Skin Abscess from Injecting Heroin

The Dangers of Skin Abscess from Injecting Heroin

The highly addictive, semi-synthetic opioid made from morphine, a substance taken from opium poppy plants that produces intense feelings of euphoria has exploded along with the opioid epidemic in the USA. As prescribed opioids by doctors and prescribers become harder to get, newly formed addicts turn to the street drug known as “heroin” for their latest fix. Mostly in urban centers, drug use has skyrocketed, but also in many major cities and states across the country. Homelessness and abject poverty have created swaths of hardship, disease, and drug laden tent cities where drug use takes center stage. These dens of inequity are breeding grounds for health hazards and complications from intravenous drug use. Along with the increase in drug overdoses and death, another health hazard often develops within user groups, which is a skin abscess from injecting heroin. These skin abscesses themselves can be quite dangerous and lead to further health consequences. That is why it is important to understand what they are and what complications can arise from them.

What is a Skin Abscess?

Usually, a skin abscess is a tender mass surrounded by pink and red flesh, sometimes referred to as a “boil.” This bump is usually bloated with pus or translucent fluid, which is often a sign of an infection. They are usually very painful and warm to the touch and can show up anywhere on your body. An abscess can form when the skin barrier is broken via minor traumas, cuts, or inflammation. Your body’s immune defenses involve an inflammatory response that sends millions of white blood cells to the infected area. The middle of the abscess will then liquefy, containing the dead cells, bacteria, and other scattered waste and remains. Unlike most infections, antibiotics alone will not cure an abscess. These complications may need intervention depending on the severity of the infection and tissue damage. That is why it is important to seek attention as soon as possible.

How Skin Abscess from Injecting Heroin Form

Once a drug user becomes a full blown addict, the fix becomes paramount while all other considerations fall to the wayside. Often times, an addict will find themselves using needles in unsanitary conditions with “dirty” syringes that may be contaminated by other user’s blood, but also by bacterial growth. Each individual, as well as the environment, is covered in microscopic bacterium that may colonize damaged areas of the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis during intravenous drug use. These colonies may jump from needle to user quite effectively without the proper sanitation that can now be found in fix rooms in some major cities. Contaminated needles deliver the bacteria past the skin barrier into the blood stream and also into these soft tissues. Multiple punctures in the same area may worsen the wound and will, in turn, be more likely to be infected during the heroin injections. Forming a skin abscess from injecting heroin becomes common during the constant urge to get another fix. Multiple boils may form as the addict searches for new injection points that aren’t collecting fluid and swelling with pain, redness, and warmth.

Complications from Skin Abscess from Injecting Heroin

Without treatment, many dangerous complications can arise from these skin abscesses. If the infection spreads, it has the potential to cross the blood-brain barrier. The key structure of the blood-brain barrier is the “endothelial tight junction.” Endothelial cells line the blood vessels interior and form the blood-brain barrier; these cells are wedged very tightly, so much so, that only small molecules, fat-soluble molecules, and some gases can pass through. A bacterial infection, however, has the potential to bind to the endothelial wall, causing the junction to open slightly. This development means toxins and bacteria can enter and attack the brain tissue, which can mean inflammation, brain swelling, and even death.

Another complication can arise, often referred to as “blood poisoning,” which is used to describe bacteremia, septicemia, or sepsis. Sepsis is a serious and potentially fatal blood infection. These infections can occur in your abdomen, lungs, and urinary tract. Septic shock has a 50 percent mortality rate, so these complications would call for quick attention.

Endocarditis is another more specific infection that is possible from abscess complications, as it is the inflammation of the heart’s inner lining, called the endocardium. The condition is uncommon for those with healthy hearts, but a possibility for long time drug users that have abused their bodies. This condition may develop over time and may go undiagnosed as the symptoms are similar to the flu and pneumonia. Fever, chills, muscle and joint pain, nausea, heart murmur, swollen limbs or torso, and a cough are common symptoms of this infection.

Tissue death or gangrene in the area of the abscess is another concern as it usually affects your extremities, which also happen to be injection points. It can start in a hand or leg and spread throughout your entire body and cause you to suffer shock. Shock will be marked by low blood pressure or hypotension. Vital organs such as the brain may we starved of oxygen and nutrients, creating light-headedness, weakness, blurred vision, and fatigue.

