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Although there is a broad range of treatment options for heroin addiction, including medications and behavioral therapies, research indicates that when medication treatment is integrated with other supportive services, the addict is more often able to recover and return to a stable and productive lifestyle (NIDA). In 1997, a panel of national experts concluded that opiate drug addictions are diseases of the brain and medical disorders that can be treated effectively, and recommended broader access to methadone maintenance treatment programs, including the elimination of Federal and state regulation barriers impeding this access (NIDA). The panel also emphasized the importance of providing substance abuse counseling, psychosocial therapies, and other supportive services to enhance retention and successful outcomes (NIDA).
Methadone blocks the effects of heroin for approximately 24 hours and has a proven successful when prescribed at a high dosage level. Other medications include naloxone, which is used to treat overdoses, and naltrexone, both of which block the effects of morphine, heroin, and other opiates (NIDA). Buprenorphine differs from methadone in that it is less addictive and can be dispensed in a doctor's office (NIDA).
Methadone maintenance together with prenatal care and a comprehensive drug treatment program can improve many of the detrimental maternal and neonatal outcomes associated with heroin abuse during pregnancy (NIDA). Research indicates that buprenorphine is safe and effective in treating heroin abuse during pregnancy, however infants exposed to methadone or buprenorphine during pregnancy usually require treatment for withdrawal symptoms (NIDA). Pregnant women who do not want to or are not able to receive pharmacotheraphy may detoxify with relative safety, yet the likelihood of relapse should be considered (NIDA).
There are numerous effective behavioral treatments available for heroin addiction, including residential and outpatient approaches. Contingency management therapy uses a voucher-based system, in which the patient earns points based on negative drug tests that can be exchanged for items that encourage healthful living (NIDA). Cognitive-behavioral interventions are designed to help the patient modify his/her thinking, expectancies, and behaviors, and increase coping skills for various life stressors (NIDA).
In the November 1998 issue of The Journal of Psychology, Frank Patalano reported the results of a study conducted to study cross-cultural similarities in the personalities of heroin users in the United States and India. Findings indicated that Indian heroin users were more neurotic, impulsive, sociable and extraverted than their American counterparts, and that both male and female heroin users readily admitted personal difficulties (Patalano). Moreover, there were differences regarding the level of emotional distress, depression, and sensitivity (Patalano). According to the study, users showed less emotional stability and were more easily upset. They also had less ego strength, were more insecure, more frustrated, and had weakened superego strength (Patalano). These findings were similar to the results of earlier studies of hard core heroin addicts in the United States and later studies of male and female multiple-substance abusers, who used heroin as well as other illicit drugs (Patalano).
In the January 1997 issue of The Journal of Psychology, B.S. Gupta reported the results of a study in which fifty persons who were addicted to heroin and fifty persons who had never used drugs were studied to determine the personality characteristics of persons addicted to heroin. According to the findings, the addicted respondents scored higher on five scales: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Impulsivity, and Sociability, as well as Trait, on the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (Gupta). Moreover, the addicted respondents had lower scores on intelligence, emotional stability, ego and superego strength, rule compliance and self-sentiment integration on the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (Gupta). They were also more sensitive, overprotected, prone to guilt, insecure, troubled, tense and frustrated (Gupta).
Common slang names for heroin include smack, china white, horse, and black tar. Roughly 60% of the world's opium is produced in the remote part of Southeast Asia, as well as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Colombia, and Mexico (From).
A single dose of heroin, called a 'bag,' may contain 100mg of powder, but only 1 to 10% is pure heroin, the remainder could be sugars, starch, powdered milk, or quinine (Heroin). According to www.streetdrugs.com, heroin purity today ranges from 1 to 98% with the national average of 35% (Heroin). Injection is considered the most practical and efficient way to administer low-purity heroin, while users of higher purity heroin now can snort or smoke the narcotic (Heroin). Research indicates that heroin snorting is widespread and is increasing in those areas of the country where high-purity heroin is available (Heroin).
From Flowers to Heroin. The Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved July 07, 2006 at http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/heroin/flowers_to_heroin.htm
Gupta, B.S. (1997, January 01). Personality characteristics of persons addicted to heroin. The Journal of Psychology. Retrieved July 07, 2006 from HighBeam Research Library.
Heroin. Street Drugs. Retrieved July 07, 2006 at http://www.streetdrugs.org/heroin.htm
NIDA InfoFacts: Heroin. (2006 April). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved July 07, 2006 at http://www.nida.nih.gov/Infofacts/heroin.html
Patalano, Frank. (1998, November 01). Cross-cultural similarities in the personality dimensions of heroin users. The Journal of Psychology. Retrieved July 07, 2006 from HighBeam Research Library.
Scott, Ian. (1998, June 01). A hundred-year habit.(centenary of Bayer's chemical medicinal - heroin). History Today. Retrieved July 07, 2006 from HighBeam Research Library.
Simon, Scott. (1998, September 19). When Heroin was Legal. Weekend Saturday:
National Public Radio (NPR). Retrieved July 07, 2006 from HighBeam Research…[continue]
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