Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine, which is taken from various opium poppy plants. Heroin can be white or brown powder and is commonly known as big H, horse, hell dust, and smack. Heroin is injected, snorted or smoked and provides a heroin high or a “rush” feeling. Heroin is extremely addictive and causes a psychological dependency on its users. If you or a loved one are experiencing heroin addiction, a professional heroin rehab facility will offer the best chance of recovering successfully.
About Heroin Addiction and Abuse
Heroin is a highly addictive substance that affects people from all walks of life. The amount of people using heroin is on a steady rise throughout the United State and the world. Heroin works by entering the brain fast and binds to opioid receptors on cells located in many areas of the brain. In general, the use of heroin is generally associated with a feeling of euphoria. More than 5.1 million people in America are addicted to heroin.
What is Heroin?
Heroin is a opioid drug that is made from morphine that occurs naturally in the seed pod of opium poppy plants. These plants grow native in Columbia, Southwest Asia, Southeast Asia, and Mexico. Heroin can be a white or brown powder but is sometimes a black sticky substance known as black tar heroin. Other names for heroin include big H, horse, hell dust, and smack. Heroin can be injected, snorted, sniffed, or smoked.
Signs and Symptoms
There are many heroin symptoms, some are immediate, some delayed, and some that manifest after long term use. Immediate symptoms of heroin use in some users include dry mouth, itching, vomiting, and nausea. Once the immediate symptoms of heroin subside, other symptoms are likely to develop, these include:
- Severe itching
- Heavy feeling in arms and legs
- Nausea or vomiting
- Warm flushing of the skin
- Nodding in and out of sleep stage
- Dry mouth
There are also behavioral signs of a person suspected of engaging in the use of heroin, or heroin addiction. Looks for changes in behavior, “track marks” on the body, secretive behavior, and/or in possession of drug paraphernalia.
Effects of Heroin Abuse
There are many long-term effects of heroin addiction and there is a fine line between use, abuse, and addiction. One of the most troubling effects of heroin abuse is what happens to the brain. Heroin abuse can impair an individual’s decision-making skills, behavior regulation, and how one responds to stressful situations. For people who inject heroin, circulatory system problems and collapsed veins could develop. Also, the more one uses heroin, the more is needed over time to have the same desired effect, which could trigger an overdose. For heroin users that inject the drug, sharing drug injection equipment can increase the risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. Some long-term effects of heroin may also include:
- Infection of the heart lining and valves
- Constipation and stomach cramping
- Cognitive damage and loss; memory loss
- Depression, anxiety, and moodiness
- Liver or kidney disease due to the drug’s toxicity
An overdose of heroin usually occurs when a large dose is taken causing the heart rate and breathing to slow down or stop. The effects of an overdose cannot be reversed without medical intervention. Naloxone (e.g., Narcan®) is administered to reverse the opioid overdose. Naloxone works by quickly binding to opioid receptors and blocking the effects of heroin and other opioid drugs. It is possible that in some cases more than one dose may be needed to get the individual breathing again. There are several symptoms to look for if an overdose is suspected.
- Very small pupils
- Dry mouth
- Shallow or stopped breathing
- Bluish lip and fingertips
- Weak or dull pulse
An overdose could result in a coma or death.
Who is Using Heroin?
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicates that nearly 5.1 million people used heroin in 2015. According to Drugfreeworld.org, 9.2 million people worldwide use heroin today. The rise of heroin abuse has reached epidemic proportions. There is a consistent rise of heroin addiction across the world and the United States. Deaths due to heroin overdoses have risen so much over the past few years that police departments have started to carry naloxone in addition to many first responders. The most addictive population of heroin abuse are young people ages 18-29 and individuals 30-44 year olds. The number of individuals that are reported to use heroin for the first time is on the rise. It is also important to note that heroin abuse is no longer mainly an issue for urban areas. There are many reports of heroin abuse in suburban and even rural areas of the United States.
Recovering from heroin is possible, and there are a large number of rehab facilities that provide heroin addiction treatment. There are a few different types of rehabilitation facilities available. Inpatient rehab provides patients a structured routine with support groups, activities, and therapy. Inpatient heroin rehab offers the highest level of supervision and can last anywhere between 30 and 90 days. Outpatient rehabilitation is another option where patients can receive treatment for heroin addiction while they remain living at home, going to school or going to work. It is recommended however that patients with a heroin addiction seek out an inpatient facility to ensure there are no outside distractions or temptations.
What to Expect from Heroin Rehab
In general, heroin rehab includes an assessment that goes over the severity of the patient’s addiction, along with their medical and drug history. Detoxification is usually the first step in rehabilitation. Many patients who have a heroin addiction will be prescribed medications to help with the withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Once detoxification is complete, the patient will begin their treatment program, which can include life skills, communication skills, therapy, counseling, and more.
The amount of time heroin rehab takes significantly varies. Some rehabilitation facilities don’t have a time limit, and patients can stay as long as it takes to become clean, sober, and confident with their life again. Other facilities have a limit on how long a patient can stay. When looking for a heroin rehab facility, ensure you research each facility and find one that best fits your or your loved one’s specific needs.
Preventing Heroin Relapse
Relapse doesn’t have to be necessary and is preventable. Ways to ensure that you or your loved one do not relapse:
- Continue attending counseling sessions: Heroin can affect the brain reward system long after the drug has left the body. Minor upsets or stressful moments can make a person want to use again. However, support for a counseling session can help alleviate temptations and keep the patient on track.
- Don’t discontinue medications: Patients who have been prescribed medications should continue to take them until advised by a doctor that it is safe to stop. These medications are intended to help with the withdrawal symptoms and cravings for heroin.
- Beware of new prescriptions: Taking a new prescription that is opiate-based without realizing it can lead to a relapse. Recovering heroin addicts who need surgery should be honest with their physician about their addiction to stay away from opiate-based painkillers.
Rehabilitation from Heroin at Serenity Point
Heroin addiction can occur before quickly, making it hard for patients to see that they have a problem. We understand that addiction is a real issue in the US and we want to do everything we possibly can to help as many people as possible come off drugs safely. We have the knowledge and tools to help our patients become clean, sober, and confident with their life again.
Our founders have done years of research on detoxification, addiction, and rehabilitation, and we have the experience necessary to get people off drugs and living a fulfilling life. If you or a loved one are struggling with a heroin addiction, you should find out how our heroin rehab services can help. Call us at our toll-free number to speak with one of our advisors.