Ken Seeley Communities Provides Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Ken Seeley Communities is a recovery program specializing in addiction and dual diagnosis conditions. With an expert team of recovery agents, Ken Seeley Communities guides individuals through the steps necessary to recover from heroin’s dark path, starting with processing, detox, treatment, and aftercare. Ken Seeley is known for being an interventionist that provides quality and professional care for families dealing with addiction and has the communication skills necessary to persuade individuals to enter treatment. Once entered into the treatment process, individuals will be provided evidence-based treatment solutions, as well as nutritious programs and fitness regimen to support the recovery. Sobriety is a multi-stage and multi-faceted undertaking, which is why our treatments are comprehensive and robust. For more information about the program, please contact Ken Seeley Communities today at (877) 744-0502.

effects of fentanyl laced heroin

Effects of Fentanyl-Laced Heroin

Heroin use began to surge about a decade ago, creeping into just about every nook and cranny of society. Then around 2014 there was a sudden surge in overdose deaths, initially attributed to heroin. Eventually, it became known that this spike in overdoses was due to the effects of fentanyl-laced heroin. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times more potent than morphine, and which is usually used by physicians to help manage pain in terminal cancer patients. Fentanyl and its analogs, or clones, are being manufactured illicitly in China and Mexico, then widely distributed on the streets of our country in the form of as fentanyl-laced heroin.

In 2016 alone, more than 19,000 opioid-related deaths were attributed primarily to fentanyl, according to statistics provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, showing a six-fold increase since 2010. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that overdose deaths caused by fentanyl doubled in a six-month period between the end of 2016 and the summer of 2017. According to the CDC, “The number of deaths involving heroin in combination with synthetic narcotics has been increasing steadily since 2014 and shows that the increase in deaths involving heroin is driven by the use of fentanyl.”

The CDC had issued a health advisory in 2015 regarding the dangers of fentanyl, but this was upgraded to an alert in early 2018 as deaths continued to mount. The alert included information that the powerful drug was showing up in heroin, methamphetamine, ketamine, benzodiazepines, cocaine, and counterfeit opioid pills on the street, and encouraged wide availability of the opioid antidote, naloxone, to help reverse the effects of the drug in individuals still alive. While a heroin overdose can be overturned with 1 mg of naloxone, for the individual who has overdosed on fentanyl laced heroin, a dosage of 8-10 mg of naloxone is needed, although most individuals will not survive.

Why is Fentanyl So Deadly?

Fentanyl is a powerful narcotic analgesic manufactured under such brand names as Duragesic, Abstral, Fentora, Actiq, and Subsys, and is used by physicians to control pain in patients with serious or terminal illness. The fentanyl compound is easy to be replicated and reproduced in a lab, being widely distributed as street drugs or through online websites.

The drug is so potent that it is measured in micrograms, not milligrams. Law enforcement and first responders fear having any contact with the substance, as just a few granules can produce fatal respiratory effects. Many of the overdose deaths occurring in recent years occurred in individuals who were unaware that they were ingesting fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that was first introduced in the 1960s for use as an anesthesia during surgeries. Later, fentanyl was approved for its analgesic properties for use as a prescription pain medication. Although fentanyl is in the news in recent years, it is not new. News reports from 1991 were informing the public of a spate of fentanyl laced heroin overdose deaths in Pennsylvania. Later, in 2005-2006, this deadly mixture was at the center of another outbreak of overdose deaths in various regions.

Deaths occur because the fentanyl, an opioid agonist, impacts the opioid receptors in the brain associated with controlling the respiratory system. A high dose of fentanyl can reduce the breathing rate dramatically, possibly causing breathing to stop altogether, leading to death.

The Danger of Heroin and Fentanyl Together

In many cases, it is the opioid epidemic of this past decade that has led to a significant increase in heroin addiction. This happens when the opioids become increasingly difficult to obtain, or if the cost of the prescription opioids becomes prohibitive. To avoid withdrawals, some will switch to heroin as a cheap, easily procured substitute for the opioid.

