A large proportion of the clients who come to us at Hope Rehab are seeking treatment for heroin addiction. If you, or somebody you care about, is suffering because of this type of substance abuse, we can help. We use an evidence-based approach to promote recovery from opiate abuse. We don’t claim to have any miracle cures, but the transformation many of our clients’ experience could easily be described as miraculous.
The first step for most our clients is the Heroin/Opiate Detox which Hope specialises in and has extensive experience at administering. Our aim is to get you through with the least pain and as comfortably as possible. To a large extent we allow clients to lead their own detox regime in a timeframe that suites them. We require a minimum of two months commitment for safety reasons and sound therapeutic reasons.
By the end of the first months treatment you will start to feel healthy and have normal emotional responses. This can be challenging for someone having taken opiates for a prolonged period as heroin is a painkiller. Difficult emotions can be a trigger so it is important to be in a safe place and learn the coping skills to manage life on life’s terms.
Heroin and opiate addiction creates chaos and destruction in everyone’s life including family and friends so a long healing process is required. Relationship and trust can be restored over time and with work.
The Hope program includes Mindfulness which helps you manage triggers and cravings and can be used to regulate difficult emotions and thoughts. Our fitness program will build your physical health back up and reintroduce a sense of satisfaction with life. In group and counselling you will address the issues that set you on a path of self-medication and self-destruction. Many of our clients identify the early trauma or struggles that have led you into this debilitation life.
Heroin (diacetylmorphine) is refined Opium or the latex sap that is collected from the poppy seed pod. First, it is broken down into basic morphine and then further concentrated into, what was branded Heroin one hundred years ago by a German pharmaceutical company. It is a white or brown powder depending on where it is sourced. There are believed to be around 9.5 million heroin users globally.
Heroin or Morphine works by binding to the brain’s receptors for endorphin, a natural pain response in the brain similar to opiates themselves. They are natural feel-good chemicals when the body is under pain or stress. However, the drug is far more powerful than our natural supply. Endorphin has another quality and in certain doses can excite and produce feelings of euphoria and a high, this is usually lost after long-term use.
In other words: Opioid drugs like heroin trigger a class of neurotransmitters, the brain’s natural opioid-like neurotransmitters, endorphin and encephalin, leading to euphoria and a desire to repeat the experience.
This increases analgesia and decreased alertness, slowing respiration. Prolonged opiate use may cause the brain to change and come to depend on the presence of the drug just to function. Then the opposite of pleasure – anxiety, irritability, and low mood happen in the absence. Immediate negative symptoms start, which are called withdrawal (see futher below).
Hijacked Brain: the human reward system is designed for survival, but hijacked by the chemical payoffs provided by heroin. The reward circuitry normally bookmarks important things: food, nurturing children, education, work and friendships. However, now it has been corrupted by heroin.
People with addictions are low on dopamine, causing addiction, depression, loss of satisfaction, poor focus and other symptoms. Low dopamine levels cause us to consciously and unconsciously seek out dopamine raising substances or behaviours. All substances stimulate dopamine release or increase its activity and produce the hedonic response “I like that.”
The dopamine pleasure pathway is the Go system, and the prefrontal cortex is the Stop system. When we anticipate and experience something good like food or sex, alcohol or drugs, our brain experiences a surge in the level of the neurotransmitter dopamine.
Heroin is either smoked (“chasing the dragon”) or can be sniffed, and many users progress on to injecting. The effects range from relaxing to numbing and euphoric, an escape from reality, an emotional detachment or a safe, warm bubble to hide in. In addition to these rather pleasurable sensations following effects can be experienced: A rush to the brain, drowsiness, pain suppression, slow breathing, nausea and vomiting, skin itchiness, vein collapse, blood born diseases, constricted or pinned pupils, loss of appetite.
The drug produces a profound sense of satisfaction for most users and is highly physically and psychologically addictive. This is because Heroin changes the brain circuitry when it is consistently used over time. However when use is stopped suddenly neural transmitters that have been suppressed start pumping brain chemistry again, and this is very uncomfortable for the addict.
Stopping is often an addict’s worst fear, this is because every addict has experienced the time when they could not get their dose and suffered forced withdrawals (cold turkey) a sense of torture and panic sets in, maybe this can explain why Heroin addicts will do almost anything for the drug.
Death is usually caused by an overdose. The reason: Too much heroin slows down the respiratory system (breathing) so much that it stops with fatal consequences unless an antidote is administered quickly. Blood Bourne Virus is also a risk factor as well as Hep C which is very common amongst injectors with HIV in second place.
Extreme behaviour change is noticeable by loved ones and family, such as lying and cheating, stealing to buy the drug, changing and losing friends, loss of interest in healthy activities, illegal activities and self-neglect.
