Heroin is one of the most potent drugs in the world and its use has become a significant issue in America, with the state of California no exception. The reason we are seeing increasing numbers of people entering our heroin treatment center in San Francisco is that the issue is compounded by the rise in prescription drug abuse in America. Individuals who are initially being prescribed opioid-based painkillers such as OxyContin or Percocet by their physicians for legitimate reasons are increasingly turning to heroin as a cheap and freely-available alternative.

Heroin is an opiate that is made from the extract of the opium poppy. Opioids are a synthetic version of heroin used in modern-day painkillers that are generally prescribed for chronic pain conditions, requiring individuals to follow a course of meds for several weeks, sometimes months. Opioid painkillers work in the same way as heroin, which has been used in its natural form as a painkiller for centuries.

Essentially, opiates and opioids flood the body with dopamine by altering the brain’s chemical balance so that pain signals from other parts of the body are blocked and the user is “distracted” by intense euphoria.

Heroin addiction is no trivial matter because it carries a high risk of overdose meaning that every time a person uses, it could be their last. However, the fact that many people start their journey into heroin abuse from prescription medications has led to more people becoming addicted before they graduate to the drug. Whereas they may start to take safe doses of opioids under the supervision of a physician, the way these kinds of drugs work means that users need progressively more in order to get the pain-relieving effects. When faced with a physician reluctant to increase an opioid painkiller dose, many seek illegal heroin because it is much easier to obtain.

A Risky Business: How Opiates and Opioids Work

As mentioned above, it is the way opiates and opioids take effect that makes them particularly high-risk for developing addiction. In cases where a person has been prescribed painkillers for a short-term serious injury, the risk of developing tolerance is limited and it is quite possible to benefit from a short prescriptive course of opioid-based medications. However, people requiring these kinds of drugs for prolonged period face a significant risk of developing tolerance, which leaves them vulnerable to developing heroin addiction.

When our bodies have become used to receiving certain chemicals on a daily basis, over time a resistance or tolerance is developed. This basically means that the person will need to use more of the substance to get the same effects they initially experienced when using it. With heroin and prescription opioids, tolerance develops very quickly and is generally accompanied by progressively worse cravings and withdrawal symptoms. For people who rely on the pain-relieving effects of painkillers, it is almost inevitable that they will reach out for higher doses when they have become tolerant to smaller amounts.

Once an individual finds themselves in a situation where they are using heroin or prescription meds to reduce cravings and withdrawal, it is likely that they are in the early stages of addiction. Indeed, people who have required higher doses of prescription meds may have already “graduated” to heroin abuse.

The Holistic Approach to Heroin Addiction Treatment

The holistic approach has enormous benefits for people who have problems with prescription painkillers or heroin. However, the stand-out reason is that it replaces a chemical dependence with natural techniques and therapies that can help individuals manage chronic pain symptoms and overcome heroin addiction. We offer a 90-day holistic heroin detox non-12 step program at Elevate centers for heroin drug San Francisco, which allows as much time as the individual needs to find healing at their own pace. The effects of heroin and opioid-based drugs on the brain are significant and the damage done to a person’s mind, body and spirit extensive. With comprehensive inpatient rehab and outpatient aftercare, it is possible to restore a natural balance to the lives of people struggling to overcome heroin addiction.

Some of the holistic therapies available in an Elevate heroin treatment center in San Francisco include the following:

Massage Therapy

Detoxing from heroin can be an uncomfortable experiencing depending on how long the person has been using for. Massage therapy can be very beneficial in relaxing the body, soothing muscle and joint pain and de-stressing while individuals go through heroin detox.

Deep Breathing and Mindfulness

Silencing internal dialogue is an important component of holistic heroin rehab, particularly as individuals are seeking to rid themselves of their compulsive addictive behavior. Cravings for heroin can be so intense that obtaining the drug and using it become an obsession for the addict. Unraveling heroin’s control on a person’s free will is essential and mindfulness practices restore self-awareness as a powerful tool for relapse prevention. Deep-breathing and mindfulness are essentially about quieting the mind and focusing on the moment.

Physical Fitness

People who started using heroin after being prescribed opioid painkillers need to find other ways of managing pain. Being physically fit and strong is the best defense against pain, making exercise an important component of an Elevate heroin treatment program. When people exercise, the body produces natural serotonin which creates the same effects as drugs like heroin, although with much less intensity. Finding other ways of improving wellbeing naturally has been shown to be an effective way of protecting sobriety in both drug and alcohol recovery.

Continued Care After an Elevate Heroin Treatment Center in San Francisco

When people leave our facility, they are not “cured” of heroin addiction as it is an illness that carries a high risk of relapse. For that reason, we offer a comprehensive aftercare program that continues to support patients as they transition from inpatient rehab and back to their homes. This can be a vulnerable time for many people and the additional support given by aftercare is invaluable. Recovering patients have access to the most effective treatment components of their non-12 step program, scheduled in flexible sessions at their convenience.