The battle against opioid addiction in America is being fought every day, and many are fighting hard to create more opportunities for treatment and recovery. With more awareness being raised across the country, many are turning to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) methods as a way to address illicit opioid abuse and overdose. One of the most commonly known medications used in MAT is Suboxone.
MAT programs can be very helpful as a harm reduction strategy that gives people struggling with addiction a chance to avoid harmful withdrawals. However, addiction specialists also recognize that MAT alone is not an adequate substitute for comprehensive addiction treatment.
Furthermore, medications like Suboxone can be useful, but only to an extent. This drug may help to curb withdrawal symptoms from opioids like heroin or prescription painkillers, but it is also a powerful narcotic that can cause its own symptoms of dependence and withdrawal. Some people have tried to utilize Suboxone to get off of other drugs, only to find themselves dependent on this medication. So how do you stop using Suboxone?
More About Suboxone
Suboxone is a medication primarily for helping people stop using other opioids. The medication is a combination of two drugs:
Most people do not realize that Buprenorphine is itself an opioid. This semi-synthetic opioid medication is different from other opioids because it is a partial opioid agonist. What this means is that its maximal effects are less than full agonists such as heroin or methadone.
However, it still creates feelings of euphoria and respiratory depression. With chronic use, this opioid can still cause physical dependence.
This medication is used to block the effects of opioids, especially when it comes to opioid overdose. It is added to the Buprenorphine to attempt to decrease the risk of misuse. Due to the nature of this medication, if someone takes Naloxone while still experiencing the effects of an opioid it can cause them to go into sudden withdrawal.
The makers of Suboxone do warn that it can be abused in a manner similar to other opioids, both legal and illicit. They issue a number of other warnings for those considering using the medication, including:
- Injecting Suboxone may cause serious withdrawal symptoms.
- Suboxone film can cause serious, life-threatening breathing problems, overdose and death, particularly when taken intravenously in combination with benzodiazepines or other medications that act on the central nervous system.
- One should not drink alcohol while taking this medication, as it can lead to unconsciousness or even death.
Some of the adverse effects of Suboxone use include:
- Numb mouth
- Painful tongue
- Redness of mouth
- Disturbance in attention
- Irregular heartbeat
- Sleep problems
- Blurred vision
- Back pain
These are only a few examples. Some circumstances may lead to further complications, including someone being pregnant or living with severe hepatic impairment. You should discuss any decision you make to start or stop using Suboxone with a healthcare professional.
5 Steps to Stop Using Suboxone
Speak with a medical professional
If you have a Suboxone prescription, do not stop taking it without speaking to a healthcare professional first. Abruptly discontinuing a MAT program can not only cause you a great deal of discomfort, but it can be very dangerous. Trying to quit without medical assistance also creates the risk of relapse and overdose.
This is why safe medical Suboxone detox is such an important element of any addiction treatment program.
Before you decide to stop using Suboxone, speak with your personal physician or a medical addiction specialist in order to decide what is the safest and most effective way to move forward.
Taper vs Cold Turkey
When someone goes ‘cold turkey’ to stop using Suboxone, they essentially discontinue without any kind of medical support. Again, we remind you that this can be extremely dangerous and is always counterproductive. A better choice is to develop a plan with a medical professional that utilizes a gradual taper or even medications to assist with withdrawals.
Health experts recommend gradually reducing doses of buprenorphine. Typically, you can lower your dosage over a period of three weeks or more, reducing the doses by 10%-20% each week. The best way to decide how to do this is by working with a medical professional.
Get comprehensive addiction therapy
Another crucial aspect of addiction treatment is the opportunity for comprehensive addiction therapy. Individuals have a much better chance to stop using Suboxone for the long-term when they address the underlying issues that lead them to use opioids in the first place. Sometimes, drug use stems from emotional issues, trauma, or behaviors that are self-destructive. When people avoid addressing these issues, they become vulnerable to relapsing as a means to cope with them later.
