What to Know About Opiate & Heroine Addiction in Vermont

Because heroin creates short-lived but fast-acting feelings of being “high,” many users become quickly addicted to the drug, as they need more and more powerful dosages to reach the same effect. Heroin is typically injected into the body through a vein, snorted, or smoked. It can also be mixed with other drugs, including cocaine.

Heroin can also lead to medical complications both from short-term use and longer-term addiction, including:

  • Nausea and upset stomach
  • Difficulty concentrating or managing thinking
  • Inability to sleep
  • Damage to the heart, including infections
  • Damage to other organs, including the liver, kidneys, and lungs
  • Depression, anxiety, or withdrawal from society
  • Severe and lasting damage to blood vessels and veins

Like other potent drugs, heroin also carries the risk of overdose, which can lead to coma and brain damage due to lack of oxygen as a person stops breathing when falling unconscious.

How is heroin addiction treated?

The first challenge that many heroin users face during their recovery is managing challenging symptoms of withdrawal, the process that occurs as the body re-adjusts to being without the drug. Heroin is a highly potent drug and withdrawal can begin to occur only hours after the most recent dosage. This leads many users to seek out the drug quickly to prevent withdrawal symptoms from appearing.

Symptoms of heroin withdrawal typically include:

  • An inability to calm down, sleep, or stop moving
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Muscle pain and cramps
  • Nausea, including vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea
  • Involuntary muscle movements, particularly in the legs
  • Strong cravings

Many frequent heroin users may also struggle with a psychological or mental impact from their drug use, as the brain “re-wires” itself during chronic drug use and may struggle with cognitive functioning. As a result, we strongly recommend chronic heroin users seek out licensed professional treatment as they go through withdrawal and move into recovery. Treatment for heroin addiction and dependence typically includes two components: a period of physical detoxification as the drug leaves the system (a process often called “detox”) followed by an intensive series of psychological treatment, including individual and group therapy, family therapy, recovery coaching, and 12 step groups, to help develop healthy new behaviors around their drug use.

Our own process for treating heroin addiction involves all of the aforementioned psychological treatments that help clients learn valuable skills and understand how to sustainably manage their addiction for the long term.

Every person struggling with heroin addiction has a different drug experience and reason behind their struggle, and we work hard to place our clients in a treatment program that works for them. Because we use assessments, we can find the right stage of our program that fits best for each client’s recovery goals and needs.

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