The use of heroin can destroy a person’s life and devastate those closest to them. Let’s take a look at how you can help a loved one or close friend who is a regular ‘Smack’ user and is currently unable or unwilling to stop use.
Educate yourself in order to educate them:
All heroin users are aware that this highly addictive drug is causing harm to themselves and those closest to them, but many do not understand the full extent of their actions or the potential dangers they are opening themselves up to.
If you want to help someone kick heroin it is vitally important that you arm yourself with as much knowledge about it as possible.
The simple fact is the more you know about the drug and about heroin addiction the better placed you will be to understand the problems they are facing. You will also be in a positive position to explain facts about the drug and the dangers of continued use.
It must be remembered that while this will be a difficult time for the addict it will be no walk in the park for you. Your emotions will be turned every which way. Anger and resentment will alternate with compassion and concern, so mentally you will need to be tough.
Points that should regularly be discussed:
Whether an addict wants to hear facts or not things need to be said. Here are some issues that you need to understand and that need to be openly discussed with the user:
- The short term risks of heroin use.
- The long term risks of heroin use.
- Withdrawal symptoms – This should be from two angles What withdrawal symptoms should be expected, and how the person coming off heroin will react and cope with them.
- Detox procedures
- Types and effects of any medication that will be used through withdrawal and during recovery.
- What type of Rehab establishment would best suit them?
- What support groups are available and what they offer.
If an addict is unable or unwilling to quit heroin it is important that you explain ways in which they can reduce risk while still dependent and using the drug.
Because your goal will be to get the addict off the drug as quickly as possible this matter may well go against the grain for many, but it is important to understand that patience and persuasion will be required before the user finally admits they are ready to quit.
In the meantime, explain that if they are continuing to use then they should heed the following:
1 Syringe, 1 person, 1 use:
An addict must understand that sharing needles and/or reusing them are most definite ‘No-No’s’. This temptation can be solved by ensuring they know exactly where their nearest needle exchange is and they use it.
This valuable service works by exchanging a new, clean needle for a used one. They do not issue needles without exchange. This procedure ensures the number of syringes in circulation is not being increased by those who provide this service.
Whatever your thoughts are about this type of exchange it is important to bear in mind that they do not increase illegal drug use. Their aim is to reduce the many dangers involved in sharing and reusing needles.
Filtering heroin before use:
Additives and adulterants can be extremely dangerous for a user. It therefore makes sense that the heroin they purchase should be filtered before use. Quinine is just one of several potentially toxic adulterants that are used to cut heroin.
Heroin addicts from past generations have developed ways to filter heroin and there is plenty of information available. The method that best fits with the user should be employed each and every time they ‘score’ a new batch of the drug.
Correct injection methods:
A user will reduce potential blood vessel damage and infection if they understand how to inject correctly. For example, they must be aware that the drug should not be injected directly into the arteries. As well as being painful this route of injection sends the drug away from the heart and will cause pain in a user’s fingers and toes.
Many use a tourniquet, if so, it is important that this is removed before injecting. If not there is a possibility the user will blow out a vein.
Beating heroin addiction can be achieved:
Those addicted to heroin have a huge challenge on their hands if they are to beat this addiction. At best it will blight their life, at worst it can actually cost them their life.
This is why it is so important for a loved one to persevere with help and advice that will at times fall on deaf ears.
Your continued support and encouragement can help tremendously to show those currently addicted the devastating effects this drug has. It will also allow you to explain methods of treatment and exactly how this addiction can be overcome.