Therapy not only helps people uncover the root cause of their pain, but it also teaches people new, healthy ways to cope with these issues.
Build a support group in recovery
Once someone has started the recovery process, a huge part of staying on the right path is to build a support group. It is very difficult to try and stop using Suboxone or any other drug all on your own. Having friends, family or mentors provides people with the resources to reach out to when they are struggling.
When trying to overcome addiction, it can be difficult for some to relate to people who do not understand addiction. Thankfully, there are support groups all over the country that offer assistance to each other while dealing with a specific issue. Most people know of 12-Step programs and other support groups for alcohol or drug addiction.
Participate in aftercare programs
Another useful element of treatment is aftercare. While support groups are extremely helpful, another way to stay involved in the ongoing process of addiction recovery is to get involved in aftercare programs. Many treatment providers will have programs in place to support those who have completed the inpatient levels of care, such as residential treatment, and are ready to transition back into everyday life.
When you stop using Suboxone, it is a good idea to stay connected with those who can offer support and guidance.
When a lot of people hear about medication-assisted treatment, they think it is an easy way out of addiction. Some people automatically assume that you can trade an addiction to heroin or Oxycodone for a dependence on Suboxone or another drug and everything will be fine. However, with MAT programs the goal should never be to rely on a medication for the long-term.
Medication-assisted treatment does make a difference. For some people, the fear of withdrawal symptoms keeps them using far more potent and dangerous drugs. Because they do not want to experience the pain, they keep using. Sometimes, this leads to death. So giving someone the chance to reduce the risk by using a prescription medication might keep them alive long enough to get treatment. But that is the important thing- to get the treatment.
Medications like Methadone and Suboxone are only supposed to be one piece of a more comprehensive treatment plan. They are intended to act as a short-term tool to help people ease their discomfort and avoid suffering while they try to give up drugs. MAT programs are only really effective when they are accompanied by therapy and other means of treatment. So if you want to stop using Suboxone and start recovering, seek out a rehab program that wants to help you heal.
Holistic addiction treatment is specifically designed to treat the entire person, not just the addiction. This kind of approach offers a variety of opportunities to develop new coping skills, learn more about addiction and the impact of drugs on the body, and experience innovative treatment modalities to heal the mind, body and spirit. For over 20 years, Palm Healthcare Company has been a leader in providing holistic addiction treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
8 months ago, Florida was home to 953 licensed drug treatment centers, and 207 were in Palm Beach County. As of April 1, there are now 185 in Palm Beach, with 771 in the whole state. This decrease is due to the crackdown on fraud by Palm Beach State Attorney’s Office, which has led to 45 arrests in the last year and a half. So far, those arrests have led to 16 convictions. For State Attorney Dave Aronberg there is no sign of slowing down.
Recently, Dave Aronberg spoke with Opioid Watch to talk about the work his office has been doing to try and strengthen the addiction treatment industry. Chief Assistant State Attorney Alan Johnson also sat down to talk about how Palm Beach County is fighting to protect those who are coming to Florida for help. Johnson heads the office’s Sober Homes Task Force.
Dave Aronberg VS Purdue Pharma
According to Aronberg, he got involved with opioid-related issues back in 2001, when he was an assistant attorney general. Aronberg says he was asked by his boss, Bob Butterworth, to investigate Purdue Pharma. This Big Pharma giant is the producer of OxyContin. This powerful prescription opioid has been credited with making a heavy contribution to the opioid crisis. Dave Aronberg was to examine the marketing practices of Purdue Pharma, and is quoted in the interview transcript stating:
“I believe we were one of the first in the country.”
Of course, now Purdue Pharma is one of many big name pharmaceutical companies being accused in lawsuits across America. In fact, Delray Beach, Florida recently filed its own case against the company.
