Teenagers try heroin for any number of reasons. They may want to experiment, to impress their friends, or to avoid the pain of whatever is happening in their lives. The good news is that a 2008 University of Michigan study shows that less than one percent of high school seniors had tried heroin within the previous year. This rate is significantly less than the 65 percent who had consumed alcohol illegally and the 32 percent who had smoked marijuana.
The bad news is that heroin is one of the most addictive and deadly drugs. The Drug Abuse Warning Network estimates that heroin, also known as smack, dope, junk, brown sugar, black tar, horse and mud, puts nearly 190,000 people in hospital emergency rooms each year.
Few adolescents realize how dangerous heroin is. Some even put it on the same level as medical marijuana or legal cigarettes. According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), this illegal drug:
- Slows thinking
- Slows reaction times
- Reduces memory function
- Affects decision-making abilities
- Makes the body feel itchy
- Increases the risk of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis from injections
- Increases the potential for collapsed veins and liver or kidney disease
- Forms chemical dependence quickly
- Increases situations of violence and crime
Most importantly, heroin can kill you. Medical examiners see more heroin junkies in their morgues than other people who have died from drug-related deaths.
Teen Heroin Withdrawal
“Nearly one out of every four people who tries heroin becomes chemically dependent on it…”Nearly one out of every four people who tries heroin becomes chemically dependent on it, according to the latest SAMHSA estimates. With a single injection, the heroin rushes through the blood, enters the brain and converts into the painkiller morphine. It sends a surge of pleasure throughout the body. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that the rush is so great that many teens decide to repeat the process. They develop a tolerance and must use greater amounts of heroin in order to produce the same euphoria.
If you rely on heroin for a high and then stop using it, you are likely to see withdrawal symptoms in as little as three hours. Heroin withdrawal signs occur whether you have injected, snorted, smoked or ingested the drug. These signs reach their most difficult levels approximately two to three days after the last high. They gradually decrease over the next seven days, but some people report symptoms even months later.
Signs of teen heroin withdrawal include:
- Pain in the muscles and bones
Sudden withdrawal can even kill people who are deeply dependent on drugs and already weakened by various diseases or illnesses.
SAMHSA attributes two common phrases to heroin withdrawal: “cold turkey” refers to cold flashes with goose bumps and “kicking the habit” refers to an addict’s kicking motions.
Above all, the one major symptom of withdrawal is the continual craving to get high. This factor, more than the physical issues, leads adolescents to repeated drug use. At some point the drug abuse turns from a controllable behavior into a medical illness that requires professional attention.
Heroin Addiction Rehab
SAMHSA discovered that more than 1,600 teenagers had been admitted to heroin abuse treatment facilities in 2007. One out of three patients walked in voluntarily, while the others were referred by law enforcement agencies, courts, doctors and alcohol/drug abuse professionals.
If you are addicted to heroin or any other drug, don’t wait until the cops get involved to seek treatment. You have access to expert advice at no cost to you. Call for a confidential evaluation and treatment options.
The most successful heroin treatments combine pharmaceutical detoxification with behavioral therapy. Certain prescription drugs can ease the pain of heroin withdrawal and help prevent relapse. As listed by SAMHSA, these medications include:
- Methadone, a synthetic opiate that reduces the desire for other opioids and blocks withdrawal symptoms
- Buprenorphine, which is similar to methadone but does not carry the same level of dependence and withdrawal issues
- Naltrexone, a drug that blocks the high feelings produced by heroin
- Naloxone, which is a short-acting medication for heroin overdoses
Reducing a patient’s dependence on a heroin high is just the first step. Only ongoing counseling and behavior management can treat the underlying disorder. Heroin treatment for adolescents typically strives toward four goals:
- Helping the patient understand the power of addiction and how to break it
- Improving the patient’s ability to avoid risky situations and cope with stress
- Rewarding the patient’s ongoing sobriety
- Encouraging healthy living through a combination of physical, mental, social and psychological factors
Adolescent heroin users wait an average of 18 months before seeking treatment, based on SAMHSA data. Depending on the severity of the heroin addiction, the existence of other medical conditions, and the strength of the support network, clinicians may recommend either outpatient or inpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment options involve regular visits to a substance abuse professional and to individual or group therapy sessions. Inpatient treatment involves 24-hour support at a residential treatment facility. To discuss which option is right for you, call .
Life After Addiction
“One stay in a treatment facility is often not enough to prevent relapse. Heroin addicts are never completely cured.”One stay in a treatment facility is often not enough to prevent relapse. Heroin addicts are never completely cured. In fact, a SAMHSA report reveals that over half of the adolescents admitted for heroin treatment in 2007 had already been in treatment at least once before.
At the same time, heroin recovery is a real possibility. It has already been accomplished by thousands of young adults, but it requires a day-by-day approach. When you enter teenager heroin treatment, your counselors will teach you ways to avoid the peer pressure of drug-using friends, cope with places or activities you associate with heroin, and redirect your attention to other pleasurable components of your life. You can also benefit from 12-step programs and support meetings that use personal experiences of success to set examples for newly recovering addicts.
Teen heroin abuse is a devastating condition that unnecessarily severs families, ruins careers, and ends the possibilities associated with education. Seek treatment now before an overdose ends your chances at redemption. Call to speak with a specialist who understands your situation and wants to set you on the path to a brighter future.
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