Since most heroin addicts obtain the drug from dealers on the street, they may be unaware that the heroin they purchased is cut with fentanyl—or may even be pure fentanyl. In most cases it is impossible to detect the presence of fentanyl, especially when it is cut into counterfeit opioids or cocaine, as these are also white substances. However, because heroin has a yellowish tint, if a large amount of fentanyl has been cut into the heroin it might be detected. Understanding the dangers of heroin and fentanyl can help raise awareness through the education of our youth from as early as adolescence.

Symptoms of Fentanyl Overdose

Because fentanyl impacts the central nervous system like any other opiate, the respiratory system is significantly affected. The drug is so potent that a tiny amount carries the risk of a drug overdose. The effects of fentanyl-laced heroin can lead to an overdose, which is a serious medical emergency that allows very little time for successful intervention. Signs of fentanyl overdose include:

  • Extreme grogginess, sleepiness, or fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing, slowed respiratory function
  • Contracted pupils
  • Inability to walk, loss of coordination
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Coma

A fentanyl-related overdose is a medical emergency. Death can occur rapidly, so if these symptoms are present it is necessary to obtain immediate medical help. Most first responders now carry naloxone to help reverse the effects of opiate overdoses.

Getting Help For Heroin Addiction

Individuals who are addicted to heroin or opioids must seek professional help to be able to get off these highly addictive drugs so they can avoid the accidental effects of fentanyl-laced heroin. Overcoming an opiate addiction requires specialized treatment. Without a formal addiction treatment program, the individual will not succeed long-term.

Opioid addiction recovery is possible but it is dependent on the individual completing a treatment program that uses evidence-based, or proven, treatment methods, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), as well as complementary therapies and aftercare services.

Those who decide to get treatment for a heroin addiction will progress through four steps in recovery:

  1. Intake. When the individual approaches treatment they will first be involved in an assessment and intake process. After the clinician has considered all the information, including the length of history of heroin abuse, the daily dosing, the general health status of the individual, and whether there is a coexisting mental health disorder present, they will design an individualized treatment plan. This tailored approach is important, as each person will have unique recovery needs.
  2. Detox and Withdrawal. Detoxification is the first necessary step in getting free of a heroin or opioid addiction. Without clearing the body of the drug and stabilizing, the individual would be unable to fully participate in treatment with a clear mind. The detox and withdrawal process is difficult and highly unpleasant, and not to be undertaken on one’s own. People who attempt to go it alone are not able to endure the withdrawals and will swiftly relapse back to drug use.

A medically monitored detox will provide continuous oversight while providing medical interventions that help ease the withdrawal symptoms. Psychological support is also provided, helping the client emotionally throughout the detoxification process. Medications, such as buprenorphine, methadone, or naltrexone, can be initiated once the drug has been eliminated from the system, and can help reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms and also reduce cravings. This medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can help the individual become stable in recovery by reducing the risk of relapse. MAT requires the individual to continue engaging in outpatient therapy following rehab, and the medications are strictly monitored to help prevent abuse.

  1. Active Treatment. Active treatment begins immediately following detox and involves a variety of treatment elements. Rehabs programs include individual psychotherapy, group therapy, recovery group meetings, family therapy, addiction education, relapse prevention planning, and medication management. Together these interventions can help the individual change habitual addiction-associated patterns and behaviors, while also addressing underlying factors that may be contributing to the drug abuse. In addition, the individual is coached to establish healthy lifestyle habits, such as diet and exercise, and taught relaxation techniques to help manage stress.
  2. Aftercare Therapy. Once the treatment program has been completed, it is essential to continue to participate regular outpatient counseling, both individual therapy and support groups. Attending a weekly or twice weekly therapy session can help clients over the rough spots during the first year of recovery when they are the most vulnerable to relapse. Sober living is another good aftercare option, providing a living environment that is drug and alcohol-free and where the client can learn healthy new daily routines and habits, and practice recovery skills before heading back to their regular life. Additionally, engaging in a 12-step or similar recovery group can provide an additional layer of peer support and accountability.

