Excel is an effective heroin addiction treatment center in New Jersey. We pride ourselves on our compassionate approach to treating heroin addiction. You can rest assured that our expert staff will provide you or your loved one the best possible foundation for a long and successful recovery.

New Jersey is in the midst of a deadly epidemic of heroin addiction – in 2019, 2,900 people lost their lives to overdose, and it was the most common drug for people seeking drug addiction treatment in this state in 2019. New Jersey is located close to two major highways and a seaport, making it a high-activity area for drug trafficking. This has led to widespread dealing and high availability, with doses costing between just $5-10 dollars.

Heroin is extremely dangerous, and its physically addictive nature means that it can be tough for users to stop on their own. However, with the right intervention, therapy, and support, it is possible to recover successfully and live a happy and productive life.

A Field of Opium Flowers

What Is Heroin?

Heroin can come in many forms, but the type most commonly seen here is a white powder which originates in South America. It is made from the poppy plant and is typically sold in small bags stamped with a particular logo or design which contains a single dose. Heroin samples can vary wildly in potency, making the risk of overdose extremely high. More worryingly, heroin has been recently found to contain the ultra-potent opioid painkiller fentanyl, which further increases the risk of severe side effects and even death.

Heroin is typically snorted, smoked, or injected. Injection is the most dangerous, as the drug enters the bloodstream instantly. Because of this instant hit, users typically experience a ‘rush’ that is extremely pleasurable and addictive. That said, New Jersey has seen multiple deaths from snorting and smoking heroin, especially with the introduction of fentanyl into the drugs market.

Heroin can be used interchangeably with other opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and codeine. It is usually much cheaper, which means that many people addicted to prescription painkillers make the switch to heroin for financial reasons. The opioid crisis, largely caused by overprescription, has meant that people of all ages and from all walks of life have found themselves using heroin.

Short Term Effects of Heroin Addiction

Our bodies contain natural opioids, which fulfill various roles, such as regulating pain and body temperature. Heroin is similar to these natural opioids, and it binds to the same receptors in the body, causing a massive release of dopamine, which is our ‘feel-good’ chemical.

The initial effects of heroin are:

  • Euphoria
  • Drowsiness
  • Feeling of warmth
  • Raspy, drawling speech
  • Slurred speech
  • Feeling itchy
  • Feeling relaxed
  • Constipation
  • Constricted pupils
  • Nausea and vomiting

One dose of heroin is enough to become psychologically addicted, where users crave the same experience. This means that people can become dependent on the substance without being physically addicted, though addiction will follow.

Risk Factors

Heroin addiction and the associated lifestyle can be extremely damaging to users. Although it is easy to think death by overdose is the only negative effect heroin can have, there are a multitude of other problematic, adverse issues.

Increased Risk of Blood-borne Viruses

These include HIV or hepatitis C and arise from sharing needles and other equipment. In New Jersey, between 16-20% of new cases of HIV and 86% of hepatitis C are linked to injecting drugs.

Skin Sores

Heroin causes a massive release of histamines, which makes users feel incredibly itchy. This can cause them to scratch their skin obsessively, particularly on their face. This can lead to sores, which in turn can become infected due to the lifestyle heroin addiction can entail.

Damage From Injecting

Users frequently inject in unsanitary conditions, leading to infections and abscesses. Heroin users who frequently re-use the same syringes also put themselves at risk of fatal blood infections such as endocarditis.

Collapsed Veins

Repeatedly injecting heroin causes veins to become damaged and collapse, which can impair circulation and can cause blood clots. This is especially dangerous in ‘deep vein’ sites such as the groin or neck – if you or your loved one are using these areas you should seek help immediately.

Loss of Limbs

This can be caused by a multitude of reasons, from infections to blood clots. It can also be caused by accidentally injecting drugs into an artery, particularly the femoral artery, which runs through the groin down to the feet.

Criminal Justice

Heroin is illegal, and even possession can result in imprisonment. Although heroin can seem cheap at first, users typically build up a tolerance and need more and more to achieve the same effect, resulting in heroin addiction becoming expensive. Many people find themselves committing a crime to fund their habits. The New Jersey Drug Threat Assessment estimates that 70% of violent crime in New Jersey is linked to the drugs trade.

