Heroin Addiction Treatment in Asheville
Heroin Abuse & Addiction in North Carolina
Heroin is a powerful opioid drug derived from morphine, a naturally occurring substance in the opium poppy plant. Due to its high potential for abuse, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified heroin as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. As such, it currently has no accepted medical uses in the United States.
Heroin is notoriously addictive. People who begin using heroin can quickly develop a dependency on the drug, which can lead to heroin abuse and addiction. Breaking this cycle can be extremely difficult—but there is hope. With professional treatment, it is possible to stop using heroin, heal broken relationships, and achieve long-term sobriety.
At Carolina Recovery Solutions, we offer attentive care and personalized heroin addiction treatment in Asheville and the surrounding areas. At our unique facility in the Appalachian Mountains, patients can receive the counseling and support they need while simultaneously disconnecting from triggers and the stresses of everyday life. Our team of licensed therapists, registered nurses, acupuncturists, on-site yoga instructors, and addiction specialists works tirelessly to provide a truly integrated approach to your recovery.
What Is Heroin?
Heroin is a highly addictive, rapidly acting substance that is chemically similar to morphine. It comes from the opium poppy plant commonly found in South America and parts of Asia and is known by numerous street names, including smack, black tar, big H, and thunder. It can appear in several forms; most commonly, it is a white powder, but it can also appear as a brown or sand-colored powder or a dark, sticky substance known as “black tar.”
Heroin is commonly injected, snorted, and smoked. Once ingested, it produces an almost immediate rush of euphoria, followed by a relatively prolonged state of alternated or blurred sleeping and wakefulness. Partly due to its rapid effect on the brain, heroin is extremely physically and psychologically addictive.
Over time, heroin has many negative effects on the body and the brain. It can quickly alter the brain’s chemical makeup, pathways, and processes, leading to significant behavioral changes.
It can also lead to numerous short- and long-term physical side effects, such as:
- Dry mouth
- Difficulty concentrating
- Flushed or warm-feeling skin
- Heaviness in the arms and legs
- Severe itching
- Brief, repeated loss of consciousness
- Damaged nasal tissue
- Collapsed veins
- Heart lining and valve infections
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Sexual dysfunction
When heroin is “cut,” or substituted, with other additives, such as sugar or starch, users may experience permanent damage due to clogging in the blood vessels. Heroin users who share drug paraphernalia, including needles, are also at a heightened risk of contracting various infectious diseases, including HIV and hepatitis.
Signs of a Heroin Overdose
Heroin has a high risk of overdose, which can be deadly. The risk of fatal complications increases when heroin is supplemented with foreign substances, which can clog blood vessels leading to the brain, liver, heart, and other areas of the body. Additionally, as heroin users develop an increased tolerance for the drug, they often begin using heroin in higher doses more often, which puts them at significant risk of overdosing.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 14,000 Americans died due to heroin-related drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2019. Although this represents a slight decrease in heroin-involved overdose fatalities (down 6% from the previous year), such deaths were still seven times more common in 2019 than they were 20 years earlier in 1999, and almost one-third of all opioid-related drug overdoses involved heroin that same year.
Some of the signs of heroin overdose include:
- Lack of consciousness
- Inability to speak
- Slowed, shallow, or erratic breathing
- Stopped breathing
- Blue-purple or gray-ashen skin tone
- Purple-black fingernails and/or lips
- Choking or “gurgling” sounds
- Very slow, erratic, or stopped heartbeat/pulse
Heroin overdose is a medical emergency. If someone is displaying any signs of an overdose, call 911 immediately. Most heroin overdose deaths do not occur right away, and it is possible to save the person’s life through intervening and immediate action.
How Is Heroin Addiction Treated?
Although the general effects of heroin are similar from person to person, addiction affects each unique individual differently. Because of this, our Asheville heroin addiction treatment team at Carolina Recovery Solutions offers a personalized, whole-person approach to recovery.
Most often, heroin addiction treatment involves some combination of the following:
- Medical Detox: For many people struggling with heroin addiction, suddenly stopping all heroin use is dangerous. Instead, it is advised that individuals undergo medical detox in a safe, supervised environment. Often, various medications can be used to ease some of the discomfort associated with heroin withdrawal.
- Intensive Outpatient Treatment: Intensive outpatient treatment allows patients to live at home and attend various therapies and treatments at our facility for several hours at a time, multiple days a week. This form of treatment is most appropriate for those who have completed residential rehab or who have less-serious addictions and have sufficient support at home.
- Treatment Therapies: Several forms of therapy have been proven to be highly effective in treating heroin addiction, managing triggers, and preventing relapse. These include behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management, as well as group therapy sessions and meetings.
- Medication-Assisted Treatment: Various medications, including naltrexone, methadone, and buprenorphine, have been proven effective in the treatment of heroin addiction and management of heroin withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, medication-assisted treatment, including a combination of medications, may be appropriate for patients navigating recovery.
- Aftercare: Often, after completing residential rehab and/or intensive outpatient treatment, patients can successfully reintegrate into their everyday lives. To help with this transition, we offer continued, ongoing support in the form of individual and group therapy, group meetings, check-ins, and other types of aftercare.
Heroin addiction is a complex disease. Effective treatment requires an integrated approach to overall physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. At Carolina Recovery Solutions, we address underlying trauma, cooccurring mental health disorders, environmental triggers, personal relationships, and other issues that all play a role in addiction and recovery. Our goal is to set up each and every one of our patients for success, as well as long-term sobriety and healing.