Although overcoming heroin dependence requires time, patience, and perseverance, it is something that can be done. A heroin addiction cannot be wished away, it must be muscled away through sheer will and a steely commitment to embrace a clean and sober lifestyle.

Ken Seeley Communities Provides Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Ken Seeley Communities is an integrated addiction recovery program in beautiful Palm Springs, California. Through an immersive approach to recovery, the expert team at Ken Seeley Communities will guide individuals through each step of the process—intake, medical detox, treatment, and aftercare. Ken Seeley is a renowned interventionist who provides these professional services for families to help persuade someone to enter treatment. In addition to the evidence-based treatment approach, the emphasis on nutrition and fitness helps reinforce recovery efforts. Embrace sobriety with the support of this comprehensive and highly effective program. For more information about the program, or about the effects of fentanyl-laced heroin, please contact Ken Seeley Communities today at (877) 744-0502.

What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Suboxone

What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine can be a lifesaver for individuals recovering from an opioid addiction or dependency. This medication helps to block the effects of opioids, allowing for a gradual reduction in cravings to return to the drug. Meanwhile, the individual has more time to adjust to a life of sobriety and solidify recovery.

Some detox medications can work very well as a short, or sometimes long-term, medication to prevent opioid or opiate relapse.  For some, however, certain detox medications can be and prone to abuse and addiction itself.

Because Buprenorphine is itself a mild opioid, the dangers of dependency can emerge with long-term use. These long-term effects were not foreseen back in 2002 when the FDA approved. Because of a long 37-hour half-life, Buprenorphine is subject to building up in the system, contributing to the risk of potential chemical dependency.

Not all Buprenorphine addiction develop as a result of being prescribed the medication for recovery assistance. Some individuals access the drug illicitly and use it as a substance of abuse. Whether the Buprenorphine was legitimately provided or used as a recreational drug, the result of addiction or dependency will require a detox and treatment to overcome. This prompts the important question, “What are the withdrawal symptoms of Buprenorphine as someone anticipates the detox and withdrawal process.

How Buprenorphine Addiction or Dependency Develops

As with any other mind-altering substance, Buprenorphine can be abused. Indeed, addiction behaviors do die hard. When someone is being treated for an opioid dependency with Buprenorphine they may become tempted to begin abusing this medication. Some may choose to inject the drug, or snort it, in an effort to experience a high. Over time, the compulsive abuse of Buprenorphine can develop into a new addiction. When the individual uses Buprenorphine for an extended period of time, their brain adapts to the regular influx of the drug to the point where it is unable to function normally without Buprenorphine.

Symptoms of Buprenorphine Addiction

When someone is struggling with an addiction to Buprenorphine they will begin to exhibit the classic signs of drug addiction. Buprenorphine is an opioid, so there are the telltale sights of opioid abuse such as:

  • Escalating tolerance to the drug’s effects, leading to higher consumption of the drug
  • Doctor shopping to obtain additional prescriptions
  • Purchasing the Buprenorphine off the street or the Internet
  • Paraphernalia related to injecting the drug, such as needles, syringes, a white powdery substance, ropes or tubing to constrict blood flow
  • Loss of interest in recovery efforts once made. Not attending meetings as much or at all, hanging out with old pre-rehab friends, keeping odd hours
  • Neglect of personal hygiene
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies once enjoyed
  • Financial struggles due to missing work, spending excessive amounts of money on the drug, legal problems. They may steal money from their loved ones or ask friends for money
  • Loss of weight. Buprenorphine addiction can lead to loss of appetite, neglecting nutrition, skipping meals and subsequent weight loss

There are also physical signs of Buprenorphine abuse. These include nausea and vomiting, dilated pupils, tearing of the eyes, impaired speech, fainting, sweating, muscle aches, sleep problems, and drowsiness.

What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Buprenorphine?

Once chemically dependent, if the individual attempts to cease taking the drug, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which means that trying to stop it will trigger the same types of withdrawal symptoms of most other opiates.  The withdrawal symptoms will vary from mild to severe based on the length of history using Buprenorphine the level of dosing, and the mode used to administer the drug.

Buprenorphine detox and withdrawal is said to last longer than other opioids because it is chemically designed to block cravings for an extended period of time, meaning that it remains in bodily tissues longer. So, what are the withdrawal symptoms of Buprenorphine?

