Heroin is a highly addictive drug notorious for its dangerous effects and painful withdrawal symptoms. As the opioid crisis in the United States takes hold, heroin use has risen as people look for cheaper, more accessible drugs. Consequently, overdoses are on the rise as well. When it comes to illicit substances, it’s impossible to know the exact quantity, quality and composition of the drug being ingested, leading unsuspecting users to overdose on high purity and fentanyl-laced heroin. In addition to causing fatal overdoses, use of the drug can also lead to a variety of health problems and put users at risk of contracting infectious diseases such as hepatitis or HIV.

At Journey Hillside Tarzana, we understand what’s at stake when it comes to heroin addiction. That’s why we offer premier-level treatment backed by clinical studies, scientific evidence and a high success rate. By utilizing a multidisciplinary approach, highly individualized services and an experienced team of addiction experts, we can help patients struggling with heroin use reclaim their freedom and discover a healthy, independent life without opioids.

Signs of Heroin Addiction

Heroin affects the brain in unique ways, so dependency, tolerance and addiction often set in quickly. Since heroin can be smoked, snorted or injected, the signs of use may differ depending on the preferred route of administration. The presence of paraphernalia is often evidence of heroin use, such as: burnt tin foil; needles and syringes; spoons and filters; cut straws, pens and other devices used for insufflation or smoke inhalation; and stamped baggies or torn balloons. You may also notice a number of other signs, including:

  • Small, pinpoint pupils
  • Alternating periods of consciousness and wakefulness (nodding off)
  • Mood swings
  • Track marks (bruises and scars) at injection sites
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Trouble at work or school
  • Unexplained weight fluctuations
  • Sudden financial problems
  • Decreased hygiene
  • Excessive itchiness

Although the signs and symptoms vary from person to person, the patterns of heroin abuse become more noticeable as the addiction worsens. If you suspect someone you care about is struggling with opioid use, it’s recommended that you seek the help of a professional to identify the problem. Beginning treatment as soon as possible for heroin addiction is essential to preserving an individual’s health, wellness and safety.

How Heroin Addiction Works

Heroin is a semi-synthetic opiate that binds to opioid receptors in the brain. These receptors are responsible for controlling pain, relaxation and more. Normally, your brain activates these receptors in response to painful stimuli, such as a broken bone or a bee sting. When we are injured, endorphins are released that bind to opioid receptors, reducing the sensation of pain and managing stress levels. When an individual consumes heroin, the brain is flooded with chemicals that mimic our body’s natural opioids, binding to the same receptors and blocking the electric impulses that signal pain. In addition to blocking pain, opioids also trigger additional effects such as euphoria, a general feeling of warmth and a sense of well-being. At the same time, side effects such as constipation and slowed respiration occur. Heroin’s effects on breathing can lead to a deadly overdose, slowing (or stopping) it enough to prevent the brain from receiving an adequate amount of oxygen. This can cause permanent brain damage, coma or death.

Opioids also trigger the release of dopamine in the brain’s reward centers. Your brain thinks that the source of this influx of dopamine is a highly rewarding, essential behavior, so it signals for you to repeat the experience. Over time, intense cravings develop that often lead to addiction. When opioids are used continuously, they also begin to affect the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Heroin decreases the activity of a group of neurons responsible for things like wakefulness, blood pressure, stress levels and more. These neurons still want to do their job, however, so they compensate for the dampening effects of heroin by increasing their level of activity. When opioids are present, they offset this heightened activity; when opioids aren’t present, the neurons continue to fire extensively and trigger uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, muscle cramps and diarrhea. It takes time for your brain to readjust to functioning without opioids and these symptoms usually persist for a week or more. The effects of withdrawal are what makes it so difficult to escape from the cycle of heroin abuse without professional intervention.

Heroin Addiction Treatment

At Journey Hillside Tarzana, our dedicated medical and addiction specialists are highly experienced in treating opioid-dependent individuals. Recovery from heroin addiction typically begins with detox, which gives the body time to remove traces of the drug and realign to a more balanced state. When patients arrive, we conduct a thorough assessment to identify the severity of an individual’s addiction and develop a customized treatment plan that will best meet their specific needs. During detox, we provide a number of treatments and therapies to keep patients comfortable throughout the withdrawal process. Our nursing staff and physicians will monitor patients on a 24/7 basis and closely coordinate care plans to ensure an optimal level of comfort and safety. Treatment plans will focus on symptom management and may include the use of medication-assisted treatment, individual or group therapy, mental health care and more.

After detox, patients will transition into residential care to begin the hard work of healing from addiction. We offer a full range of signature services, specialized programs and evidence-based treatments that go above and beyond industry standards to ensure each patient meets their recovery goals. Our multidisciplinary approach includes:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Holistic care
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Experiential therapies
  • 12-step methodology
  • Meditation and mindfulness
  • Physical fitness and exercise
  • Chemical dependency education
  • Family and alumni support

Our treatment practices and approaches are regularly updated to ensure that we are consistently providing the highest level of care possible. Furthermore, each patient receives a customized treatment plan tailored to their specific strengths. This helps us provide effective care and engage patients in an approach that resonates with them.

Contact Journey Hillside Tarzana

Recovering from addiction isn’t a journey you have to take alone. At Journey Hillside Tarzana, we are intimately familiar with the road ahead and will be there to support you every step of the way. Not only will you find the tools you need to overcome addiction, but you’ll also discover an oasis nestled in the hills of Los Angeles designed with your comfort in mind. Our facility provides the peace, serenity and privacy you need to take a step back from daily life and truly connect with the process of recovery. If you’re ready to learn more about our programs and how they can help, contact or call us today at 877-414-1024 and begin your journey today.

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