Heroin Addiction: Can You Die From Withdrawal?

Are you addicted to heroin? If you having apprehensions on quitting due to this intriguing question, “Can you die from withdrawal?” Here are a few things you need to know about heroin abuse and addiction and side effects that could lead to heroin user’s fatality.

Heroin is a highly addictive and rapidly acting illegal drug that is the single most abused opiate in the United States. Heroin has one of the most serious addiction rates of all illegal drugs. Abusers of heroin have no way of knowing the actual strength of the heroin, nor do they know the true contents of the drug. For this reason, they are at a higher risk for overdose or death.

What is Heroin Withdrawal?

Heroin withdrawal occurs when the user decided to reduce or quit abruptly from use of this drug. The withdrawal symptoms from heroin may differ from one user to another and it’s crucial that a medical professional is there to supervise the withdrawal process. The attending doctor may also suggest undergoing therapy treatment after the medical detox from heroin to ensure the recovering addict full support on the mental aspect of this type of drug addiction problem.

What are the Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms?

Anyone suffering from heroin addiction will have to deal with unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. The moment the heroin user stops taking this drug, the withdrawal symptoms may become visible during the 6 to 24 hours of last use. The severity of withdrawal symptoms do vary and be dependent on the user’s amount of heroin used, length of usage as well as other factors like mixing it with other drugs or substances like alcohol.

The following are some of the expected withdrawal symptoms that can affect anyone with a case of heroin abused or addiction:

Feeling of restlessness

Chills or cold sweats

Constipation

Frequent yawning

Feeling feverish

Malaise

Nausea

Body cramps

Painful erection of penis

Excessive sweating

Teary eyes

Vomiting

Other heroin users may experience latent withdrawal symptoms and be in the following complications:

Abdominal pain

Diarrhea

Diluted pupils

Depression

Disturbance in sleep

Can you die from withdrawal?

Withdrawing from heroin will not be the cause of your death, but severe complications could be life threatening and may require immediate emergency assistance. Here are some of the serious side effects of the heroin withdrawal:

Seizures

Respiratory problems

A seizure could lead to a respiratory failure and be the cause of a heroin user’s death. This is why it’s vital for anyone diagnosed with heroin addiction to seek professional help when planning to quit from heroin. With the expertise of a medical professional, the heroin user has higher percentage of coping with the unbearable and most painful withdrawal symptoms.

How to achieve a safe recovery from heroin addiction?

Heroin addiction is a complex case of addiction problem due to the effect of the drug to the user, both body and mind. If you want to achieve a safe recovery from heroin addiction, it’s advisable that you entrust the heroin withdrawal treatment under the care of a doctor, rehab specialist and psychiatrist. These people can really assure you of a safe recovery journey because they are fully equipped with knowledge, tools and skills to help you finish each phase of the rehab treatment program, from medical detox, therapies and other programs that are designed to treat the addiction as well as the underlying causes of this addiction problem like the trigger factors. Heroin addicts who opted to undergo a complete rehab treatment that combines medical approach with counseling and therapies are likely to recover from this addiction and living a sober life.

Intense drug cravings

Substance Abuse and Mental Illness – Two Sides of the Same Coin

Substance use disorders and mental illnesses often go hand in hand. Thus, one cannot get his or her depression or anxiety treated until the addiction to drugs or alcohol has been addressed. In fact, both these disorders feed on each, wreaking havoc on an individual’s well-being.

However, due to lack of awareness, many people suffering from such dual condition are not getting the right kind of treatments. While 50 percent of general psychiatric patients also suffer from a substance use disorder, only 7.4 percent of individuals receive treatment for both the conditions, said a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Precisely, around 37 percent of alcoholics and 53 percent of drug abusers face a high risk of developing a mental illness at any given point, said the report.

