Heroin Abuse and Addiction Treatment in Charleston, West Virginia
Charleston is the capital city of West Virginia state. It has an estimated population of 50,821 people. The city has a median household income of $48,959 and an unemployment rate that is placed at 5%. While it boasts of having some of the best hotels and tourists attractions this city is dealing with a heroin abuse and addiction problem that is unlike the rest of the country. According to reports from top state agencies West Virginia leads the country when it comes to the rate of drug overdose deaths. An estimated 52 deaths out of 100,000 in this state are a result of drug overdose. While individuals in this region are using and abusing substances such as alcohol, marijuana and cocaine, the rate of heroin abuse is extremely high which is why it is regarded as a leading cause of addiction and deaths in the city.
Heroin is an illegal substance in West Virginia and the rest of the country. However, individuals continue using it in secret because of its immediate effects which include euphoria and relaxation. It is categorized as a schedule I controlled substance which means anyone found in possession risks beings jailed for a period of between 90 days and six months. Selling or dealing in heroin can land the culprit a jail term of between 1 to 15 years. Individuals that are found trafficking or transporting the substance within Charleston can be imprisoned for a period of 1 to 15 years as well.
While state authorities, religious organizations and learning institutions have set up a number of programs to curb the use of heroin the truth is that the problem still persists. There are teenagers and adults already addicted to heroin meaning they are unable to stop the habit on their own and must therefore get professional treatment. It is worth pointing out that over 23 million Americans above the age of 12 are addicted to drugs and alcohol. To put it in perspective 1 out of every 10 people is dealing with drug addiction in the country. Despite this alarming rate it is only 10 percent of these addicts that get professional treatment while the rest have to deal with the consequences of addiction.
Understanding Heroin and How it Affects Users
Heroin can also be referred to as diamorphine and is derived from the resin of poppy plants. It is commonly available in the form of a white or brown powder. In certain countries the substance can be prescribed by doctors with the intention of managing pain. In the United States the use of heroin is illegal. However, a lot of people continue using it as a recreational substance. They do this because of the immediate effects it offers to users. The substance can be taken by injecting into the veins after mixing with a liquid. It can also be taken by smoking, snorting or inhaling in the form of vapor. Individuals that take this substance experience a high within a few seconds to minutes depending on the method of intake. When high, users tend to feel euphoric and relaxed. The drug works on the part of the brain that is responsible for releasing pleasure hormones which is why most people feel happy after taking it. Users also feel like they are in a dream world where there are no problems. The euphoric effects of the drug last for a few hours after intake. As the hours go by individuals are likely to feel drowsy and have mental sluggishness. Other immediate effects of taking heroin include slurred speech, slowed walking or reaction time, slipping out of consciousness for a while, lethargy and reduced sensations of pain.
While most users take heroin for its short term pleasurable effects they are oblivious to the fact that this drug has some of the deadliest long term effects. Regardless of the method of intake the drug inevitably takes a toll on the user’s mental and psychological health. It is also part of the reasons why a lot of families in Charleston have broken up. Here are some of the consequences of taking heroin.
- Decreased dental health characterized by damaged teeth and gum swelling
- Increased risk of falling sick or experiencing frequent infections due to weakened immune system
- Most heroin users end up developing severe constipation
- Due to poor appetite individuals end up being malnourished
- Sleep problems such as insomnia and sleep disturbances are a common occurrence
- Sexual problems for both men and women
- Increased risk of infections such as HIV and hepatitis due to sharing of needles
- Financial problems because of inability to work
- Straining of family and other social relations due to unbecoming behavior such as lying, stealing and aggression
- Social isolation
- Extreme anxiety for individuals that use this drug for a prolonged time
- Extreme depression which may sometimes lead to suicidal tendencies
- Damage to internal organs including the brain, heart and liver
- Dependence and addiction
- Sudden death because of weakened organs or heroin overdose
- Onset of hallucinations and paranoia
- Mental decline making it difficult for heroin users to solve complex problems
What are some reasons why people abuse drugs in Charleston?
To deal with pain – because heroin has the effect of numbing pain some people may take it to deal with the pain they are going through. Such people may be suffering from chronic ailments that cause pain.
Curiosity – some people start using heroin simply because they are curious of how the substance can make them feel. The downside is that once they try it out and enjoy the experience they are likely to do it again.
To escape reality – individuals that are dealing with tough times financially, socially or academically may take heroin to calm their nerves and escape reality. Such people are known to take heroin repeatedly to keep them from facing reality.
