What You Need To Know About Heroin Addiction

Heroin is one of the United States’ most commonly abused street drugs. It is categorized as an illicit drug that causes adverse effects to its users. Heroin gains its popularity in recreational use from its ability to make users feel a euphoric high. Unfortunately, its widespread use comes with hard consequences, with thousands dying from heroin overdose every year. This piece will focus on educating about heroin, common signs of addiction, effects, overdose, and addiction treatment.

What is Heroin?

Heroin is an illicit drug derived from the broader loop of drugs known as opioids. On the streets, heroin is called by nicknames such as horse, smack, and dope. It is derived from the opium poppy plant after morphine has been retrieved. While heroin may have been used in the early 1900s as a medication to treat coughs, today it has been listed as an illegal substance. Its high potential in causing addiction, abuse and in severe cases, death, makes it an illicit drug in the medical world.

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Why do People Abuse Heroin?

Heroin is known for its pain-relieving abilities. However, most addicts use heroin for its drowsy, high, relaxed, and peaceful effects. It may also cause short-term relief from depression, stress, and anxiety. Unlike other opioids that require a doctor’s prescription, heroin is found in the streets, making it more accessible to most addicts than other opioids.

How is Heroin Used?

People use heroin in various ways depending on how intense they want to feel the effects. Snorting is common, because a large portion of the drug gets delivered to the brain. Smoking and injections are also widely used fast-acting delivery methods.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Addiction?

Your loved one may exhibit some of the following signs in terms of behavior, physical, psycho-social, or cognitive symptoms.

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Unexplained possession of syringes, foils, and needles
  • Reduced participation in previous hobbies
  • Constant lying and deceptive acts

Physical signs:

  • Dry mouth
  • Persistent runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Irregular sleeping patterns
  • Irregular heart rates
  • Sores and needle marks on the arms
  • Drastic weight loss
  • Frequent unexplained fatigue

Cognitive signs:

  • Impaired judgment
  • Lack of concentration
  • Frequent episodes of confusion and disorientation

Psycho-social symptoms:

  • Aggressive behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Isolation and withdrawal from friends and family

What are the Effects of Heroin Addiction?

If heroin addiction is left untreated for a prolonged time, the effects become dangerous. Usually, this happens because the drug causes a significant impact on how an individual makes decisions under the influence. It may lead to financial distress, overdose, death, joblessness, suicidal attempts, and strained relationships.


Treatment for heroin addiction involves detoxifying the body, stopping its use, and finding ways to recover while preventing relapse. Depending on how heavy a person uses heroin, they will start to feel the cravings for heroin about six to twelve hours after last use.

The first stage of detox will have patients going through withdrawal symptoms that range from mild to moderate. They include:

  • Nausea
  • Cramping
  • Cold sweats
  • Body aches

As the detoxifying phases progress, the patient will experience:

  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Aggressiveness
  • Physical tremor
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of focus and concentration
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Intense craving for heroin
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Anxiety

Doctors may administer some medications depending on the severity of the withdrawal symptoms that should help with easing the effects. They include:

  • Methadone, which reduces withdrawal symptoms and changes how the brain responds to pain, making the detoxifying process bearable.
  • Buprenorphine, which counters the effects of heroin.
  • Naltrexone, which helps manage the craving of heroin.

Why Professional Treatment is Vital

Some side effects of the withdrawal process can be too severe and, at times, fatal. Professional help ensures that the patient gets monitored and that additional medication to counter the impacts are administered. Also, there is a high probability of relapse if the patient isn’t monitored. Relapse often occurs when a patient tries to escape the adverse effects of the withdrawal symptoms and also as a way to give in to the cravings.

Heroin addiction treatment is better coupled with rehabilitation to help with emotional and psychological recovery of a patient. Coupling drug rehab and detox significantly reduce heroin dependency and give an individual the chance to recover fully.

Do you suspect that a loved one has been struggling with heroin addiction? You could help save their life by taking action and getting the right information about the condition. A significant percentage of fatal cases can be avoided if managed early and if the patients are given moral support throughout the recovery process.

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