Withdrawal symptoms begin approximately 6-12 hours after the last Buprenorphine dose and include:

  • Nausea
  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Cravings
  • Mood swings

Many of these withdrawal symptoms, such as the gastrointestinal distress, fever, headache, and muscle ache, can be managed using simple over-the-counter medications by the detox team.

Why a Detox is Important for Buprenorphine

Monitoring is important during a Buprenorphine. No one should attempt to just quit the Buprenorphine. Instead, professional oversight where a doctor can prescribe a tapering program can help minimize withdrawal severity and successfully complete the detox. This, however, means that a Buprenorphine detox may last up to a month for the most severe addictions. Patience is required in order to safely progress through the detox phase to completion. Individuals who attempt to stop cold turkey are likely to quickly relapse back to Buprenorphine use as the highly unpleasant symptoms would be difficult to endure.

Depression and cravings may persist for a month or more, which makes the individual at risk for relapse and suicidal ideation. The  detox team will provide relief for the physical symptoms, as well as offer psychological aid to help manage feelings of depression and anxiety.

Holistic Therapies that Aid Buprenorphine Detox and Withdrawal

Natural therapies can aid in restoring health while promoting stress reduction during a Buprenorphine detox. There is much evidence that experiential and holistic therapies can help reduce the discomforts of withdrawing from opioids, and are very useful in ongoing aftercare and relapse prevention following treatment. Some of the holistic therapies used for a Buprenorphine detox acupuncture, yoga, and meditation. These activities can enhance recovery by regulating stress, as well as provide avenues to self-discovery that might be useful in subsequent addiction recovery.

Addiction Recovery Treatment for Buprenorphine Dependency

After the Buprenorphine detox and withdrawal process is completed, the individual will segue into an addiction treatment program. This is an integral component needed for moving beyond addictive behaviors and into healthy, productive ones that will help sustain recovery from opioids.

Treatment for a Buprenorphine addiction may be provided in an outpatient setting or a residential setting. The outpatient programs will offer several levels of intensity. In most cases of opioid addiction if outpatient treatment is desired the most intensive level is appropriate. This is the partial hospitalization program (PHP), also referred to as a day program, which requires daily participation in various therapeutic sessions throughout the week. The PHP involves 25-30 hours per week of participation in the therapy and education elements, but provides the flexibility to reside at home during the program. This allows someone who is not able to take an extended leave from family obligations to still obtain the treatment they need following detox.

The residential program involves a long-term commitment of 1-9 months. During the residential program, the individual will reside at the treatment center and participate in a wide variety of treatment elements daily. These programs provide structure and constant support, while allowing the individual to remove themselves from their usual home environment to be able to focus completely on recovery.

What to Expect in Buprenorphine Recovery Treatment

Most addiction recovery programs, whether it is an outpatient or residential format, will provide fundamental treatment elements to aid the individual in overcoming a Buprenorphine addiction. These treatment elements include:

  • Psychotherapy sessions. These therapy sessions are conducted one-on-one with a licensed psychotherapist who will assist the individual in identifying key addictive behaviors and patterns. Once these are noted, the therapist will use evidence-based therapies to guide the individual toward adopting more positive and productive thought and behavior patterns in recovery.
  • Peer group sessions. Group therapy involves a small collection of peers who can discuss openly topics related to overcoming addiction. The therapist will provide the topics and facilitate discussions so they are productive and supportive.
  • Education. Addiction education is key to the overall success of the treatment program. In these classes, individuals learn about how opioid addiction develops, and then are taught recovery tools that can help them avoid relapse.
  • Other activities. In a residential program there will be a focus on nutrition and fitness, both important to restoring health and wellness in recovery.
  • Continuing care. Once the treatment program is completed, continuing care services should be accessed for the best chance at obtaining a lasting recovery. These include outpatient counseling, sober living housing, and attending recovery meetings.