When asked about what he found, Aronberg said that Purdue was marketing the product like it was Advil. Purdue has been repeatedly accused of pushing this product as if it was far less dangerous than it actually was. In 2002, Dave Aronberg was elected to state senate, and shortly afterward the case against Purdue was settled. In the edited interview transcript, Aronberg is quoted:
“Purdue also offered $2 million to the state to establish its first prescription drug monitoring program. I worked in the state senate to get the PDMP enacted into law. But some conservatives refused to go along. They thought it was Big Government. So Purdue’s $2 million went away, because the offer expired. We didn’t get the PDMP till 2011. By then the carnage was horrific.”
Furthermore, Opioid Watch notes that a Purdue spokesperson confirmed that the state failed to implement a PDMP by July 1, 2004, which was the expiration of the companies offer.
Dave Aronberg Goes to Congress
In December of 2017, Aronberg went in front of Congress to testify concerning fraud and abuse in the addiction treatment industry. In this meeting, they discussed various issues with shady facility operators in Florida and made suggestions on how the law could step in to change it and protect patients. The interview transcript quotes Aronberg:
“In recent years, we’ve had an influx of unscrupulous operators who enrich themselves by exploiting those in recovery. As a consequence, we’re attracting thousands of young people from throughout the country into fraudulent rehab centers. (We’re talking about some, not all. There are good rehab centers, too.)”
Again, Aronberg found himself at battle with shady marketing practices. While investigating the treatment industry, Aronberg’s office discovered illegal operations that not only manipulated insurance providers but put patients at extreme risk.
From patient brokering, where illicit actors would sell patients with insurance to the highest bidders, to illegal kickback schemes being run by sober homes to outpatient treatment programs. Chief Assistant State Attorney Alan Johnson added information about the exploitation of urine analysis costs, and even some programs that began billing insurers for allergy and DNA testing. Aronberg states:
“We have a doctor who billed $7 million in nine months for allergy tests.”
Needless to say, the task force and state officials had their work cut out for them.
The ACA, ADA, and FHA
When talking about the many scams being run by various illegitimate businesses, the conversation came back to insurance and how these cons run. Here Dave Aronberg talks about his beliefs on how the law should step in and help restructure the current system.
“Number one: Change the Affordable Care Act’s fee reimbursement model to an outcome-based reimbursement model. Where the good providers are rewarded and the bad ones are paid less. Right now, the opposite occurs, so the more times you fail, the more money you get. There’s an incentive for more services and for more relapse. That shouldn’t be.”
After talking about the issues with the ACA, he talked about the ADA and FHA.
“The second change we need is this: the Americans with Disabilities Act and Federal Housing Act have been misused and exploited by bad actors who own flophouses.”
He went on to say,
“Local governments are largely prohibited from overseeing the sober home industry. If they want to require mandatory inspections, certifications, and registrations, they’re likely prohibited under federal law.”
In essence, Aronberg believes the law should allow local governments to create their own guidelines for health, safety and the general welfare of the patients. None of these demands seems outlandish, and with reasonable regulation, the reputable and effective providers in this industry can continue to best serve the South Florida recovery community.
Aronberg also points out that the problem is not only in Florida. Recently, he went to Orange County, California to meet with officials dealing with the same situation. Next for Dave Aronberg is leading the national task force of 34 prosecutors in 30 states. Their goal is to produce a working paper for setting best practices for prosecutors all over America concerning these issues. The task force also intends to make suggestions for changes to federal and state laws.
What might be most surprising though is the mention of harm reduction strategies?
“It’s about prevention, drug treatment, and innovative strategies. I think it will be powerful because it’s going to be prosecutors talking about needle exchanges and disposal and safe injection sites. People assume prosecutors are going to be focusing only on mandatory minimums and longer sentences. That’s not what this is about. I think it’s going to surprise people.”
While needle exchanges and safe injection sites have been proposed in numerous states, it is not the most popular idea. San Francisco is actually on track to open the first safe injection site in America, with Philadelphia not far behind, and Seattle and Baltimore in the conversation as well.
