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Oxycontin Addiction Treatment: Connection Between Heroin & Opiates

If you have heard about the resurgence of use of both opiates (such as oxy) and heroin, you may find yourself wondering whether there is an actual difference between the two and what the connection between them might be. Before we can understand the difference between the two, it is important to define what they are. Once you have a better understanding of the similarities and the differences, you will begin to see a pattern as to why some users are turning to heroin because of an addiction to opiates.

What are Opioids?

Heroin is a member of the opiate group – similar to ice cream being a dairy product, but dairy not necessarily being ice cream. Other drugs in this family include buprenorphine, methadone, oxycodone, codeine, pethidine, morphine and opium. Opium is made from the poppy flower seedpods – the other drugs in this category are all derived from opium.

What Happens When a Person Uses Opiates?

There are a number of short-term effects upon the introduction of opiates into the system. Oftentimes this produces a massive wave of emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. This is another reason that the narcotic is so psychologically addictive. The immediate effects can last anywhere between two to six hours after the person takes them.

Immediate effects include:

Opioids
  • Impaired coordination
  • Slurred and slow speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Reduced sexual urges
  • Suppressed cough reflex
  • Dry mouth
  • Constricted pupils
  • Decreased blood pressure/heart rate
  • Slowed breathing
  • Pain relief
  • Confusion
  • Intense pleasure
  • Strong feelings of wellbeing

Continued use or greater amounts can lead to stronger and longer lasting effects. These may include:

  • Increased urination
  • Sweating and itching
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slow and shallow breathing
  • Falling asleep or going ‘on the nod’

Why are these Narcotics so Addictive?

You may have heard that addiction treatment for OxyContin and other optiates can be extremely difficult, mainly because the drugs are highly addictive. Members of this particular drug group create artificial endorphins in the brain. This leads to the flush of warm and comforting sensations in the user.

As the user continues to abuse this illicit substance, it tricks the brain into no longer producing these endorphins in a normal way. What this means is that the user no longer experiences pleasurable sensations unless he or she is actively taking this illicit substance. This means no joy from anything, only feeling depressed and sick when not on the drug. This is what makes successful opiate rehab so difficult and requires long-term treatment programs to help the addict relearn healthy ways to experience life. Consequently, the body adapts to the presence of the substance rather quickly, meaning that the user is going to need to take more and more of the same drug to attain the same high as before. This can lead to their dependency spiraling out of control at a rapid rate. This is one of the main reasons opiate or Oxycontin addiction treatment and rehab needs to start as quickly as possible in order to avoid increased damage.

If the person no longer takes the drug, it can lead to a number of different withdrawal symptoms that occur as quickly as hours after their last use.

These include:

  • Goose bumps
  • Uses Opiates
  • Stomach and muscle cramps
  • Low blood pressure
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Teary eyes and runny nose
  • Yawning
  • Restlessness
  • Craving for the drug

Those symptoms may begin to subside about two to four days after the last use during a detox phase. However, some individuals report struggling with the following symptoms for a much longer period and are often addressed during the rehabilitation process:

  • Depression
  • Narcotics
  • Muscle spasms
  • Elevated pulse
  • Vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia

The Dangers of Prescription Opioids

Though the inherent danger of abusing opioid medication went unnoticed at first, the statistics do not lie. It is important to remember that even legal pharmaceutical medications have the potential for abuse. Even though prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin are federally regulated and FDA approved, it does not mean there is no potential for abuse.Prescription Opioids Looking at the statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you would see that the leading illicit drugs combined do not cause as many fatalities as opioid painkillers do. Every day, some 40 Americans lose their lives because of an overdose on prescription painkillers. This totals to be about 15,000 fatalities every year. If anything, this should tell you that opioids have high potential for abuse, regardless of their legal status and that the need for quality opiate abuse treatment is critical.

Prescription Opioid Abuse and Heroin

When used in other ways than prescribed, prescription opioid pain medications like Vicodin and OxyContin, have effects that are similar to the use of heroin. If you look at the statistics, you will find that pharmaceutical opioid pain medications are the most commonly abused drug in the nation. Studies have shown that this abuse may, in fact, open the door to the alternative drug use for many long-term users.

Many who actively injected heroin report that they started abusing prescription painkilling medication before ever turning to this alternative narcotic. The reason that they eventually turned to heroin was that it became easier to obtain and was cheaper than buying prescription opioids. Many people turned to heroin in the first place because they were unable to obtain prescription pills that they could crush to inject or snort. Simply put, the street drug alternative became a far easier and affordable option for those with no desire for recovery.

Differences Between the Drugs

Complicating the switch between oxy (OxyContin/oxycodone) and heroin is the fact that OxyContin and oxycodone are pharmaceutical products. This means the production occurred in a lab that adheres to strict legal and medical guidelines. While the potency and purity of heroin is unpredictable. It depends on what additives the final product was cut with, what the original ingredients were and what the manufacturing process was. This means that a user may find that they are continuously using low-strength doses of the drug, only to find a far purer alternative without warning. This increases the risk of an overdose that could prove to be fatal.

Entering Treatment for Opiate Rehab

Remember that OxyContin addiction treatment is essential, not only because the abuse itself is dangerous to the user’s health, but also because the connection between OxyContin and heroin is well established. Remember that the withdrawal symptoms and whole rehab process can be difficult to deal with. Whether someone is addicted to Fentanyl, heroin, OxyContin or some other opioid, the risks of a fatal overdose with these substances are too great to let it continue unchecked. The best step is to find a rehabilitation facility that offers medical detoxification and can safely help with withdrawal. If you have any further questions about treatment or are concerned about a loved one, be sure to call Trusted Heroin Rehab right away.