Heroin abuse in the United States is high and on the rise. It have been proven, in many surveys, that the rise in heroin use is a product of the prescription drug abuse problem. Over prescribing in the United States is at an all time high and causing significant problems for our society. While the misuse of prescription drugs is a major problem in our nation, the rise in casualties from heroin abuse is worse. The prescription drug abuser eventually runs out of their drug of choice and needs a replacement. Due to the high cost of prescription drugs, when the addict exhausts his home and that homes of his family and friends he needs a cheaper replacement. That replacement is heroin. The abundance of heroin and its high purity make it the number one drug substitute for prescription opioids.
There are roughly 13.5 million users in the world of opioids (opium related substances), of which 9.2 use heroin. According to a report in Europe, opiates(heroin mainly), were responsible for four out of five deaths; from the European Monitoring centre on Drugs and drug addiction. Approximately 18% of all drug and alcohol addiction are cause by heroin. 4.2 million Americans aged 12 or older admitted to using heroin at least once in their life, according to a 2011 study. It is also estimated that 23% of those who try heroin become addicted to it. Heroin abuse is on the rise in the United States, decimating communities.
The effects of using heroin create a cycle of immediate, but brief rush and intense euphoria. Which, is followed by an even more intense crash, when the drug begins to wear off. which, leads into craving. So this cycle of rush, crash, and craving is consistently repeated in order to keep their high and produces extreme behavioral deformities.
Heroin addiction is a very difficult and complicated addiction to recover from, while it is not impossible it does take a very detailed program to help the addict. A combination of prescribed medicine and counseling are utilized to get the addict to sobriety. The most popular drug used to medicate heroin addicts is methadone. The drugs purpose is to stop the urge for a user of heroin to relapse. Unfortunately, methadone is a very addictive drug itself. Not only is it addictive, but overdose has led to many deaths; thus the problem with methadone. In response, there have been several medical advances and experiments to better equip the recovering addict with the proper medicine to help them prevent relapse. The two new substitutes for methadone are Buramorphine and LAMM or Levomethadyl acetate.
More Medications Means More Problems
The more medications that exist to try to help heroin addicts means more heroin addicts that can be successfully treated is the mindset of people like Rolley Johnson, director of the study at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The study compares the previous medicine, methadone, with the new meds bupranorphine and LAMM. Over a 17 week period, three groups of heroin addicts were treated with the three different medications. By a slight margin the LAMM patients were best at keeping clean continuously, while methadone was best at keeping patients in treatment, with burpranorphine was close behind.
Methadone, LAMM, and Bupranorpine
Methadone, taken orally as a flavored syrup, has been the leading treatment for heroin addiction since its discovery in the 1960’s. The National Institute of Drug abuse estimates as many as 200,000 addicts receiving methadone in the US. Methadone, which costs $3 a week. LAMM is also a syrup and was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1993. It has not been used widely in treatment because of its high cost. LAMM costs $13.60 Bupranophrine is delivered orally, under the tongue in drops. It was expected to received approval by the FDA in 2001. It has drawn considerable excitement because of its safety. Even when exceeding the recommended doses, it cannot cause over dose. If the individual tries to take more than recommended it will actually make them sick. The drug also have a significantly lower potential for withdrawal symptoms than methadone. As well as, not having to take it as frequently, the drug only needs to be taken once ever two to three days.
Advisors and individuals that work heroin treatment centers have discussed the positive feed back of giving their patients a choice. The ability to decide which medication is right for them has been a helpful. Patients who have taken LAMM have preferred it to methadone because it lacks the high and low syndrome that goes with it. Addicts have reported that after taking methadone they feel drowsy for a few hours, which can make it difficult for them to hold down jobs. While it does not produce the high of heroin, it still gives the person a high when taken orally and even more so when injected; it does inhibit their ability to work. Along with the ability to choose bupranorphne is available outside of treatment centers and clinics. Select physicians will be able to see and treat recovery heroin addicts at their very own practices. Some professionals have stated the there seems to be a stigma placed on individuals who go to treatment facilities to receive medication that prevents them form getting the help they need. If they are able to go to their ordinary physician for treatment, then they will be more willing to receive it. As of the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000, the drug can be dispensed at the privacy of a doctor’s office. It is believed by some experts that this new era of treating addiction will open the doors to decriminalizing drugs.
Are we Substituting one addicting drug for another? Heroin for Methadone, and Buprenorphine for Methadone?
One of the main conflicts in recovery is that the use of medications to help an individual recover from an addiction to other drugs. Methadone, the most common drug used to treat heroin abuse, is the drug that is under fire here. Methadone gives the addict a ‘high’, is very addictive, and can be fatal if taken over the dose recommended. When used as directed in a controlled, monitored, and safe treatment facility these drugs have been successful. The treatment of heroin with these drugs is called a maintenance treatment. Methadone, buprenorphine or LAMM are administered in a controlled environment. The drugs have gradual onsets, compared to heroin, producing stable levels of the drug in the brain. Therefore, the patients do not experience the ‘rush’, while reducing their desire to use opioids. The use of these drugs help to stabilize the patient and gradually wean them off drugs completely.
What to do if Someone is Abusing Heroin
If you or someone you know is abusing heroin it is important to seek help. Heroin addiction is very serious and very dangerous. Without seeking help heroin abuse has been proven to be fatal. Talking to someone about the abuse is the first step. When seeking help it is important to reach an addiction advisor. They will have the ability to point you in the right direction.
You will discuss possible programs that will help you or someone you know quit their heroin addiction. From here they will recommend a treatment facility for you to begin rehabilitation. At the center you and your loved ones will participate in physical as well as mental and emotional treatment to get to the bottom of your addiction and learn ways to stay permanently drug free.