Heroin is known by many different street names, such as:
The way heroin is demonised in the media can lead to misunderstandings as to how people end up developing a habit. It isn’t that this drug causes people to become addicted right away that makes it so dangerous – it is the fact that it usually doesn’t. Most first-time users enjoy the pleasurable effects without developing a compulsion to use again, and this gives them the confidence to dabble in the drug as an ‘occasional user’. It is only when they wake up one morning ‘junk sick’ that they realise they have become hooked.
The people who are at the highest risk of becoming addicted to heroin are those who have a need to escape some type of pain in their life. This discomfort may be due to emotional trauma, or it could be due to uncontrolled anxiety or the feeling of having ‘a hole in the soul’. Heroin can feel like the perfect medicine for this pain initially, and it can take a long time before the unacceptably high cost of this relief becomes obvious.
Heroin addiction can be hard to escape, as quitting involves physical and psychological discomfort. Substance abuse also damages your self-esteem, and it can mean you feel powerless to change your life.
Before we go onto discussing heroin treatment, it might be best to get the obvious question out of the way: Do you need rehab to recover from heroin addiction? Especially if you have managed to come off heroin previously without the help of an inpatient treatment program, you may be unsure about whether you actually need this type of help now. The reality is, even making a small change in our life can be an unsustainable struggle unless we have sufficient support and access to the right resources. Giving up heroin is a major life change, and for a recovery plan to be successful, it will need to reflect this. The benefit of rehab for heroin addiction is that it not only provides you with the right environment for recovery, but it also gives you a strong foundation on which to build a better future.
There are never any guarantees, but if you are sufficiently motivated, and you combine this with the right resources, you are highly likely to succeed. So, if you are serious about changing your life, you probably do need to go to rehab. The benefit of an inpatient treatment program for heroin addiction is that for a couple of months, you will be able to put all your efforts into changing your life. You will often hear people in recovery talk about how ‘half-measures availed us nothing’, but by going to rehab you will be putting all of your attention where it needs to be.
Going to rehab greatly increases your likelihood of achieving long-term recovery.
There will be treatments available to ease your withdrawal symptoms.
Breaking free of opiate addiction is a major undertaking – going to rehab means you can put all of your attention on achieving this goal.
You will be surrounded by likeminded people who will support and encourage you.
During rehab therapy sessions, you can begin facing the underlying issues driving the addictive behavior.
You will be helped to build positive social networks – this is important as social pressure is a common relapse trigger for people attempting to overcome heroin addiction.
- You will have access to all the resources you need to begin transforming your life
In some ways, giving up heroin is the easy bit – it is staying free of this drug that is hard. This is why it is so important that you have the right tools that will allow you to build a good life away from addiction. Therefore, the goal of the program at Hope Rehab is not just to get you to stop using heroin because this only gets you back to square one. There has been a reason for why you desired the pain-relief properties of opiates, and this reason is still likely to be there when you stop. Even if you do manage to stay clean, your mental discomfort could push you towards new maladaptive behaviours such as alcoholism.
Choosing an appropriate treatment center is going to be important now, that you are serious about breaking free of addiction. This is a precious chance for you to turn your life around, but you are going to want the right resources in order to make the most of this opportunity. As we have already mentioned above, the secret of success in recovery is to combine your full commitment to change with the most suitable resources. Entering a rehab program is definitely a step in the right direction, but it needs to be the right type of program or else you might not have access to the resources and support you need. At the very least, the rehab needs to have a good understanding of heroin addiction and the process of recovery from this drug – if the approach is too general in nature, it might just miss the mark.
There is a good client-to-therapist ratio
Do the therapists/counsellors have a good understanding of what recovery from opiate addiction involves?
There is a solid aftercare program
You get treated like an individual (e.g. individualised care planning)
The program is made up of evidence-based treatments
There is an holistic approach that takes into account your physical, mental, and emotional needs
The team at Hope Rehab Thailand understands what you need to recover from this type of addiction. Our founder, Simon Mott, not only overcame his own addiction to heroin but has also helped hundreds of other people do the same. Our treatment program is designed to get to the root or your addiction problem. During therapy, you can begin to gain insights into the distorted thought patterns that have been holding you back in life. You can then use tools from CBT to help you regain control over your thinking. Our mindfulness program provides a path towards the mental serenity you were yearning for when you began abusing heroin. You will also learn how to use the 12 steps to build a better life free from addiction.
The initial period of withdrawals is what heroin users tend to dread most when they decide to break free of the drug. These symptoms can be uncomfortable, but there is a lot that can be done to ease your transition to drug-free living. The tranquil environment here at Hope Rehab Thailand can make the process much easier, and you will be supported every step of the way. You will also be under medical supervision and treatments will be offered to ease your symptoms as required.