Medical Definition of Heroin addiction

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/27/2018

Heroin addiction: Physical addiction to heroin, often with concurrent use of other opiates when heroin itself is not available. Treatment is by opiates withdrawal, either gradual or sudden. Medication may be used to ease the physical effects of withdrawal, which include goosebumps, cramping, body aches, nausea, and intense craving. Opiate blockers and agonist/antagonist drugs may be used to alleviate the symptoms and speed up the withdrawal process and assist the addict with maintaining compliance. Methadone is used for a slow gradual withdrawal. Additional interventions are counseling, 12 step program, treatment with antidepressants and mood stabilizers.



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Reviewed on 12/27/2018