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Heroin and Sleep Disorders

Heroin and Sleep DisordersHeroin is an opiate synthesized from morphine, a drug found in poppy plants. It comes as a white or brownish powder, or as a black, sticky tar (the powder is typically laced with other substances, though pure heroin is popular with affluent users who prefer to smoke or snort it). However, most users inject heroin directly into the bloodstream for a euphoric rush that happens in a matter of seconds. People with sleep disorders may take heroin to self-medicate their problems, but this drug can disrupt healthy sleep patterns and make disorders worse. Seek professional help to break heroin addiction and to address sleep problems at the same time.

Types of Sleep Disorders

Per a 2012 IMS Health report, between 2006 and 2011 the number of prescription sleep medications distributed by pharmacies went from 13 million to 60 million, meaning sleep disorders have become quite common. In fact, many people struggle with the following sleep issues:

  • Insomnia, which makes it difficult to induce and maintain sleep
  • Excessive sleep, such as narcolepsy and hypersomnia
  • Rapid eye movement behavior disorder, which makes sleepers act out violent dreams
  • Restless legs syndrome, teeth grinding and periodic limb movement disorder

To self-medicate their symptoms, people may abuse heroin for a relaxing, euphoric high, but this habit can actually intensify sleep disorders.

How Heroin Affects Sleep

Heroin often induces a drowsy state, but this drug can also damage sleep habits in any of the following ways:

  • Create alternating states of drowsiness and alertness
  • Produce irregular dream cycles and night terrors
  • Reduce total sleep hours, especially during early stages of use
  • Inhibit rapid eye movement sleep and block deeper sleep stages
  • Decrease healthy, sleep-related changes in brain chemistry
  • Leave users feeling sleepy without being able to fall asleep
  • Make sleep shallower and lacking physiological benefits
  • Motivate more heroin use through heightened pain sensitivity

While heroin does affect sleep disorders, an addiction may also cause the following problems:

  • Increasing obsessive behavior about consuming and acquiring heroin
  • Physical health issues like organ damage, infection and serious disease
  • Compromised immune system paired with nausea, vomiting and cramps
  • Acceleration of mood disorders like anxiety, paranoia and panic attacks

A 2010 Anesthesiology journal article says opiates decrease the levels of adenosine, a neurotransmitter that assists in homeostatic sleep regulation. Altering these levels may contribute to sleep disorders, and the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology in 2008 reveals how sleep problems can motivate substance abuse. In other words, people need help to address heroin abuse and sleep disorders at the same time.

Treatment for Heroin Abuse and Sleep Disorders

When treating heroin addiction, rehab centers also screen for sleep disorders so they can treat both issues at the same time with the following therapies:

  • Counseling to recognize heroin abuse triggers and ways to deflect them
  • Behavioral therapies that target unhealthy thought patterns and beliefs
  • Yoga, meditation and other holistic therapies that promote healthy sleep
  • Group therapy to discuss motivation for substance abuse
  • Aftercare support with local recovery groups and counseling

Treatment centers also provide medically supervised detox that may taper doses with pharmaceutical support. Recovery is possible with the right help.

Find Treatment for Heroin Addiction and Sleep Disorders

Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline right now to discuss your problems with one of our admissions coordinators. They can answer questions about addiction, sleep disorders and treatment while checking your health insurance policy for benefits. Seek help now to begin recovery.