Hague Convention was that it created no administrative machinery for the implementation of the principles agreed on.
The quantity necessary for the purpose of conversion, whether for domestic consumption or for export.
The amount of the reserve stocks which it is desired to maintain.
Detox Is The First Step To Recovery
In the context of recovery from drug addiction, a formal detox period is the first stage of recovery that prepares your body and mind to more fully engage and succeed in the rest of the rehabilitation process.
Detox itself does not always entail thorough treatment efforts. In many cases, after completion of the detox portion, addiction recovery programs will continue their treatment efforts by having you then go through a combination of group and individual therapy. These therapeutic approaches help address the need for social support and begin to instill the cognitive-behavioral changes needed to avert future drug temptations.
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Drug Withdrawal And Detox
During the initial stages of recovery, the body must rid itself of drugs. This is called the detox period. Detox can last several days to several weeks depending on the drug. Coping with withdrawal symptoms is often the most challenging part of detox. During detox, former drug users experience many uncomfortable symptoms. Some of these may include:
- Muscle aches
Different medications are used to treat different withdrawal symptoms. Some of the drugs that physicians prescribe in detox include:
These drugs reduce anxiety and irritability. Anxiety is a common symptom of withdrawal from many drugs, including Cocaine and Opiates like Heroin. Benzos have a sedative effect, which helps ease alcohol withdrawals. Doctors are cautious about prescribing Benzos because they are addictive.
Without drugs, an addicted person cannot produce natural amounts of happiness-inducing chemicals in their brain. Because theyve relied on drugs to keep them happy for so long, people in detox often experience depression. Antidepressants like Zoloft and Prozac can help relieve these feelings until the brain is able to produce happiness-inducing chemicals on its own again.
Used to treat alcohol and Opiate withdrawals, Clonidine reduces sweating, cramps, muscle aches and anxiety. Clonidine can also stop tremors and seizures.
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How Are Medications And Devices Used In Drug Addiction Treatment
Medications and devices can be used to manage withdrawal symptoms, prevent relapse, and treat co-occurring conditions.
Withdrawal. Medications and devices can help suppress withdrawal symptoms during detoxification. Detoxification is not in itself “treatment,” but only the first step in the process. Patients who do not receive any further treatment after detoxification usually resume their drug use. One study of treatment facilities found that medications were used in almost 80 percent of detoxifications . In November 2017, the Food and Drug Administration granted a new indication to an electronic stimulation device, NSS-2 Bridge, for use in helping reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms. This device is placed behind the ear and sends electrical pulses to stimulate certain brain nerves. Also, in May 2018, the FDA approved lofexidine, a non-opioid medicine designed to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Relapse prevention. Patients can use medications to help re-establish normal brain function and decrease cravings. Medications are available for treatment of opioid , tobacco , and alcohol addiction. Scientists are developing other medications to treat stimulant and cannabis addiction. People who use more than one drug, which is very common, need treatment for all of the substances they use.
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Heroin Effects On The Brain
If youre wondering what heroin does to the brain, its important to understand that heroin disrupts signals from the brain to the body, affecting normal bodily functions such as breathing and heart rate. These functions are part of the autonomic nervous system, and heroin abuse can cause autonomic neuropathy or damage to these nerves.
Once the initial euphoric rush from heroin wears off, you may experience a period of drowsiness that can last for hours at a time. Confusion, a slowed and irregular heart rate and suppressed breathing all signs of autonomic neuropathy accompany the drowsiness. In severe cases of heroin use, the respiratory system can completely shut down. You may fall asleep and never wake up because autonomic neuropathy can cause you to stop breathing. In addition, suppressed breathing can limit the amount of blood and oxygen traveling to the brain, resulting in permanent brain damage, coma or death.
One of the most detrimental long-term effects of heroin use on the brain is the development of a heroin use disorder, which is a chronic brain disease. With repeated heroin use, your body can become dependent on this opioid and you can develop a substance use disorder. If you become addicted to heroin, you may experience compulsive, uncontrollable drug-seeking behaviors and may need heroin addiction treatment.
Coping With Withdrawal During Incarceration
Some people who experience withdrawal while incarcerated seek treatment for their symptoms, though this does not necessarily mean that they report to the medical staff that their symptoms are related to withdrawal. As stated earlier, in order to receive pharmacotherapy more than one participant reported misattributing withdrawal symptoms to other physical and psychological conditions or even intentionally injuring themselves. A male in-treatment participant said that he falsely told the jail medical staff that he was hearing voices so that he could get something to help him sleep and alleviate his withdrawal symptoms, but that he ended up with more problems than he started with.
I told the psych doctor that I was hearing voices and shit so I could get something to help me sleep. I was prescribed Thorazine, which did the job but they forgot to, they for – -youre supposed to take, with Thorazine youre supposed to take Cogentin with it and that counteracts the side effects. Whew, that stuff had me hallucinating and tripping hard.
Another in-treatment male participant mentioned a different sort of negative experience when he complained of suicidal ideation in order to obtain treatment for his withdrawal.
Oh yeah. Its something in here now, shooters and all. Its here.
Yes, very available I mean, it was available but it cost you. You know?
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The Relapse Rate For All Substance Abuse Disorders Ranges From 40 To 60% But The Rate For Heroin Specifically Is As High As 90% Or Even Greater
Megan Hull is a content specialist who edits, writes and ideates content to help people find recovery. As a Florida born-and-raised… read more
Wendy J. Weber is a pharmacist with almost 20 years of experience in acute care clinical practice, hospital… read more
There is no doubt that heroin addiction is difficult to treat. Its one of the most difficult addictions to recover from, but it is possible. Its important that people struggling with this addiction know why people who are addicted to heroin.
Withdrawing From Loved Ones
A heroin addict is a shell of the person they once were. This is what the drug does to people. If you notice that a family member has completely withdrawn from you, its possible they are using heroin. Heroin is the only thing that an addict thinks or cares about. The person in your life that is a heroin addict wont want to be near you and will avoid making eye contact. It will be hard to get through to them if you want to help them get addiction treatment.
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