Many people have heard of heroin addiction and many have heard of prescription drug addiction. However, both of these addictions fall under the same addiction – an addiction to opiates. Heroin and painkillers are both opiates and both require opiate addiction treatment.
Heroin and Prescription Drugs
Because heroin and prescription drugs are the same type of substance, one addiction can easily lead to the other. Mostly commonly, a prescription drug addiction might slowly lead to a heroin addiction. Because painkillers require a prescription and can be expensive, it’s easy to make the switch to heroin, which has dropped in value in recent years. In fact, there has been a flood of heroin at very low prices, making it very accessible to wide groups of people. In the 60’s and 70’s, you could buy a “dime bag” for $10. Now, you can buy a “dime bag” for $6. This small price drop is enough to get more people using it and has partly caused the heroin epidemic in America.
The abuse of prescription painkillers has reached epidemic proportions in America. Close to half of the nation’s 38,329 drug overdose deaths in 2010 involved painkillers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For those who are continue to struggle with a prescription drug addiction, heroin addiction may not be so far behind.
Opiates vs. Opioids
Opiates are a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant. It can be used as a strong pain reliever and many medications are derived from it, including:
However, opioids are synthetic drugs that are meant to work in the same way as opiates. Opioids have a similar effect on a person’s body compared to opiates because the two closely resemble one another in makeup. Types of opioids include:
- Percocet, Percodan, OxyContin (oxycodone)
- Vicodin, Lorcet, Lortab (hydrocodone)
- Demerol (pethidine)
- Dilaudid (hydromorphone)
- Duragesic (fentanyl)
Both opiates and opioids can be injected, inhaled, or smoked. As already mentioned, once a person is addicted to painkillers, heroin, which is also an opiate, satisfies one’s addiction at cheaper prices.
Components to Opiate Addiction Treatment
America is currently facing a huge opiate epidemic with thousands of people addicted to painkillers and heroin. Thousands of people need detox and opiate addiction treatment. In general, the treatment for those with an opiate/heroin addiction need to undergo clinical, supervised detoxification in order to manage the withdrawal symptoms. Research has shown that the best combination of treatment include medication to manage the withdrawal symptoms as well as therapy to address the behavioral and psychological issues that contributed to the addiction in the first place.
The following is a list of components that may be included in opiate addiction treatment, depending upon the facility:
- opiate detoxification
- medical treatment and supervision
- psychological assessment
- methadone maintenance treatment (the use of methadone to help a person safely and slowly wean off opiates)
- participation in a residential drug treatment program
- behavioral therapy
- family therapy
- wellness therapy
- psychosocial support (housing, vocational rehabilitation, etc.)
- 12-step meetings
Obviously, opiate addiction treatment may include various methods. For instance, another type of medication sometimes used to treat this addiction is non-addictive drug Vivitrol. This medication blocks the opiate receptors in the brain. And in life threatening emergencies, Naloxone may be used to save the life of someone who is in the middle of a heroin overdose.
Eventually, in order for a person to sustain sobriety from opiates, they will need to create a new lifestyle that includes making different daily choices to promote health and well being. They may also require a strong support system as well as a reexamination of thoughts and behaviors that may have contributed to the cycle of addiction.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to heroin or prescription drugs, contact a mental health provider today. This addiction has already taken the lives of millions of people around the world. If you’d like to save your life or the life of someone else, get help immediately.