By Kennedy Shelley
The opioid crisis kills over 130 people a day in the US according to the Department of Human Services.
While the number of overdoses from heroin and prescription pain killers has been dropping because of a government crackdown and lawsuits against the manufacturers of opioid pain killers, it still remains a serious problem.
The question is how do you help addicts get over this powerful addiction?
Heroin is the second most addictive drug known to man according to The National Survey on Drug Use and Health survey.
It produces profound physiological and psychological dependence because it overstimulates the opioid pleasure centers of the brain.
Nearly 25% of those who try heroin become addicted.
When users quit, they go through terrible withdrawals which include flu like symptoms, anxiety, and insomnia as well as a psychological obsession for the next hit.
Quitting cold turkey without medical supervision can be dangerous.
Many people die from sudden acute withdrawal, or more commonly they withdraw partially, lower their tolerance for the drug and then overdose when they go back to the drug.
Many addicts want to quit but can’t make it through the withdrawal symptoms.
There are many treatment options including using methadone which helps mask the withdrawal and can be more slowly tapered down.
But it requires a prescription and medical supervision and many addicts want to avoid any stigma associated with an addiction on their medical records, so they look for herbal remedies to manage the withdrawal and help them get this monkey off their back.
Vietnam is estimated to have over 150,000 heroin addicts at any given moment.
The government sees this as a social evil and treatment is harsh.
Addicts are put in cement cells with a small mat to suffer.
In the 1980’s a traditional herbalist sought to help alleviate the suffering of addicts.
He deliberately got himself addicted to heroin and through self-experimentation put together a cocktail of 13 plant compounds that eased the withdrawal and took away his desire for the drug.
This got the attention of a doctor and researcher Tran Van Sung who is now the director of the Institute of Chemistry.
He helped refine and formalize the concoction.
The herbalist, Tran Khuong Dan found that none of the herbs worked individually, but when blended together, the resulting cocktail worked well.
The treatment has been getting international attention since 1997 when the UN spent over $400,000 to study it.
Norway became interested after the initial reports and word of this concoction slowly spread.
The amount of money being spent on a drug trial in Vietnam created some backlash in traditional medical circles there because that is a large amount of money in this country.
Rumors started being spread that people were dying after the use of the compound, but there is no evidence that this really happened.
There is also no “double blind” trials on the use of Heantos to see if it is actually effective at reducing withdrawal symptoms or helping to keep addicts clean in the long term.
Germany is doing a study on the effectiveness of the treatment now.
Manufacturing Heantos is a difficult process.
Maintaining standardization of herbs is always difficult, and the blending processes is reportedly exacting.
Because it hasn’t been tested nor has the formulation been standardized, we can’t recommend people suffering from opioid addiction try it.
But you may see ads for this new miracle cure on Facebook and other places, but just understand that this was the only alternative to cold turkey withdrawal in Vietnam so when people talk about success stories from that country these are not being compared to treatment options available in the US.