Signs of Heroin Addiction

Although some users are very good at hiding the signs and symptoms of heroin addiction, there are certain signs and behaviors that you can look out for.

Some of these include:

  • Constricted pupils
  • Appearing drowsy
  • Borrowing money and being unable to pay it back
  • Stealing
  • Finding small, empty glassine bags with a stamp or design on it
  • Finding spoons or small ‘cookers’ used to prepare drugs for injection. It is important to note that the popular image of a ‘burned spoon’ doesn’t apply to heroin addiction in New Jersey, as the heroin here does not typically require heat to dissolve
  • Burn marks in clothes from dropping cigarettes whilst intoxicated
  • Lying about whereabouts
  • Appearing withdrawn and pale
  • Poor personal hygiene

If you suspect a loved one is using heroin, it is always best to seek professional treatment. At Excel Treatment Center, our clinical and therapeutic team are experts in non-confrontational and compassionate intervention, and the well-being of the heroin user is always our main concern.

Withdrawal Effects

Over time, prolonged use of heroin causes the body to shut down its production of natural opioids, which results in users becoming physically dependent on the substance. This means the natural chemicals the body uses to maintain its balanced state have now been disrupted, and the body now relies on heroin to function. If users stop suddenly without medical support, the resulting withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and, in some instances, fatal.

Some of the symptoms of heroin withdrawal are:

  • Nausea
  • Shaking
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Dilated pupils
  • Paleness
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Hot/cold flushes
  • Goosebumps
  • Being sensitive to light
  • Depression
  • Feeling anxious
  • Restless legs
  • Pain
  • Insomnia

Detox and Heroin Addiction

This is a particularly vulnerable period for heroin users – as they will typically crave heroin to stave off the withdrawal symptoms. However, in a controlled setting with the proper medication and support, the symptoms can be treated, making the experience more manageable and giving users the best chance at sustained recovery.

Medications typically used to ease the withdrawal symptoms are methadone and Suboxone (buprenorphine). These bond to the same brain sites as heroin and prevent users from going into an uncontrolled withdrawal. These medications are reduced slowly, meaning symptoms are more comfortable and less acute. Other medications such as clonidine can be used to control symptoms such as restless legs, and nausea. Sleeping tablets can also be prescribed if necessary.

Heroin detox usually peaks in intensity after three or four days and should not last longer than 28 days. However, while not common, some people experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS), which can last for months. If this happens, help and support are vital during these vulnerable months of early recovery.

How to Get Help

The first and bravest step in the recovery journey is admitting that you need help. At the Excel, we understand this can be a daunting prospect. Many people attempt to stop using heroin multiple times on their own before seeking professional help, and we know that this can be disheartening. We also appreciate that the thought of a life free from drugs can be intimidating to users. However, millions of Americans are actively in recovery and living a life free from addiction – it is entirely possible with the right support.

If you or your loved one are addicted to heroin, the kindest thing you can do for yourself or them is to pick up the phone and schedule an initial assessment.

How Heroin Rehab Works

The first stage of rehab is detox, which is supervised by medical professionals. Following this, we offer a variety of recovery programs, which we tailor to meet our client’s unique needs. We are aware that many mental health conditions can co-occur with heroin addiction. We carry out an expert assessment to help us develop a bespoke program that treats the client as a whole.

We offer a range of evidence-based therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), group therapy, and holistic practices to make sure that clients receive the comprehensive treatment they deserve. We aim to uncover and treat the root cause of the addiction, which empowers our clients on their journey to a sustained and successful recovery.

Aftercare and Recovery Information

We take great pride in offering our clients ongoing support. New Jersey is a fantastic location with a thriving recovery scene. We are partnered with sober living facilities and provide aftercare programs that allow our clients to continue their healing journey and be inspirational role-models for those in early recovery.

New Jersey has a wide variety of mutual support meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous to help maintain and strengthen recovery and has a great range of sober social groups where people can mix and make new friends safely. Recovery doesn’t mean life has to be boring – it means a fresh start.

If you or your loved one are struggling with heroin addiction, please reach out to us today. We’re here to help you every step of the way.

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