Heroin is derived from the opium poppy plant. It was once legal in the United States for medical purposes in treating patients’ pain.
Heroin is in the same class of drugs as morphine. At one time, the two drugs were thought to be interchangeable.
Heroin in its purest form is white, crystallized powder. It is also found in brown and black batches. The latter is known on the streets as “black tar heroin.”
Heroin users report feeling euphoria, similar to that experienced during an orgasm, upon first ingesting heroin. The most common method of ingestion is intravenous heroin use.
When a Teen Falls into Addiction
The teen’s highest chances of success lie in a complete change of environment and surroundings. Otherwise, old habits are insurmountably difficult to overcome. The extremely addictive and powerful nature of heroin addiction makes it imperative for addicts to seek professional attention.
Without help, teen heroin addiction risks
- Respiratory depression and failure
- Collapsed veins
- HIV/AIDS and hepatitis
- Death from accidental overdose
Modern-day batches of processed heroin are available on the black market to be smoked or snorted by buyers. The majority of polled users report feeling as though such methods of ingestion are “less risky” than shooting the drug intravenously. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case. Teens and adults alike can overdose and die from snorting or smoking heroin. When heroin is combined with over-the-counter medications or prescription pills, the combination of drugs in a teen’s system can be fatal.
Through a multifaceted approach to addiction treatment, the afflicted teen heals from the inside out. Holistic approaches to heroin addiction heed the importance of connecting the mind and body in a powerful way — to instill unity and peace within the afflicted teen.
Consider the hypothetical teen male who does not undergo holistic treatment for heroin addiction. This male, John, reaches out and participates in only one outpatient treatment program, while continuing to attend school and practice with the soccer team. In doing so, John ignores the multidimensional nature of the human condition. Within six months of his outpatient treatment commencing, John has relapsed as a byproduct of unaddressed emotional issues. The childhood trauma he experienced at a young age was never worked through via therapy. By staying immersed in his daily environment, he left himself susceptible to temptation. Thus, his sobriety faltered. Although the outpatient program John attended had provided John with a medical detoxification from heroin — flushing the chemicals out of his body — John did not engage in emotional or mental developmental work on a substantial level. In other words, putting only one foot in the door to recovery and leaving one foot in the throws of life is a recipe for failure. Sustainable sobriety requires two feet fully in the door. Thus, John’s chances of success were reduced from the start.
Different Treatment Approaches
From a scientific standpoint, clinicians have confirmed that a combination of pharmacological, behavioral and psychological approaches to heroin addiction treatment tend to work best. Essentially, the chances of long-term sobriety are improved when several treatment approaches are integrated into one comprehensive, drug-free plan. A rehabilitation center is the best bet for a teenager suffering from a heroin addiction. What is involved in teen heroin rehab?
The following are integral components of a typical heroin addiction treatment program:
- Detoxification from heroin under medically monitored supervision. This is important due to the dangerous, unpleasant side effects associated with heroin withdrawal. Addicts have build up a tolerance to the drug, requiring higher and higher doses of heroin to feel the same effects. Thus, withdrawing from heroin is extremely intense and requires medical intervention. Throughout the process, clinicians may prescribe counter-indicative medications, such as Methadone, in order to mitigate withdrawal symptoms.
- Counseling. Individualized therapy and counseling services incorporates the psychological component of addiction into the teen’s treatment regimen. Therapy helps address underlying issues such as a co-occurring mental illness like bipolar disorder or unresolved childhood trauma – either of which has subconsciously fueled the teen’s addiction. This is normally called dual diagnosis treatment.
- Group work. Rehab offers the unique opportunity for teen heroin addicts to relate to one another in a group forum. Teens share struggles that are unique to their age category, such as peer pressure, heightened expectations from parents, stress associated with the college application process or athletic requirements and problems at home, such as recently divorced parents or a younger sibling who is physically ill. Discussing commonalities among heroin addicts gives them a renewed sense of hope and purpose. When they are alone and active in their addiction, teen heroin users feel isolated and misunderstood. Through group therapy sessions, these feelings dissipate. Positive feelings related to feeling like part of a greater good replace prior negative feelings.
- A comprehensive aftercare plan. While in rehab, teens do not leave without an aftercare plan. Steps to take outside of the rehab center are crucial in order for the teen heroin addict to sustain sobriety. On-site clinicians and therapists help teen addicts draft a comprehensive, detailed plan on how to stay drug-free for the rest of their lives.
In the case of teens with co-occurring disorders, the recommended treatment period is longer, most likely 90 days or more. Through proper management of both the substance abuse problem and the co-occurring disorder, teen heroin addicts can go on to lead healthy, fulfilling adult lives.