With Aronberg and the task force working to make a difference, hopefully, we will see the right change soon. We hope it will make the recovery community stronger as a whole. Reputable and respected providers are also doing their part to refine their practices while implementing innovative and effective resources to ensure that those who with drug or alcohol addiction always have a safe place in Palm Beach County to get the help they need. With the opioid crisis ongoing, having real resources for opioid treatment is still an essential part of overcoming the problem.
Palm Healthcare Company is a leader in holistic addiction treatment with over 20 years of helping people from all over the country heal mind, body and spirit. Providing safe and comprehensive care should always be a focus in the effort to overcome the drug problem, and preservation of life should always be a priority. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
Support for Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) has continued to grow in recent years as the opioid epidemic in America has put a mounting strain on the country. While the numbers of overdoses and opioid-related deaths have steadily climbed to devastating heights there has been more effort to explore treatment options. A better understanding of the medical and mental health aspects of addiction has become a priority. Stigma has slowly begun to carry less weight while advocates push for more effective and supportive routes to care for recovering addicts. One thing people have turned to heavily is medications like Suboxone of Methadone in attempts to steer away from more illicit and dangerous substances like heroin or fentanyl.
The application of medication in treatment can be very useful. It is a strategy that can help with the preservation of life by helping people stay off more unpredictable and life-threatening substances. However, some would say that if used for long-term this form of treatment is still relying on the idea of substitution. Often times these drugs have their own very harsh withdrawal symptoms, especially with extended use.
Taking a look at the more popular drugs used for medication-assisted treatment, one may ask- can you quit medication-assisted treatment with no withdrawals?
Understanding Medication-Assisted Treatment
Medication Assisted Treatment is the use of anti-craving medications to try and help address issues related to drug dependence, withdrawal, and relapse. The more common medications used in MAT include:
But MAT is also utilized alongside comprehensive therapy and other forms of support. Experts and advocates for addiction recovery, including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), insist that maintenance medications alone are not sufficient enough treatment.
Advocates for medication-assisted treatment will compare MAT to someone taking medication for diabetes or asthma, with the belief that maintenance drugs are an essential part of staying healthy. However, others in the world of addiction recovery still believe it is possible to be healthy in recovery without the prolonged use of powerful medications.
The truth is the answer may not be the same for everybody. Different treatments may be more useful for different people. No one should be ashamed of the method they use to get help. But we also want to look at how some drugs used in medication-assisted treatment might make things more complicated for certain people.
Looking at the most popular maintenance drugs for opioid addiction, of course, we find Suboxone. To better understand Suboxone withdrawals, we first have to know what it is. This popular brand name is used to identify a prescription medication that contains active ingredients:
- Buprenorphine- a narcotic opioid medication
- Naloxone– an opioid blocker that impedes the effect of opioid medications
This medication functions as a partial opioid agonist and diminishes cravings as well as prevents other opioids from reacting to the brain’s opioid receptors. Taken in low doses for short periods of time, the drug can be helpful in curbing opioid withdrawal symptoms while tapering off without too many residual effects.
The tricky part comes when someone uses Suboxone for an extended amount of time as a replacement for heroin or other opioids.
Sometimes this can lead to its own form of recreational use and physical dependence. Even the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reports that Suboxone is commonly susceptible to abuse. It is still a powerful drug.
Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms
While Suboxone and other maintenance drugs may be a preferred tactic for going ‘cold turkey’ off of heroin or other opioids, the drug itself still has the power to cause its own set of withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can include:
- Irritability or agitation
- Difficulty sleeping
- Profuse sweating
- Runny nose
- Frequent yawning
- Stomach pain or cramping
- Dilated pupils
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in mood
Not to mention precipitated withdrawal, when the ingredients in this medication can actually induce the onset of unpleasant symptoms rapidly, if not immediately, for someone actively engaged in opioid use.
