While prescription-based opioids, such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin, get most of the attention whenever the topic of opioids comes up, heroin, a street-level opioid, is just as potent and just as addictive. And this becomes abundantly clear when you look at heroin statistics in the U.S. According to a study published by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), more than 5 million Americans admitted to abusing heroin in 2015. The same study data also noted that between 2002 and 2015, overdose deaths involving heroin increased by more than six-fold.
Current Trends in Heroin Use in America
While most of the study data covering America’s heroin crisis is several years old, not too much has changed in recent years, according to a few slightly newer studies. And one of those studies comes from NIDA, which found that people are starting to abuse and become addicted to heroin at a much younger age.
According to researchers, an astounding 691,000 individuals aged 12 and older had a heroin use disorder in 2020. In 2022, another NIDA study found that 0.3% of 8th graders reported using heroin for the first time. And this is in addition to 0.2% and 0.3% of 10th and 12th graders, respectively, who admitted to doing the same.
What Makes Heroin So Addictive?
Unlike prescription opioids, few people become addicted to heroin after trying it only once or twice. It typically takes several uses and forming a steady habit before casual users become full-on addicts, according to several studies that looked at heroin addiction in America. When it comes to heroin, individuals develop an addiction when they develop a tolerance and start taking more and more of the drug to achieve a euphoric high.
Heroin is highly addictive because of the way it binds to mu-opioid receptors (MORs) in the brain whenever someone takes it. When heroin binds to MORs, the brain produces above-average amounts of a neurotransmitter known as dopamine, a “feel good” chemical responsible for the euphoric high that comes from using and abusing heroin.
Is There an Effective Way To Get Off Heroin?
While it might seem like everyone is perfectly content with abusing heroin and has little interest in ending their relationship with the illicit substance, available data shows that’s not quite the case. Many people are choosing to put their heroin use disorder behind them. Of course, doing so is not easy, and this is because abruptly quitting this powerful opioid can trigger a firestorm of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Some of the more notable ones include the following:
- Feelings of heaviness
- Intense cravings
- Muscle and bone pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Profuse sweating
- Severe muscle aches
For many people, these symptoms trigger a relapse. According to a study published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), relapse rates for heroin use disorders are around 78%. But some people can suddenly stop taking heroin without falling victim to difficult withdrawal symptoms. If they do encounter any, they tend to be more on the mild side. And this is possible thanks to medication-assisted detox.
Why Medication-assisted Detox in a Licensed Rehab Facility Is the Best Way To Get Off Heroin
Medication-assisted detox enables individuals to detox from heroin without experiencing pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other withdrawal symptoms that typically lead to relapse. Along with round-the-clock monitoring by a licensed physician or nurse, medication-assisted detox involves using prescription drugs that are FDA-approved to combat such withdrawal symptoms. Some of these drugs include the following:
Available data shows that these medications can significantly reduce an individual’s chances of relapsing by eliminating or easing symptoms resulting from the abrupt cessation of heroin.
In summary, seeking professional help from a licensed rehab facility and taking part in their medication-assisted detox program is the most effective and safest way to get off heroin. To learn more about the benefits of medication-assisted detox or to find a rehab facility in your area that offers such a program, consider speaking with one of our addiction experts today at 833-610-1174.