Watching your son or daughter struggle with heroin addiction is one of the hardest things that you can go through as a parent. You have always wanted the best for your child, and while you wish that you could solve this problem for them, you feel absolutely powerless to help.
It’s important to remember that no matter how difficult the situation may appear, there is always hope.
Overcoming heroin addiction is never easy, and the process will take time. By educating yourself about the nature of this drug and the important role of heroin addiction rehab centers, you can be the source of strength that your child needs to take back control of their life.
Here, we take a closer look at everything you need to know about how to help your child who is addicted to heroin.
Signs of Heroin Addiction
In 2016, nearly 1 million Americans admitted to using heroin over the previous year, making it one of the most widely abused drugs in the country. If you fear that your child is addicted to heroin but you don’t know for certain, there are a number of warning signs to look for, such as:
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Depressed mood
- Poor performance at school or work
- Social withdrawal
- Glassy eyes with pinpoint pupils
- Deceptive behavior
- Digestive issues and constipation
- Poor personal hygiene
- Injection scars on the body, commonly known as “track marks”
- Frequent mood swings
Heroin Withdrawal Timeline
Going through withdrawal is arguably the most challenging stage of heroin addiction recovery. The symptoms of heroin detox can be broken down into two phases, and typically begin six to 12 hours after the user has taken their last dose. While the intensity of withdrawal symptoms will vary from person to person depending on factors like age, level of addiction and health status, the symptoms themselves are similar for everyone.
During the first stage of heroin detox, your son will likely experience the following symptoms:
- Muscle aches
- Runny nose
- Increased heart rate
- Watery eyes
The second stage of heroin withdrawal begins one to two days after the last dose and reaches peak intensity within 72 hours of abstinence. Stage two withdrawal symptoms include:
- Intense heroin cravings
- Stomach cramps
The Need for Medically-Assisted Detox
Is your child is battling a severe heroin addiction? The safest way to get through the early stages of recovery is through a medically-assisted detox program at a licensed heroin rehab center. In a medically-assisted detox program, your son or daughter will be under the supervision of doctors and addiction treatment professionals 24 hours a day.
Although the acute withdrawal syndrome associated with heroin detox is rarely fatal, it is an extremely uncomfortable process. Those who have gone through heroin withdrawal frequently report that the experience is like having the worst flu of their lives. It’s no wonder why the estimated rate of heroin relapse is higher than 90 percent.
Medically-assisted detox allows recovering addicts to go through heroin withdrawal in a safe and controlled environment, which greatly reduces the risk of relapse.
Many heroin treatment centers recommend that addicts undergo medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to reduce the risk of relapse during the withdrawal phase. The medications used in MAT help to alleviate heroin cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and can only be prescribed by SAMHSA-certified opioid treatment programs.
The medications that can be used in MAT programs include:
Buprenorphine (aka Suboxone) is a partial opioid agonist used to suppress heroin cravings during withdrawal. While buprenorphine is itself an opioid drug, it does not produce the powerful sense of euphoria that users get from heroin, and can be used to safely wean the body off stronger opioids.
Methadone works in much the same way as buprenorphine does. Although methadone is less expensive and more widely used than buprenorphine, it comes with a slightly higher potential for abuse. This explains its decreasing popularity in rehab programs.
Naltrexone (aka Vivitrol) is both an opioid agonist and antagonist, meaning it helps reduce cravings for heroin while also blocking the pleasurable effects of other opioid drugs. A person taking naltrexone will not experience a high if they use heroin, which greatly reduces the risk of relapsing.
Rehab for Heroin Addiction
Once the withdrawal period is over and the last traces of heroin have left your child’s system, the deep work of addiction rehabilitation can begin.
First, your son or daughter may need your help in choosing the heroin rehab program that best suits their needs. Typically, heroin-addicted men achieve the best results through inpatient rehabilitation. Inpatient rehab offers clients the opportunity to focus all of their energy on self-care and healing. Additionally, they won’t have to manage all of the stress that everyday life presents.
At Reflections Recovery Center, our heroin addiction treatment program incorporates many different forms of both clinical and holistic therapy, such as:
- Motivational interviewing
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Nutritional and vitamin therapy
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
- Trauma-informed care
- Recreational therapy
At our treatment facility in Prescott, AZ, your child will undergo a course of treatment specifically designed to address the unique obstacles heroin addicts face in recovery. Entering a heroin rehab program also allows patients to become more vulnerable and open to therapy than they might be in a more generalized environment.
Take the First Step Toward Heroin Detox and Rehab
We understand how painful it is to watch a loved one struggle with heroin addiction. As a parent, you are likely wrestling with the fear that your son or daughter will never be the same person they were before heroin addiction took hold. However, you must never forget that there is always hope. By reaching out today, you can start the process of recovery and save your child from a life of addiction.
It won’t be easy, and it will take time, but with hard work and guidance from our team of addiction treatment professionals, your loved one can reroute the course of their life and experience lasting recovery.