Methadone is a long-acting opioid medication utilized since the 1970s to try and help people get off of heroin. It is typically used today under strict medical supervision because the drug is very potent and has a high risk of addiction. In fact, a 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that approximately 2.46 million people reported to using methadone for a non-prescribed purpose at least once.
According to another study, in 2009 methadone was responsible for 1 out of every 3 opioid overdose deaths.
Because of the risks, a gradual taper should be utilized to wean someone off of methadone. Often times doctors will prescribe another detox medication to help with this process, with the tapering to be done under medical supervision.
But as with trying to quit heroin or other powerful opioids ‘cold turkey’, trying to abruptly discontinue methadone can bring on intense withdrawal. This includes physical and psychological symptoms such as:
- Runny nose
- Tearing or watery eyes
- Muscle aches
- Joint pain
- Abdominal cramps
Many of these symptoms are similar to the symptoms of withdrawing from heroin or other opioids. So in a sense, this drug can create similar withdrawal symptoms as the drugs it is supposed to be used to treat.
Quitting Medication Assisted Treatment
Is it possible to quit medication-assisted treatment- yes, there are always other options for getting comprehensive care and lasting recovery without the prolonged use of these medications. Even relapse prevention is possible without relying on medications to fight cravings.
Can you quit medication-assisted treatment with no withdrawals? Well, that may be a process. It depends on a number of factors, such as the specific maintenance medication and the length of time using it. For example, someone who has been using methadone for years could probably have a much harder time getting off methadone than someone who used another medication for a month or so to help get off opioids.
Safety is crucial when deciding to quit MAT. Quitting medication-assisted treatment without a taper or other forms of medication can cause intense withdrawals. It is not suggested that someone try to quit MAT ‘cold turkey’ or without consulting a doctor for help with changing the dosage and slowly tapering off the drugs.
Again, just because it isn’t heroin or fentanyl doesn’t make it harmless.
MAT or Detox?
Medication-assisted treatment holds a lot of value, but the question becomes whether or not it is the kind of sustainable solution you want. Recovery isn’t one-size-fits-all. Medication-assisted treatment can be helpful in saving someone’s life who cannot stop using drugs. But is it something that will completely eliminate cravings and withdrawals, or will it just postpone these symptoms?
Remember, these are still powerful narcotic drugs that have a high risk for abuse. Some people end up using medication maintenance for life. Others will use it for a short period of time, with a detox period afterward. Either way, it is your choice; how long do you want to rely on substances, and to what extent?
Other models believe in providing holistic treatment and personalized therapy after a detox period, helping to reduce and remove chemical dependence and build a foundation for personal recovery.
Using medication to help with the painful and often overwhelming symptoms of withdrawal from opioids and other drugs can be essential to a smooth and healthy transition. In fact, with a safe medical detox, each individual is given an initial assessment to see what medications will be helpful in making this phase of treatment comfortable and safe. This can include medications for anxiety, mood disorders, physical pains and various other side-effects of substance abuse.
And when it comes to some of these medications, it can sometimes be necessary to continue using them.
The biggest difference is whether narcotic maintenance medications like Suboxone or methadone become a long-term prerequisite to recovery, or if they are used to help someone who is sick get better so that the real healing can happen.
Palm Healthcare Company believes in providing a safe medical detox to allow for a comfortable and healthy transition from active drug or alcohol use. Our facilities utilize an experienced and professional medical staff who help to monitor each individual’s progress and provide effective medical support for lasting recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Palm Healthcare knows the importance of addressing the multi-faceted needs of the individual who suffers from chronic pain. This is why we created the Pain Recovery Program. A person in pain is not only concerned about reclaiming their own sense of well-being and functioning. They are also concerned about reclaiming their sense of purpose, independence, and direction to life.
