Opiate / Heroin Addiction & Withdrawal Treatment

What is an opiate?

Opiates, also referred to as opioids, are a type of drug derived from the opium plant (or synthetically developed to emulate the effects of opium) and include certain prescription painkillers, including:

  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydrocodone and acetaminophen (e.g. Vicodin)
  • Oxycodone (e.g. OxyContin)
  • Oxycodone and acetaminophen (e.g. Percocet)
  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Methadone

Commonly used by doctors to relieve pain, opiates are potent drugs that work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other areas of the body, thus reducing the intensity of pain signals to the brain and reducing the feelings of pain. Opiates and opioids can be highly addictive, particularly when used improperly. Opiates can also be used to create heroin.

The Psychiatry Group is currently treating patients with opiate addiction in Washington state and will soon be providing treatment for patients in other States in the Pacific Northwest. Reach out today.

What is heroin?

Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive drug that is processed from morphine. It is called a semi-synthetic opiate because it’s made not directly from the opium poppy, but from morphine, which is a derivative. Heroin is made when morphine is mixed with the chemical compound acetic anhydride, creating a chemical reaction. The drug may then be purified using chemical or mechanical means.

Usually snorted, smoked, or injected intravenously, heroin has many forms and varieties, but it is most commonly found in a hard, tar-like form (impure heroin) or white powder (pure heroin).

When heroin enters the brain, it acts similarly to a prescription opiate, repressing the area of the brain responsible for pain reception. This area of the brain also regulates important body functions, such as breathing and blood pressure. Those who experience a heroin overdose are often unable to supply the brain with enough oxygen and can suffer from permanent brain damage or coma.

Research shows that long-term use of heroin increases the body’s tolerance for the drug, requiring higher doses to feel the same effects. Using heroin also creates a dependence on the drug, which is characterized by the need to continue using heroin in order to curb adverse withdrawal effects.

What are the symptoms of opiate / heroin addiction?

Symptoms of opiate or heroin addiction may be noticed by the user, as well as his or her loved ones, friends, and co-workers. Symptoms can vary depending on the stage of use.

Short-Term Symptoms

The following short-term symptoms may indicate opiate or heroin use:

  • Mental fog / lack of focus
  • Slowed breathing and movements
  • Small pupils
  • Nausea
  • Slurred speech
  • Oversleeping or long periods of sleep
  • Chronic constipation

Long-Term Symptoms

Symptoms of long-term opiate or heroin use may include:

  • Weight loss
  • Changes in behavior
  • Sudden and extreme mood swings
  • Skin infections
  • Needle marks and bruising or “tracks” in the area of heroin injection (some users may wear long sleeves even during warm weather to hide these marks)

How do I know if I have an opiate or heroin problem?

If you believe you may have an opiate or heroin addiction, it is important to speak with a professional addiction specialist. The Psychiatry Group is home to experienced addiction psychiatrists who can make a diagnosis based on your symptoms and feedback in order to determine the best treatment plan for your needs. In addition, our doctors can provide continued support through your recovery process, including heroin withdrawal treatment.

What does opiate / heroin addiction treatment involve?

The following opiate addiction and heroin addiction treatment methods may be recommended by The Psychiatry Group:

Opiate / Heroin Addiction Psychotherapy

Opiate / heroin addiction psychotherapy, also known as drug addiction counseling, is a form of talk therapy that can be used to help recovering addicts form healthy habits, coping mechanisms, and strategies for rebuilding relationships and careers that may have been damaged due to drug use.

Opiate / Heroin Withdrawal Medications

Certain medications, such as suboxone, naloxone, methadone, or other drugs, may be used for opiate withdrawal treatment. Prescription medications can be used to prevent relapse and to curb the physical effects of stopping prescription opiate or heroin use cold turkey (without weaning off the use of the drug over time). Blood pressure medications and other relapse-preventing injections may also be used to help with heroin addiction recovery.

Psychological Evaluations

Psychological evaluations may be used to evaluate potential psychological effects that heroin addiction or opiate addiction may have had on the patient.


If you believe you or a loved one may be suffering from an opiate or heroin addiction, an experienced psychiatrist may be able to help. The Psychiatry Group is known for providing high-quality addiction consultations and opiate / heroin addiction treatment. Call 844-495-HELP(4357) today to schedule a consultation.

Our services are currently available to patients in Washington and soon other States in the Pacific Northwest. Reach out today.