Heroin is a highly addictive, illegal opioid drug. It is derived from opium, which comes from the poppy plant. It is then chemically modified to turn into morphine, after which further chemical adjustments are made for it to become heroin. People typically ingest heroin by smoking, snorting, sniffing, and/ or injecting it into their system. The way heroin works is by attaching itself to opioid receptors in one’s body, which affects neurotransmitters and one’s pleasure and reward perceptions. Heroin also affects one’s ability to control heart rate, breathing, and sleeping. Although heroin is amongst the most addictive substances available, recovery from heroin abuse is possible. For many people, treatment for a heroin abuse will begin with detox and subsequently require attending some type of formalized substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program.
Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, are a class of psychoactive drugs prescribed in America that are often used for the treatment of anxiety, panic disorders, muscle spasms, and seizure disorders. They are man-made medications that work by affecting one’s neurotransmitters, enhancing the effects of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that blocks impulses between nerve cells in one’s brain. Benzodiazepines increase GABA, which in turn reduces brain activity. Although benzodiazepines are classified by the DEA (United States Drug Enforcement Administration) as Schedule IV Controlled Substance, meaning they are “defined as drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence,” benzos can be habit forming and lead to addiction. Long-term use of benzos can lead to tolerance, which means that individuals will require higher doses to achieve the same results, as lower doses will be ineffective. Due to the way benzos affect one’s brain, individuals that have abused benzos are advised to undergo a medical detox program.
Detox is the process of ridding one’s body of all foreign substances. Even though heroin is notoriously known as a more addictive substance than benzodiazepines, for some people, an addiction to benzodiazepines may feel more difficult to overcome than an addiction to heroin. This may be attributed to the length of time it generally takes to cleanse the body of benzos. Unlike many other substances, including heroin, where detox requires an individual to immediately cease substance use, it is generally recommended for an individual who has consistently taken benzos for two weeks or longer to taper off the substance as opposed to stopping abruptly. While the tapering-off method can help to reduce the severity of some of the withdrawal symptoms (e.g., minimize the intensity of drug cravings), the extended length of time can make the detox process feel unnecessarily arduous. It is important to bear in mind that everyone’s experience with recovering from addiction will be unique.
If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. Addiction can be an incredibly damaging disease. Navigating the challenges that arise from substance abuse, and/ or addiction can not only be all consuming but are often impossible to effectively handle without proper support. If left untreated, substance abuse and/ or addiction can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences.
While seeking help is never easy, it is beneficial to bear in mind that you do not have to be on this journey alone. There is an entire network of professionals that are readily available to help and support you or your loved one throughout every step of the recovery process.
Pathways Recovery is a fully supportive treatment program for those struggling with substance abuse and/ or addiction. We believe in our clients and their ability to turn their lives around. We know that each person who chooses to join our community has the strength it takes to overcome their challenges with substance abuse and/ or addiction. Please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. We are happy to answer any questions and provide any information you may be looking for regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction. Feel free to contact us by phone at 626-515-6424 or 1-866-682-0901. We look forward to connecting and having the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to support you.