Palm Healthcare Pain Recovery Program
The focus of the Pain Recovery Program is assisting that person in pain in reclaiming all aspects of their life. Palm Healthcare utilizes a comprehensive bio-psychosocial perspective while incorporating the latest holistic, traditional, and state of the art, non-invasive technology and interventions.
Individuals participating in The Pain Recovery Program are provided a variety of treatment options that include:
- Medication management
- Nutraceutical (vitamin) therapy
- Physical therapy
- Strength and conditioning
- Muscle manipulation therapy
- Chiropractic care
- Aquatic therapy
Each person in The Pain Recovery Program will receive a personalized treatment plan based on comprehensive evaluations and the specific needs of the individual and their specific needs.
Connecting Pain and Addiction
Part of overcoming pain while overcoming addiction is understanding how the two are so closely related. Patients who are struggling with one or both of these conditions often report adverse symptoms such as:
Chronic pain and substance use disorder (SUD) have similar physical, social, emotional, and economic effects on health and well-being; one can easily be confused for the other, while both can exacerbate each other.
Pain in the Brain
Chronic pain and addiction actually have many of the same exact neurophysiological patterns.
For instance: Chronis pain involves abnormal neural processing. Coincidentally, addiction results when normal neural processes are altered into dysfunctional patterns, including disruptions in:
The truth is, there is still a lot to learn about both of these conditions, including patterns of severity, the course of development and responses to treatment.
Gauging and effectively addressing emotional responses is also crucial to effective and lasting pain treatment.
Pain and Emotions
Continued pain can also cause emotional responses, such as:
- Depressive symptoms
Each of these experiences can even turn into more pain. Even after these psychological causes have been addressed the feedback effect can still cause pain in the body.
In fact, there are many studies that indicate pain treatment has worse outcomes when depression is a factor. Some experts say you can even predict how a pain syndrome will evolve based on the emotional status of the patient.
Emotions and SUD
With substance use disorder, the individual’s emotional state is a core cause of continuous drug use. People who use drugs often experience these same emotional responses like anxiety and depression as a result of isolation, social and professional hardships and other side-effects of their drug use. Not to mention the way certain drugs impact the brain. Emotional and psychological trauma can be just as severe for these individuals as physical trauma.
On the other hand, some people may already have a history of experiencing these emotional difficulties and actually be trying to treat themselves by abusing drugs. This feeds into the cycle of emotional distress and substance use.
Both addiction and chronic pain fluctuate in intensity with time under different circumstances. Depending on what is going on in someone’s life, their pain may get worse or seem to disappear, just like an addiction may seem controllable for a time before hitting another harsh bottom.
Both often require ongoing management. But the difficulty can also be that these two conditions feed into each other in a very complicated, and at times toxic, relationship.
Treatment for one can either support or conflict with the other.
The Painful Cycle of Addiction
One of the many difficulties many people experience when trying to overcome addiction while struggling with chronic pain syndrome is that there is a cycle of pain- drugs- more pain- more drugs that seems inescapable.
For example- Narcotic medication typically prescribed for chronic pain may be an issue for someone with a history of substance use disorder.
But then if someone uses a narcotic prescription pain medication, such as opioid analgesics, it can create a physical dependence. Then when the substance is absent from the body the withdrawal symptoms set in.
Withdrawal and Pain
Withdrawal symptoms frequently lead to an increase in symptoms of anxiety and depression, while creating even more physical pain. In turn, the anxiety and depression from withdrawal can contribute to that pain even further.
This pain and distress can provoke a severe obsession with whatever substance the individual was relying on to provide relief. In other words, the individual will crave the drug even more because they are not only experiencing the psychological distress from their brain lacking the drug, they are also experiencing a magnified sense of pain from the experience as well.
Again, the cycle of pain- seeking relief from the pain through substances- recurring pain- continued substance use making the problem worse. The Pain Recovery Program is about interupting this self-destructive cycle with new, sustainable methods of pain management.