Peer influence – for most young people taking heroin is a result of peer influence. Some teens take the drugs to appear cool while others do it to fit in with friends that are already using such drugs.
Past trauma – people that have gone through a traumatic experience may end up taking heroin to cope with the depression and stress that usually ensues. Things such as verbal abuse by parents, rape and physical assault by a close relative can be traumatic and may trigger drug use.
To feel good – some people take heroin to feel good. Such people use drugs when going out to party or hanging out with friends during the weekends. Their goal is to enjoy the experience that the drugs give.
Understanding the Process of Addiction
Having a closer look at how people become addicted to heroin can be key to understanding your own situation or that of a loved one.
This first stage involves initial interaction with heroin. People may learn about this drug in a variety of ways with some watching its effects playing out in a movie or listening to musicians singing about the drug. Some people may get to know about the drug through friends or close family members. At this stage people are reluctant when it comes to using the drug but their curiosity about it makes them want to know more about it.
At this point curiosity is at its highest making people want to try out the drug for themselves. For those who have close family members or friends who are already using heroin this stage is quite simple. They only have to approach their friend and have a try. Those who have an unpleasant experience may stop using the drug altogether. However, a majority of the people that try out heroin get to enjoy its pleasurable effects which is why they are likely to do it again.
- Regular use
During this stage users become comfortable with the use of the drug. They have already established connections that provide a reliable supply of the drug at a cost that is agreed upon. Users may take the drugs during weekends, holidays and at night when they want to feel relaxed. It is during this stage that close friends and family members may notice a change in the behavior of a user. Unfortunately most people ignore this stage believing that the user will eventually get tired of using the drug and stop.
- Risky use
At this stage users start going out of control when it comes to drug use. They increase the frequency of use and may even start sneaking some amount of drugs into school or workplace. They let their guard down making it easier for authorities to detect unusual activity. Another thing that takes place during this stage is that users start becoming tolerant to heroin. Their bodies no longer react in the same way as before. This makes it necessary for users to increase the amount of heroin they take or mix it up with another powerful substance in order to achieve the rush that they need. It is during this stage that most people end up overdosing on drugs and getting rushed to hospital.
Users that get to this stage start experiencing a myriad of complications. They cannot stay alert or focus on work unless they get a regular amount of the substance into their system. Their bodies have become too accustomed to heroin that failure to take some causes withdrawal effects. Here are some of the effects that may be experienced:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Cold chills
- Sleep disturbances and insomnia
- Abdominal pain
- Severe anxiety
- Self harm
- Dilated pupils
- Runny nose
- Teeth chattering
- Sensitivity to pain
- Mental confusion
Because of the gruelling experience of withdrawal most users continue taking the drug and this eventually leads to addiction. At this point users are said to be suffering from a disease of the body and mind. Not only do they experience severe withdrawal effects they also get to a point where their mind is unable to focus on anything else except drug use. Individuals that are addicted to heroin tend to have an uncontrollable craving for the drug. They keep using it regardless of the consequences that ensue.
Why do people not get addiction help?
It is saddening that only a handful of heroin addicts ever get professional help. Here are some of the reasons behind the failure to seek professional treatment.
Fear of the law – because heroin is an illegal drug most users and their loved ones fail to report the issue to health officials. Keep in mind that possession, use or trafficking of this drug can lead to years of imprisonment.
Fear of the addict – some family members may not be willing to report their loved one because of fear. The user may be an older member of the family who has become aggressive due to use of the drug. Seeking help for such a person may lead to confrontations.
Shame – some people are reluctant about seeking help because they are afraid of the shame they will have to glo through. They try as much as possible to ignore the problem just so that friends or neighbors will not look down upon them.
Denial – there are a lot of heroin users who are in denial about their problem. They think they can stop using the drug at anytime they want and yet that is not the case.
Poverty – individuals that are homeless or those who do not have a stable source of income may remain trapped in addiction because they are unable to afford the costs that are associated with treatment.
Ignorance – some people do not realize that addiction is a disease that requires professional help. They may even go ahead and consider their loved ones as being cursed. The truth is that once an individual is addicted to heroin he or she may never break the habit unless they get professional treatment.
Withdrawal effects – individuals that have tried to quit heroin use and experienced withdrawal effects may be apprehensive about going through the same experience again.
Signs of Heroin Use and Abuse
Being able to tell if a loved one is using heroin can be key to making proper intervention. Here are some of the tell tale signs for you to watch out for in case you are suspicious about a loved one’s activities.