Ken Seeley Communities Provides Buprenorphine Detox Services

Ken Seeley Communities is a integrated addiction recovery program located in California. At Ken Seeley Communities, our philosophy for recovery from addiction or chemical dependency to Buprenorphine is centered on a transformational spectrum of treatment elements. This involves the initial residential detoxification process, participation in addiction recovery therapies, and continuing care services such as sober living and outpatient programming to help reinforce sobriety. When wondering what are the withdrawal symptoms of Buprenorphine, please contact our team for a thorough explanation of the detox and withdrawal process at (877) 744-0502.

How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Last?

Recovery from an opiate addiction or dependency is a multi-phased process that begins with an individual agreeing to get professional help. Whether they arrived at this realization after hitting their bottom, or by being encouraged by loved ones in an intervention doesn’t matter. All that really matters is beginning the recovery journey that will save someone’s life.

In anticipation of the dreaded detox from opiates, one may ask, “How long does opiate withdrawal last?” This is an expected question, as anyone with an opiate addiction knows full well what “dope sick” feels like. Just knowing they will have to endure days of discomfort is something that can cause anxiety and even second thoughts about going into treatment.

But knowledge is power. Being somewhat prepared for not only how long does the opiate withdrawal last, but also what to expect in rehab and beyond, can help to form a mental picture of the recovery process. Envisioning the steps that one will be moving through can help to muster courage and feel a little more in control.

What Is Involved in the Recovery Process?

Addiction recovery is a lifelong process that begins with the moment someone agrees to get needed help. Once that important decision has been made, it is time to seek out a treatment program that will align with the individual’s personal preferences, specific addiction features, resources, and mental health needs. There are different types of rehabs, as well as different levels of care, accommodations, and types of services.

Once a program has been selected, there will be an extensive intake process conducted. During the intake evaluation, the individual will participate in an interview with a clinician. This interview will allow the individual to relay the specific details about their opiate addiction history, any co-occurring mental health disorder, and any physical conditions. Clinicians may use assessment tools to help them further determine the new client’s recovery needs.

The rehab program will commence starting with detoxification, followed by an extensive addiction treatment program with intensive therapy, group therapy, and related activities. Once the rehab program is completed, the client should access continuing care services that include outpatient therapy and 12-step meetings at minimum.

Residential Detox for Opiate Addiction

Many clients are curious and ask, “How long does opiate withdrawal last?” They may be apprehensive about going through detox and need some reassurance prior to beginning the process. The detox and withdrawal process lasts about one to two weeks in most cases.

During a residential detox individuals will be well attended to. The withdrawal symptoms, which are similar to a bad flu with the added features of psychological symptoms, begin to emerge within 12 hours of the last opiate dosing, peak on days 2-4, and then begin to incrementally subside. During the detox and withdrawal phase of treatment, the detox team will provide medications and other remedies to help ease the discomfort and pain caused by the withdrawal symptoms. So, as worried as a client might be when they inquire, “How long does opiate withdrawal last?” they may be surprised to find that it is over before they know it.

Rehab for Opiate Addiction

Treatment for the opiate addiction includes multiple treatment interventions. These include:

  • One-on-one psychotherapy sessions based primarily on CBT
  • Group therapy
  • Family-based counseling
  • 12-step programming
  • Addiction education
  • Relapse prevention strategizing
  • Motivational guest speakers
  • Adjunctive services, such as yoga classes, mindfulness meditation training, art therapy, or other holistic therapies
  • Medication management

Rehab is available in various outpatient formats or residential, determined largely by the severity of the addiction, whether a client can leave work for an extended period, and the client’s resources.

Outpatient Treatment and Continuing Care

Continuing care refers to the post-rehab services or activities that can help bolster recovery, especially during the first six months of recovery when clients are most vulnerable. Continuing care might include sober living housing for a few months, continuing on with weekly outpatient therapy, and attending 12-step meetings. All of these activities will help to reinforce early recovery while providing key sources of support.

Ken Seeley Communities Offers All Opiate Addiction Treatment Services

Ken Seeley Communities is a comprehensive addiction treatment program located in California. Ken Seeley is a renowned professional interventionist, featured on the A&E show, Intervention. Ken Seeley Communities offers the full spectrum of addiction treatment services, including intervention services, residential detoxification, addiction treatment (outpatient and residential), sober living housing, and continuing care services. Contact us with any questions regarding treatment for an opiate addiction, including, “How long does opiate withdrawal last?” Our caring and knowledgeable team is happy to answer all questions. Reach out to us at (877) 744-0502.