The Importance of Treating Pain and Addiction
Substance use disorder in relation to prescription pain medication is widely misunderstood, and while some programs focus on treating the addiction, if there is no way of addressing the chronic pain it does not help the chances of successful recovery. Part of working with chronic pain patients struggling with addiction is education on both conditions while providing effective treatment opportunities simultaneously.
Providing pain management opportunities for the U.S. population struggling with substance use disorder is a unique challenge for many primary care physicians. That is why experienced professionals in the field of drug and alcohol addiction treatment are in a unique position to help.
First, we need to acknowledge a few issues, including:
- People recovering from addiction experiencing pain are less likely to receive adequate pain management than anyone else.
- Insufficient pain relief is a substantial risk factor for possible relapse into substance use.
- It is crucial to distinguishing between patients who are seeking relief for legitimate pain and those who are seeking pain medication for recreational abuse
- Psychiatric and medical illnesses can complicate effective pain management
Experts believe that addiction specialists, in particular, can make significant contributions to the management of chronic pain in patients who suffer from substance use disorder. Addiction specialists can:
- Help create safeguards to assure any pain medication is taken appropriately
- Reinforce behavioral and self-care components of pain management
- Help individuals with strategies to reduce stress
- Assess patients’ recovery support systems
- Help to understand and identify relapse risks
Chronic pain management can be a complex process. Experts say that the efficiency of treatment is amplified when all medical and behavioral healthcare professionals involved collaborate as a team. Palm Healthcare Company’s Pain Recovery Program is all about a united effort toward treating both conditions with a variety of experienced professionals and trainers.
Considering how urgent the addiction epidemic is, and the fact that many people struggling with addiction do suffer from chronic pain, it is so important to have programs like this available. Education, support and relapse prevention is the key. If your or someone you love is struggling with substance use disorder and chronic pain, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
For many who have struggled with substance abuse it comes as no surprise that a link can be drawn between their drug or alcohol use and their mental health. A lot of people who struggle with addiction have experienced some form of emotional distress, trauma or abuse that has made a definite impact on their lives. While this may not be the sole reason behind their use, issues concerning mental health can contribute to drug or alcohol use in a dramatic way. With heroin and depression, the two tend to feed off of one another, creating an intense and deeper connection.
Depression is a very common but also very serious mood disorder, also referred to as:
- Major depressive disorder
- Clinical depression
This mental health condition causes a variety of symptoms that impact how an individual thinks, feels, and handles their day to day lives. A depression diagnosis depends on symptoms being present for at least two weeks, and some forms of depression will differ, or develop under unique circumstances. Some specific forms of depression include:
Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)
This is a depressed mood lasting for at least two years. Sometimes the episodes of major depression is experienced in periods of less severe symptoms, but still the symptoms persist for two years or more.
This is pretty straight forward. It happens when someone experiences severe depression along with some form of psychosis, such as:
These psychotic symptoms typically revolve around a particular depressive subject like guilt, poverty or illness.
Seasonal Affective Depression
This is the onset of depressive symptoms during winter months when there is less natural sunlight, which is why some call it ‘winter depression’. It is commonly characterized by:
- Social withdrawal
- Increase in sleep
- Weight gain
This depression typically disappears during spring and summer months as better weather returns, but comes back around every year.
Many women experience relatively mild depressive and anxiety symptoms after delivery, usually only lasting around two weeks. However, perinatal depression is much more serious.
Mothers with perinatal depression experience full-blown major depression during pregnancy or after delivery, commonly known as postpartum depression. Feelings that accompany perinatal depression include:
These can make it difficult for new mothers to complete daily care activities for themselves and/or for their babies.
While bipolar disorder is technically different from depression, individuals with bipolar disorder do experience episodes of intensely low moods that qualify as major depression- referred to as ‘bipolar depression’.
However, someone with bipolar disorder also experiences extreme high moods, either irritable or euphoric in nature. These moods are also called ‘mania’, or the less intense with are called ‘hypomania’. This is why bipolar disorder was once called ‘manic depressive disorder’.