An urge to self-medicate mood disorders, such as depression, bipolar disorder or anxiety, is the driving force behind a person’s addiction to drugs or alcohol. Similarly, a persistent drug abuse or dependence can lead to symptoms of mental health issues. However, both these conditions also share certain common triggers, such as family history of dual diagnosis, stress levels, past traumatic experiences, degree of exposure to drugs etc.

Rapid increase in dual diagnosis cases in America

Studies have shown that in the United States, Hispanics are more susceptible to both alcohol and drug abuse than other ethnic groups. Besides, Hispanics also face higher odds of falling prey to depression and an additional substance use problem. Though, the causes of such disparities are highly debatable, the truth is no single ethnic group in America is immune to the dangers of dual diagnosis.

Research shows that men are significantly more vulnerable to suffer from dual diagnosis than women. Other sections of the society which face a strikingly high risk include individuals from lower social and economic groups, veterans from the armed forces and those with more general medical illnesses.

According to mental health experts, genes and other hereditary factors may put individuals at the risk of addiction and mental health-related problems, with a greater possibility of an overlap between such genetic factors. These overlapping factors indicate that some people are more likely to develop multiple disorders than others.

Importantly, if there is any impairment in an individual’s reward and stress functions, which are strongly linked to addiction, it could also render them vulnerable to coexisting conditions. It has been found that those suffering from schizophrenia and those who are addicted to drugs have impaired reward pathways with a high concentration of dopamine activity. People depend on drugs to gain euphoria, without realizing that their substance abuse can trigger latent mental illnesses, making them worse over time.

Dual diagnosis is treatable

Dual diagnosis can be treated with a specialized treatment provided to address both the mental disorder and the substance use disorder at the same time. Substance-induced mental health disorders can be prevented if one avoids addictive substances. Mental health issues may seem treatable in the beginning but can become severe with the passage of time. It is important to screen patients for potential cognitive impairment and provide integrated treatment that caters to both the disorders.

The Hindrances To Drug Abuse Treatment

It is a fact that a person who experiments with drugs becomes more deeply involved the longer he continues his use of the substances. Along the way, the user becomes aware of the harm drugs are causing him. When not under the influence of the drugs, the user regrets that he started using them and wishes he might stay away from them.

Some drug abusers come to this realization after their first few trials. For them, it may be relatively easy to quit. But the longer a person continues to use drugs, the more difficult it becomes for him to give them up.

Dealing with addiction through drug abuse treatment is quite a challenge, and there are a number of real hindrances to complete recovery. These include some unsolved personal problems, the fear of ridicule by friends who are also into drugs, and the fear of failure. Let’s examine how each of these factors can hinder recovery from drug addiction:

Unsolved personal problems:

This factor constitutes a great hindrance to recovery from drug addiction. After the user has experimented with the drugs and has indulged for a time, it becomes even more difficult for him to solve the very problems that prompted him to continue his use of the drugs in the first place.

The person’s continued use of the drugs has taken away his courage and weakened his stamina. Worse, it caused him to lose time in the personal development that would have enabled him to make improvement.

Fear of ridicule by drug-using friends:

In the likeliest of possibilities, a young person who is into drugs belongs to a group of drug users. There are instances when some of them also wish to quit, but are not successful in their attempt to do so. Understandably, they are not willing to see anyone in their group succeed where they have failed.

The drug users who wanted to quit but failed may even be afraid that the one who successfully gave up the habit will turn against them by becoming an informer. It is not difficult to understand that a drug pusher will make it as hard as possible for his “clients” to quit.

We have to remember that people in their teens need friends. If they discontinue the use of drugs, their friends, who are also drug users, will no longer allow them to take part in their social activities. By this time, the drug user has already established an unpleasant reputation, which makes it difficult for him to develop new friends. This is because a teenager who has not used drugs fears that his influence will be a disadvantage to those who do.

Fear of failure:

The habitual drug user is at a disadvantage when it comes to continuing his education or finding work. There is a very slim chance that he’ll get a scholarship or land a decent job. He is easily hurt emotionally by such failures that he yields easily to pressures to continue using drugs.