Prescription Opioid to Heroin Use

Prescription Opioid to Heroin Use

Over-prescribing prescription opioid has led to a national drug epidemic resulting in millions of people developing an addiction to these drugs. While doctors were initially misinformed about the drugs’ potential for addiction by the manufacturers, financial compensation lured them into unscrupulous prescribing practices that have had devastating consequences.

A pattern emerged about a decade ago, when it was noticed that heroin use had dramatically increased. This was strange because for decades heroin had been relegated to the fringe among recreational drug users. Suddenly, heroin addiction was on the rise in segments of the population where it had not formerly been common, such as in upscale suburban communities. Eventually, a connection between prescription opioid to heroin use was revealed, explaining the spike in heroin addiction.

Why People Shift From Prescription Opioid to Heroin Use

Prescription opioids are extremely addicting, even in as little as two weeks of prescribed use a patient can become addicted. When the prescription runs out, the individual will begin to feel sick, therefore asking for a refill. When the doctor finally refuses to refill the prescription, the now addicted patient becomes desperate. They may search for the opioids on the Internet or purchase the pills on the street. They may begin doctor shopping, hoping to score a new prescription. But when all avenues eventually dry up, the individual may shift from prescription opioid to heroin use.

Heroin is also an opioid, created from morphine, which is derived from the opium poppy plant. Prescription opioids have a similar effect to heroin, so gravitating to heroin when the synthetic opioids are no longer available or affordable is a natural step for the addict to take. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 80% of heroin users report first misusing prescription opioids. Heroin offers these individuals a more potent high at a fraction of the cost.

Overcoming a Heroin Addiction

It is a very difficult decision to seek out treatment for a heroin addiction no matter what devastation it has done to one’s life. The prospect of being “dope sick,” and then going through the painful process of detox and withdrawal can be a significant barrier to treatment. While this fear is understandable, it is important for loved ones to help the heroin addict to focus on the longer view. In some cases, accessing the services of a professional interventionist is the most effective and expedient way to get a loved one to the point of accepting help.

Once the individual has agreed to enter treatment, they will embark on an extended stay at a residential rehab where they will be guided through the early phases of the recovery journey. These phases include:

  • Residential detox. The individual will undergo detox and withdrawal under the supervision of a detox team that will provide interventions to ease withdrawal symptoms.
  • Therapy. Psychotherapy will be scheduled throughout the week, alternating between individual therapy sessions with a licensed psychotherapist, group sessions that are led by a therapist or clinician, and family-focused sessions where family members are invited to participate.
  • Classes. Addiction education helps individuals gain a better understanding of the effects of opioids on the brain and how the drug alters brain chemistry and function. The classes also focus on planning relapse prevention strategies, and equip the individual with essential recovery skills.
  • Holistic activities. Learning how to manage emotions, stress, and difficult life events in recovery is an essential asset. Utilizing activities that promote relaxation and reduce stress will help the individual stay on track. These include deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, massage therapy, and mindfulness.

Continuing Care After Rehab

Once the rehab program has been successfully completed, the individual will need to access continuing care services to reinforce their newfound freedom from drug addiction. These include ongoing weekly outpatient therapy and classes, sober living housing, and active participation in a recovery community such as A.A.’s 12-step meetings or SMART Recovery meetings. Heroin addiction is treatable. Why not break free from the grip of addiction and begin your journey back to happiness today.

Ken Seeley Communities Offers Opioid Addiction Treatment in Palm Springs

Ken Seeley Communities is a comprehensive addiction recovery program offering intervention, residential detox, rehabilitation, sober living, and aftercare services. At Ken Seeley Communities, the expert clinical staff is highly experienced in treating individuals who have segued from prescription opioid to heroin use. Providing the latest in proven, evidence-based addiction treatment protocols, Ken Seeley Communities will guide each client through the phases of opioid recovery with respect and compassion. For more information about Ken Seeley Communities, please contact us at (877) 744-0502.