Beyond these five there are other forms of depression, and symptoms of depression may vary from person to person. But for most people with depression the symptoms they do experience are consistent on an almost daily basis.
Psychology of Heroin
For those who don’t know, heroin is a synthetic drug produced from morphine. Morphine is a powerful analgesic derived from the opium poppy plant. The effects of heroin are a result of the substance binding with receptors in the brain that respond to opiates. Once ingested, heroin converts to morphine in the brain, and this potent compound effects the brain in ways that influence psychology.
Morphine slows the neurological activity in the brain, creating sedation. This sedation creates the desired effect of many heroin users, which is the sense of profound relaxation.
Yet, the National Alliance on Mental Illness warns that people with psychiatric disorders (such as depression) are more likely to experience very negative side-effects. So while people with depression may try to use heroin to numb themselves to feelings of sadness, guilt or despair, they actually create a chemical reaction in the brain that exacerbates their depressive symptoms.
Heroin and Depression
Heroin and depression have a symbiotic relationship that creates a viscous cycle. The two fuel each other. An individual may use heroin to try and escape their depressive feelings, but using heroin frequently worsens symptoms such as:
Thus these feelings make the depression worse, the individual will use more heroin to escape, and the cycle continues.
With heroin and depression, the physical consequences of heroin use can also cause severe emotional distress. Physical effects of heroin that can increase feelings of depression include:
- Respiratory illness
- Blood-borne disease
- Muscular weakness
- Vascular damage
And heroin’s impact on an individual’s personal life can make depression even worse, such as:
- Financial problems
- Job loss
- Legal trouble
- Relationship issues
Again, these issues can cause a heroin user to abuse the drug more in order to cope with these difficulties, which continues to feed into their problems and exacerbate the issues even more.
Withdrawal from Heroin and Depression
Withdrawal from heroin is one of the typical reasons that many people trying to quit the drug are unsuccessful. These unpleasant side effects of not having the drug often pushes people trying to give up heroin back to the drug just to feel relief, and for those with depression the withdrawals from heroin can seem even more relentless.
Trying to abruptly discontinue heroin use without the help of medical detox will cause uncomfortable and sometimes extremely painful symptoms such as:
- Intense cravings
- Involuntary leg movement
- Muscle pain
- Sleeping problems
- Runny nose
- Stomach Pain
Heavy use over an extended period can also lead to seizures. But while the physical withdrawal symptoms are already pretty bad, the psychological side effects can seem impossible to overcome, especially for someone with depression or other mental health issues.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Heroin and Depression
One of the most critical parts of treatment for heroin users with depression is to find the root cause of the depression, which is also one of the most challenging aspect of recovery for heroin users. Depression is not just a bad mood, and it does not simply stem from one source. Some of the most common sources of depression include:
- Brain chemistry
- Psychological trauma
- Physical disability
- Stressful social environment
- Drug or alcohol abuse
Dual diagnosis treatment is crucial for someone struggling with heroin and depression because the two conditions have such similar symptoms, which make each other worse. In many cases, it is difficult to even discover what came first, depression or heroin addiction. Either way, a huge factor to overcoming heroin and depression is with comprehensive and holistic dual diagnosis treatment.
Simultaneously addressing both issues and giving equal attention to both conditions gives way for more complete recovery. If one of the two is ignored, then it has the potential to eventually cause a relapse into the other. The deeper connection with heroin and depression is that these each of them is commonly inspired by similar circumstances, including genetics and trauma. Both will thrive through the impact of the other. Both are damaging and potentially fatal. But there is also help for each, and when treated in tandem they can each be overcome.
At Palm Healthcare Company, the idea of treating all parts of each individual is the core concept of our holistic approach to substance use disorder treatment. We believe that by providing personalized and effective care for each individual helps create lasting health, freedom and happiness in every aspect of life. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398