This, of course, is not to say that there’s no hope for a chronic drug user to recover from his addiction. There are therapies and professional help available to make him succeed in “kicking” the habit.

What Leads to Substance Abuse?

What makes someone decide to take the plunge into the world of chemicals? Is it desperation, anger, loneliness or plain and simple ignorance?

“But why did you do it in the first place?”, a question that pops into your mind every time you see your loved ones struggling with their addiction at a substance abuse treatment facility. It is perfectly alright to ask this question; after all, how would you be able to help end the addiction if you don’t know what started it? Mostly people take drugs because they want to change something about themselves or their lives, alcohol and drugs seem like a solution to them but eventually, the solution becomes the problem.

A lot of researchers have tried to figure out the reason behind the inception of this deadly habit and after talking to several people who have been through the ups and downs of substance abuse, an anti-drug organization Foundation for a Drug-Free World has come up with a list of probable reasons behind why one chooses to walk down the dark road.

• To fit in: “Everyone is doing it”, more often than we realize this kind of statement is the subtle hint of peer pressure. Many young people lack the social skill of making friends or fitting in a group and they would just about do anything to feel accepted and have a cool group of their own. Unfortunately if they come across a group which is already involved in drug/substance abuse, it is more likely that they would also give in rather than taking a stand all to fit in.

• To escape or relax: Everybody has got troubles of their own that they deal with on a daily basis, but sometimes it becomes too much for them. While some of us try to look for a break by going for a vacation or taking a few days off; others choose the high of alcohol, drugs or other substances to take their mind off the problem. It starts slowly maybe once a month but slowly and steadily the person starts getting dependent on the high. Every time he feels pressurized, he turns towards the high looking for an escape and before he realizes it, that temporary high becomes a permanent need.

• To relieve boredom: One of the major factors in drug abuse in teens and young adults is boredom. Most of the time when they have extra free time at hand or no hobbies and interests to keep us occupied, they start looking for exciting things to do and drinking/ smoking up or drugs seems like a good idea. They think that they have strong will power and may quit any time they want to but the sad reality is once you get hooked up you cannot ‘just stop’ without professional help; in fact trying to go ‘cold turkey’ may even prove to be fatal.

• To seem grown up: When teenagers and young adults see their friends or family getting involved with alcohol or drugs, even if it is something as casual as social drinking; they start to think they even they can handle it. It becomes easier for them to rationalize it by thinking stuff like ‘Everybody drinks during the Sunday family get-together so, why I can’t?’ even the modern music and entertainment seems to be filled with references to drugs making the youngsters believe that it’s Okay to try it

sometimes. This ‘sometimes’ pushes them slowly and steadily towards addiction.

• To rebel: Most parents warn their kids and ask them to stay away from drinking, smoking and other substance abuse but more often than not, these warnings have just the opposite effect. Kids start feeling pressurized and try to look for ways to lash out or rebel against their parents. Smoking or drinking starts seeming like excellent ideas to them and they underestimate that this may severely backfire on them and they might end up becoming addicted.

• To experiment: We have often heard that ‘drugs boost creativity’, this, is a lie. In fact alcohol/substance abuse causes just the opposite. It alters one’s thinking capacity and brain functions in such a way that they are unable to focus on anything other the need to get their high. As time passes, their tolerance increases and they start looking for new ways trying to get the euphoric feeling of being high. Most of the time this pulls a person deeper into the darkness of addiction. All this sucks a person dry of their logical thinking and also drains them of their creativity. Their experiment to get more creative backfires on them.

It is very easy for teenagers and young adults to get into the habit of alcohol/substance abuse without thinking about the long-term consequences. What we need to understand is that alcohol or drug dependency hampers one’s normal brain functions and they are unable to see and understand logic the way we do. Hence, it is imperative that we look out for the slightest signs and make sure that we always stay by their side whenever they need support. Fortunately, it is possible to get help at the right rehab and help your loved ones get their life back on track; all you need to do is be alert to the signs.