Heroin enters the brain in a faster rate that its effects can be seen in minutes. Upon entering the brain, heroin binds in the opioid receptors in the form of heroin and creates a certain sensation to the user. Dry mouth and heavy feeling in the extremities mostly accompany this sensation. These initial effects are followed by drowsiness and headache. Slow cardiac function and breathing are also considered to be present. Heroin also produces long-term effects such as addiction, infectious diseases like HIV, and infection of heart lining and valves.
Once a heroin user gets addicted, physical dependence on the drug may occur which may result to the adaptation of the body to the presence of the heroin that has been take. Moreover, withdrawal symptoms occur once heroin intake is reduced. Some symptoms include insomnia, diarrhea, restlessness and vomiting. Heroin use can also affect pregnant women. The use of heroin plus other environmental factors affects the baby’s weight.
There are various treatments available in many treatment facilities for heroin addiction. Among these treatment medications are methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. Methadone is a synthetic opiate that functions as a detoxifying and maintaining agent for opiate addicts, specifically heroin. Methadone was developed in Nazi, Germany in the late 1930’s for the purpose of replacement of opium used by military. Introduced as an analgesic in 1941 by Eli Lilly and Company, Methadone is considered as one of the famous treatment for narcotics addiction.
Since its launch in the US, many street incidents provide evidences that feature methadone as an effective treatment for withdrawal heroin symptoms. In order to prove the effectiveness of methadone as treatment for heroin addiction, Professor Vincent Dole, Marie Nyswander, and Mary Jeanne Kreek of Rockefeller University completed a study on the possible case that methadone can be used as a form of drug addiction therapy. Their study resulted to the justification that methadone has the ability to control the effects of heroin in the body.
The study also showed that addiction could be treated like any other normal diseases. Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals is the first manufacturer of methadone in the US and have the patent until 1990’s. ( Joseph, et al, 2000) The slow metabolic process of methadone makes it last longer than any other morphine-based drugs. Nevertheless, the metabolic process varies between individuals. This variability is based on the creation of the available enzymes in the body. In a heroine detoxification program, the intake is only administered once a day.
In certain cases where the metabolism of methadone is rapid, the administered intake is twice a day. When situations like over dosage of methadone occurs, the treatment by naloxone is given. There are many serious effects of using methadone. Among these effects are: nausea, anorexia, dry mouth, perspiration, vomiting, headache, hallucination, impotence, skin rash and even death. In the reports of the National Center for Health Statistics, 3, 849 deaths in 2004 is accounted to be methadone-related cases.
Among those deaths, 82% involved accidental deaths and most of these deaths are combination of methadone and another drug used. However, a report performed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicated that the methadone-associated deaths were not due to the methadone usage for a methadone treatment. The report also concluded that the distribution of methadone via other channels was the main cause of methadone-associated deaths. Upon the usage of methadone, it is still evident that it causes withdrawal symptoms.
Among these symptoms are tearing, runny nose, vomiting, diarrheas, nausea, elevated blood pressure, paranoia, depression, agitation, anxiety and visual hallucinations These symptoms are less severe than the withdrawal symptoms experienced from heroin users. Compared to heroin withdrawal symptoms, withdrawal symptoms of methadone have prolonged effects. Like every other things, methadone has also advantages and disadvantages when it comes to its usage. Listed below are the advantages of methadone treatment. Advantages of Methadone
1) Methadone is legal and accepted by the public. 2) Methadone is highly cost-effective. In a report provided by the New York Academy of Medicine, a one year of methadone treatment only costs $5,000 per patient compared to $109,000 for any injecting drug user with AIDS. 3) It effectively hastens the reduction of dependence if the dosage is enough. 4) Methadone is considered on of the most successful heroin addiction treatments. The effect of the methadone treatment to the heroin addicts, though takes a longer time, is very efficient.
The improvements of the life of those in this treatment can be seen and others that do detoxification have a high chance of fully avoiding the use of heroin and other drugs in their entire life. 5) Being taken orally, methadone has no danger in the possibility of transferring blood-borne diseases like HIV and hepatitis. Disadvantages of Methadone 1) There are various side effects. Among the common side effects are sweating, constipation and drowsiness. 2) While on methadone treatment, an addict who does take heroin definitely experiences less effect, thus, making the addict take more heroin resulted to death due to heroin overdose.
3) Methadone detoxification takes longer time compared to heroin. The withdrawal symptoms of methadone usually last for 4 to 6 weeks. Methadone treatment availability for many heroin addicts are not just enough for their large number. Many hindrances that heroin addicts experience are that methadone is medically regulated and the location of the methadone facility is too far. Only few doctors in the US are registered as a legitimate practitioner of methadone treatment. Some heroin addicts also find hard time to travel to their respective treatment facility because of its long distance.
Counselor Recommendation Ideally, a treatment is considered successful if the client is completely drug-free. Having the client in a methadone treatment is not considered a success because the client is still considered an addict to opiates. Another way to evaluate if the treatment is successful if the life of the patient has improved- his family relations, work habits, health, and social integration. Methadone treatment is still not enough to fully make the patient ready for a new life. Counseling is an added and effective ingredient in treating any kind of addiction.
Together with medication such as the above discussed, behavioral therapies play an important role in the success of the treatment. Counseling also called talk therapy focuses on helping the patient how to change the way they live their lives. Many specific approaches are used by many counselors and therapist in treating a patient. Among these specific approaches are: 1) improve the motivation of the patient, 2) teach techniques in stopping drug abuse and relapse, 3) Always reward and give incentives to every progress the patient has attained and 4) involve the family in the treatment.
References Joseph H, Langrod J. (2000). “Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT): a review of historical and clinical issues” Mt. Sinai Journal 65 (3-6) Michels II, Stover H. Substitution treatment for opioid addicts in Germany. Harm Reduction Journal. 2007 February 2, (3-5) “The surprising truth about heroin and addiction. ” Reasononline. Retrieved April 28, 2009 @ http://www. reason. com/news/show/28809. html