Getting Help for Heroin and Fentanyl Addiction
Overdose as a result of opioid use claims the lives of 128 people each day. Fentanyl and heroin are two of the most commonly abused drugs in the current opioid crisis. If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be suffering from heroin or fentanyl addiction, you are not alone.
Approximately 2.1 million people struggle with an opioid-use disorder.  Understanding the high risk of life-threatening side effects that these two substances carry is the first step toward a healthy life of recovery.
The Highly Addictive Nature of Heroin and Fentanyl
Both heroin and fentanyl are opioids; therefore, they affect the brain in similar ways. Opiate drugs mimic the brain’s natural opioids and eventually alter brain chemistry. Continued use of opiates disrupts the body’s ability to produce its own pleasure neurotransmitters, creating dependence on the drug for these feel-good chemicals.  The body craves the euphoric feeling it gets from heroin or fentanyl use. This quickly leads to physiological and physical addiction. With chronic use, individuals also develop increased tolerance of the substance and require more to elicit the same effect.
Withdrawal Symptoms from Heroin and Fentanyl
Those who become dependent or addicted to any substance experience withdrawal symptoms when they discontinue use. Opioids like heroin and fentanyl have particularly uncomfortable and dangerous withdrawal systems due to their powerful brain effects. Abruptly ceasing the drugs’ introduction to the system can cause severe depression, among other common withdrawal signs, including chills, nausea, abdominal pain, agitation, sweats, insomnia, racing heart rate, and seizures. A professional recovery center can aid in minimizing these withdrawal symptoms with a medically supervised detox. The emotional and medical support provided can make the withdrawal period as comfortable and safe as possible.
Physical Side Effects of Heroin and Fentanyl Use
Depending on the administration route, opioids use can have a variety of detrimental effects on the body. The physical side effects of continued heroin or fentanyl use include:
- Physical addiction and dependence
- Liver, kidney, and heart damage
- Increased risk of Hepatitis B & C, HIV, and other blood-borne diseases (from intravenous use)
- Changes in heart rate and respiratory rate
- Collapsed veins from intravenous use
- Rash or swelling at the site of transdermal patch application
- Damaged nasal tissues from snorting
- Death from heroin or fentanyl overdose
Risk of Overdose from Heroin or Fentanyl Use
Both heroin and fentanyl carry with them the dangerous risk of overdose. When using an unregulated substance, the additives that dealers may “cut” the drug with can have adverse effects on the user and result in an overdose. Additionally, with continuous use, users develop a tolerance and require more of the drug to feel the effects. High doses of heroin or fentanyl can cause very shallow or erratic breathing, leading to death. Unfortunately, opioids contributed to two out of every three overdose deaths in 2018, and the numbers continue to climb.
One can reverse a heroin or fentanyl overdose if immediate action is taken. A valuable drug called naloxone blocks the effects of opioids and has saved many lives. Someone must administer the naloxone within a brief window of time for it to be effective. Many people are not fortunate enough to receive this medication in time or at all. The only way to avoid the fatal risk of overdose is to begin the journey toward a life of recovery.
Break the Chains of Heroin and Fentanyl Addiction With Support
If you worry that you may be struggling with heroin or fentanyl addiction, you have the ability to reclaim your life. You can break the chains of addiction with the right support. Equipped with a knowledgeable specialist to guide you through the entire recovery process, Silver Sands Recovery knows that you are more than your addiction. Contact us today to take the first step toward the life you deserve.
About the author:
Lisa Waknin is the Founder and Director of Silver Sands Recovery, located in Prescott, Arizona. Lisa started Silver Sands Recovery after immersing herself in the addiction treatment world for several years to figure out what could be done differently to help her daughter and others like her to overcome addiction and stay sober. She believes in a hands-on treatment approach, which includes taking someone out of their environment, providing a 90-day program in a structured environment. During treatment, clients not only recover physically but also learn to live their life again. Lisa is a sought-after expert speaker for recovery support groups, charities, schools, communities, and companies wanting to educate themselves on the explosion of opiate and heroin abuse in our country and the best way to understand, treat, and beat it.