One of the most common addictions I see people have that come through these doors is heroin addiction. Be it pill form, shooting up or smoking it—I have seen everyone from a few months of abuse, to a few decades and more of abuse. The older someone is, the more apparent their physical symptoms of heroin addiction is, and that is due to the slower turnover rate of cells in a person as they age. A common give-a-way to heroin addiction is weight loss and a HORRIBLE skin (also a dead give-a-away to methamphetamine addiction.)
Initially, many heroin abusers can conceal the signs and symptoms that they are addicted to this powerful drug. Once a user has built a tolerance to heroin, this is when a loved one, coworker, or anyone close to the user can become aware of the addiction. The physical symptoms that begin to emerge are as follows: weight-loss, track marks (usually hidden in inconspicuous areas of the body), scabs and a frequent runny nose. The emotional symptoms are compulsive lying, extreme fatigue, a decrease in physical appearance and hygiene, lack of interest in activities (that were once enjoyable to this person), and acting hostile towards others.
The people that come into “Child Wise” are at all different stages of their heroin addiction. At around three months, one might notice this person has lost a significant amount of weight, they have open sores on their face (from constant scratching and is medically referred to as dermotillomania—a psychological condition related to an impulse control disorder and anxiety.) I see patients come in and they are picking at their skin as they sit there and talk to me. I can feel the anxiety overwhelming them as they complain about their restless legs and hot/cold sweats.
The most severe risk factors for heroin withdrawal are seizure(s), persistent diarrhea and vomiting (may lead to elevated blood sodium level and can result in heart failure), severe dehydration and severe depression which can result in suicide. The reason centers like “Child Wise” are so important for the public is because all of the aforementioned side effects of withdrawals can be prevented with proper medical intervention and licensed medical supervision.
When a patient has to come to an addiction center because they are at the point in their addiction when it is no longer safe to discontinue the drug, this is when the dreaded withdrawal symptoms must be addressed. Unfortunately, there are only so many withdrawal medications that can be provided to relieve physical and mental stress. Most of the withdrawal symptoms must run their course; the physicians and nursing staff will be there to mediate any health risks during the process.
One great upside to working here at “Child Wise” is that I get to witness people come in in the worst way and then evolve into this healthy, nice and presentable person. Everything from the skin sores and abnormal body weight to the mood swings and irritability becomes ameliorated. In a way, it is kind of like my personal version of The Swan but where there are professionals that care more about the inside than the outside of their patients.
I also found a video with stories from long-term experienced heroin-addicted, who were not afraid to tell about all their difficulties openly so you can see it all by yourself.