Heroin Addiction


Heroin addiction is life-threatening and scary for all parties involved. Thankfully, there are many resources available to find help for heroin addiction. To understand recovery from heroin addiction, it is important to first understand what heroin is, and what addiction to it looks like.

Heroin Addiction

What is Heroin?

Heroin is a highly addictive opioid that is illegally made from morphine. Morphine comes from the seed of an opium poppy plant. Heroin comes in a variety of forms and can be taken in a variety of ways. It can appear as a white or brown powder, or a dark, sticky substance referred to as black-tar Heroin. People will snort, smoke, or inject heroin directly into their veins to achieve a high.

Heroin addiction often is formed from a prior addiction to prescription opioid pain-relievers (painkillers). An article from NCDAS (National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics) states that 80% of heroin users have used prescription opioids.

When a person is prescribed opioid pain-relievers such as Percocet or OxyContin, they can become psychically dependent on the drug by the time the prescription runs out. To avoid withdrawal, people will turn to purchase prescription narcotics illegally, but they are expensive and hard to obtain. This can turn people to heroin. Heroin is cheaper, easier to obtain, and produces the same effects as prescription pain-relievers. However, statistics prove that many heroin users turn straight to the drug without prior use of any opioids.

The Dangers of Heroin Addiction

An addiction to any opioid is very dangerous as overdose is a very real possibility. According to the NCDAS, approximately 50,000 people die every year from an opioid overdose. Because heroin is produced and distributed illegally, it is often cut with other substances, the most common being Fentanyl. Fentanyl is the deadliest of all opioids with its lethal dose being only three milligrams compared to a lethal dose of heroin being thirty milligrams. The unfortunate fact is that most people will purchase what they believe is heroin, but instead it is fentanyl, which increases the probability of an overdose.

Overdose is only one of the risks that come with the use of heroin. Heroin users who use needles have a higher chance of contracting HIV/Aids, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C, by sharing needles.

Other risks of long-term Heroin use can include:

  • Collapsed veins
  • Infections
  • Kidney and liver disease
  • Lung disease
  • Heart complications
  • Death

Signs of Heroin Addiction

The signs of heroin addiction will vary case by case depending on several things. This includes each individual’s life circumstances, frequency of use, and dependency on the drug. A few common signs of heroin addiction include:

  • Constricted or “pinned” pupils
  • Itching
  • Falling asleep or “nodding out” during daily activities
  • Slurred speech
  • Track marks on arms or legs
  • Disorientation
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Irritability
  • Isolating from loved ones
  • A decrease in performance at school or work
  • Financial irresponsibility

If you recognize any of these signs in yourself or a loved one, it is a good time to start seeking help and information for treatment options.

Recovery Options for Heroin Addiction

When using heroin, a psychical dependence on the drug can form quickly. Physical dependence is formed when a substance is used routinely over a long period of time. The body changes to accommodate the substance and tolerance is built. When this happens, stopping the intake of the drug can be dangerous. Withdrawal symptoms are serious and can cause complications that can be life-threatening. Withdrawal symptoms from heroin can include:

disease model of addiction

  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Body and muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Depression
  • Muscle spasms
  • Labored breathing

As a person goes through withdrawal, it can be so unbearable that it can bring about intense cravings for the drug they are trying to detox from. It is highly recommended to seek out a medical detox center to safely and effectively complete detox from heroin. Detox centers are staffed with medical professionals to provide medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to ease withdrawal symptoms. Upon admission to a detox, an individualized plan is put in place according to each client’s needs. Typically detox from heroin can take anywhere from 5-10 days. After a successful detox, it is strongly encouraged that the client continues their treatment in an inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment program to start them on the path to a successful recovery.

How Moving Mountains Recovery Can Help

At Moving Mountains Recovery, our primary goal is to help clients recover while simultaneously helping them to build a life where they no longer feel the desire to use drugs or alcohol. We have compassionate, educated, and professional staff who are ready to help you start the journey of recovery from heroin. Give us a call today!



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