Opiates, which are made from the poppy plant, are powerful painkillers. Examples of opiates include Vicodin, OxyContin, and codeine, which are manufactured as analgesic pharmaceuticals. Others, like heroin, are used primarily as illicit drugs. All opiates, however, can cause dependence and are highly addictive.
Heroin and opiate addicts often have total relaxation and intense euphoria. Feelings of euphoria are accompanied by warm skin and heavy limbs. Short-term effects occur after a single dose and fade after a few hours.
Heroin is also known as “smack”, “h”, or “junk”, and is processed from morphine. Like all opiates, it is a depressant that inhibits the central nervous system. Heroin is administered in three ways: smoking, snorting, or shooting (injecting). Since it enters the brain quite quickly, heroin is very addictive; each time a user administers heroin, more is needed to get the same high.
Long-term effects of heroin and opiate use include collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, cellulitis, and liver disease. Often various types of pneumonia, arise from heroin’s depressing effects on respiration.
Furthermore, heroin can clog the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain problems. This can cause infection or even death of small patches of cells in vital organs. Other infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, may also result from consuming the drug intravenously.
Finally, the use of opiates and heroin with other central nervous system depressants, like alcohol, sedatives, and antihistamines, increases the risk of respiratory failure. Occasionally, when opiates are consumed in large doses, breathing can be suppressed to the point of death.
At TLC (The Luminous Care) treatment for heroin and opiate addiction usually begins with medically assisted detoxification, and drugs like methadone or buprenorphrine are administered to help prevent relapse and ease withdrawal symptoms. Holistic treatment plans also include counseling and maintenance programs, as detoxification is merely a first step in overcoming an addiction to opiates.