- Dry mouth
- Flushed skin
- Unusual odor on clothing and breath
- Constricted pupils
- Secretive tendencies
- Sudden change of friends and hangout places
- Unexplained need for money
- Decline in grades at school
- Coming back home at odd hours including in the middle of the day or late at night
- Slurred speech
- Slowed reaction time and impaired walking
- Stealing and lying to get money
- Deterioration in personal hygiene and grooming
- Unusual sleep patterns such as falling asleep in the middle of the day
Treatment for Addiction
If you are dealing with addiction or know of someone that is battling the condition the most important thing to keep in mind is that it is necessary to get professional help. Addiction is a condition that cripples the individual’s ability to make decisions and stick to them. One minute you may think you have quite and before you know it you are using heroin again. Here are some of the things involved in getting help.
Intervention – this refers to a process in which a loved one seeks help on behalf of the heroin user. Approaching a local health worker, religious or community leader is a good way to get assistance. Calling a drug addiction hotline is another way to get information on intervention.
Assessment – during this stage a professional doctor or health worker will analyze the situation and provide guidance on what must be done for the heroin user to recover. Assessment may involve taking of medical history, recording details of the issues surrounding addiction among other personal details.
Intake – at this point a doctor has determined that the patient requires elaborate treatment and is therefore enrolled to a relevant treatment program. Treatment may be done under an inpatient or outpatient setup depending on the severity of the addiction.
What kind of things take place during addiction treatment?
Detox – detox refers to the process of removing the substance from the body. At this point doctors carry out certain procedures to help the body adjust to not having heroin in the system. The use of medications such as methadone and buprenorphine may help manage the severity of withdrawal. Ensuring that the patient adheres to a strict diet may also speed up the process of detoxification.
Medication for co-occurring conditions – because opioid addicts tend to suffer from a variety of other conditions including infections, doctors may prescribe medicine to deal with these co-occurring conditions.
Nutritional nourishment – a lot of heroin addicts suffer from malnutrition which is why doctors are likely to recommend a particular diet to help in better nourishment going forward.
Physical therapy – to ensure that the patient regains health caregivers incorporate exercise to the daily routine of patients. This is key to building stronger muscles and bones. Physical therapy in the form of massage can help relieve the patient of pain and stress. Aided movements can form part of the comprehensive treatment plan for people who have lost physical abilities.
Management of withdrawal – during detoxification patients go through an uncomfortable experience. Caregivers provide medications that help in reducing the intensity of withdrawal effects. Patients are also given psychological and moral support while going through the unpleasant phase.
Behavioral therapy – this is done to give patients the necessary knowledge to identify dangerous thought patterns and how to deal with stressful situations that are bound to come. This type of therapy allows the patient to modify expectations and behaviors related to drug use.
Counselling – talks between a professional counselor and patients is key to resolving past trauma that may be triggering drug use. Counselling allows patients to come to terms with the realities surrounding drug use including consequences to self and to loved ones.
Support groups – patients are encouraged to join support groups that enable them make progress during treatment and afterwards. Support groups are formed by people dealing with similar experiences. Such groups allow members to share their experiences and how they have managed to cope with the challenges they face.
Choosing a Rehab for Addiction Treatment
Picking the right rehabilitation center is an important step toward making progress and full recovery. There are quite a number of facilities to choose from which is why it may be a confusing issue. Use the following details to make the right decision.
The costs – the total amount of money you are required to pay should be among the things you keep in mind. Avoid facilities that are too expensive to afford and instead opt for the ones that offer treatment at a rate that you can manage.
Specialty – there are certain facilities that treat just about any type of addiction. There are also a few that specialize in treatment of opioid addiction. Pick a facility that seems to offer the best solutions to the problems the patient is dealing with.
Treatment programs – before enrolling to any facility find out the details involved in treatment. The rehabilitation facility you pick should offer personalized treatment solutions to patients. It should have a definite timeline for start and completion of treatment. Service should also include aftercare which ensures that patients remain drug free after recovery.
Reputation – carry out some research to find out about what people have to say regarding the rehabilitation facilities offering treatment in Charleston. Avoid facilities that elicit negative feedback and instead opt for the ones that have earned the respect of a majority of people.
License and certification – treatment centers that have been certified by relevant authorities should be on top of your list. The center you pick must have caregivers that are highly qualified to deal with addiction related issues. Ensure that the rehabilitation facility you pick holds a valid license for operations.