Heroin use is on the rise in the United States as people increasingly seek stronger alternatives to prescription opioids. While this may be an unfortunate fact, it does mean that people struggling with heroin addiction are not alone. In brief, heroin is a highly addictive opioid that leaves users with a pleasurable feeling. This euphoric “rush” can make quitting heroin very difficult. Despite the gratifying high, however, people with heroin addictions run the risk of suffering painful heroin withdrawal symptoms and even fatal overdoses.
Watching a loved one struggle with addiction can be similarly painful. Thus, the ability to understand and identify the signs of heroin addiction is important in order to catch the problem as early as possible. It is crucial for those addicted to heroin to get the help they need sooner rather than later, to avoid exacerbating the issues caused by addiction. Give us a call today at 912-214-3867 for more information on addiction treatment options. We can help you discover the program that is right for your journey to an addiction-free life.
Heroin addiction is an increasingly common issue in the United States, and many people feel they cannot live without it. Learn more about the signs and dangers of heroin addiction, and discover the treatment programs that can help you overcome the struggle as soon as possible.
The Basics of Heroin
Heroin is an illegal drug processed from the naturally-occurring opioid, morphine. It produces similar pain-relieving effects, but it enters the brain rapidly and can create a more immediate response in the user. A heroin high is characterized by a sudden surge of euphoria followed by a prolonged feeling of well-being and detachment from pain.
Heroin is typically sold as a white powder that can be snorted through the nose, injected into a vein or muscle, or smoked by heating and inhaling its vapors. It can also take the form of a dark, sticky substance known as “black tar.”
Other alternative names for heroin include:
- China white
Familiarity with these alternative names can help you know what to listen for if you are worried about a loved one using heroin.
What Does Heroin Feel Like?
Firstly, heroin works by activating certain receptors in the reward center of the brain, which stimulate the release of dopamine and cause a highly pleasurable sensation. Following this initial instant “rush,” which typically lasts up to a few minutes, users enter a state of sedation and tranquility. This period, sometimes referred to as being “on the nod,” can last for hours afterward.
Why is Heroin so Addictive?
It is important to realize that the effects of using heroin can differ from person to person depending on factors such as the user’s age, the amount and frequency of doses, and the method used to take the drug. For the most part, however, heroin use comes with a strong likelihood of developing tolerance and physical dependence. Tolerance means needing higher doses of a drug to achieve the desired effects. As a result, a person will continue to need more of the drug each time they use.
The Danger of Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
Eventually, tolerance will lead to physical dependence, which occurs when your body has adapted to the presence of the drug and can no longer function normally without it. Users with a physical dependence will therefore experience negatives effects if they suddenly stop using the drug. In fact, many long-time users of heroin have reported that they no longer experience any pleasure when they take it and only continue their heroin use to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Once a person has stopped using heroin, withdrawal symptoms can occur within a few hours. Symptoms often subside after about a week following the last dose, although some users can experience withdrawal symptoms for many months.
Some common signs of heroin withdrawal include:
- Intense drug cravings
- Loss of appetite
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Nausea and vomiting
- Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
- Chills and goosebumps
- Body aches
- Muscle spasms
- Severe depression
These symptoms, albeit uncomfortable, are rarely life-threatening on their own. However, periods of withdrawal often lead to relapse when people return to using heroin to alleviate the discomfort. Sometimes, when people are treated for heroin addiction, medications are prescribed during this initial detoxification stage to ease craving and other symptoms that can lead to relapse.
While withdrawal symptoms are not inherently dangerous, a withdrawal period can significantly reduce a user’s tolerance. As a result, returning to a regular dose could be enough to cause fatal overdose. A heroin overdose causes breathing to slow significantly or even stop completely. Additional signs of a heroin overdose include inability to rouse from unconsciousness and cold, bluish skin. If you are suffering from symptoms of heroin addiction, then call us today. Our experts can help you get the treatment that you need.
How to Recognize Heroin Addiction
Not all people who use heroin become addicted, but addiction is still a common issue. Once a user is addicted to heroin, it can be undeniably difficult to stop, and continued use can adversely affect the user’s health as well as their daily life. However, this does not mean that recovery is impossible, especially with the right tools at your disposal. Although addiction is a common problem, it may not look the same for everyone.
Generally, drug addiction is characterized by needing more of the substance over time, experiencing the withdrawal symptoms outlined above, and being unable to quit, even when the user recognizes the problem. Knowing the signs of addiction is important for identifying the problem as soon as possible.
People who are addicted to heroin may exhibit the following:
- Desire to quit or cut down, or unsuccessful attempts to quit
- Excessive time and effort spent to obtain, use, and recover from heroin
- Failure to fulfill responsibilities at work, school, or home as a result of heroin use
- Continued use of heroin despite the negative consequences
- Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable
- Signs of opioid intoxication (e.g., nodding off, pinpoint pupils)
With this in mind, remember that if you are concerned about a loved one exhibiting these signs, you do not have to wait until they hit rock bottom to approach them about their behavior. Treatment is helpful at any stage of addiction and is not just for those with severe symptoms. Of course, it is always a good idea to speak with a professional if you are considering approaching a loved on about their addiction. Call our professionals today and learn the best way to confront someone you are worried about.
Addiction Treatment Options
In any case, the first step towards recovery is asking for help. Addiction is not a battle that should be fought alone. An important fact to remember is that many others have succeeded in moving past their addictions, proving that treatment is a realistic possibility for people currently struggling. Furthermore, understanding the options available to you can make the recovery process seem less daunting. Below are common types of addiction treatment.
Inpatient treatment is the most rigorous type of treatment, typically recommended for people with severe addictions. People who receive this type of treatment stay for a certain length of time at a specialized facility, where they undergo individual therapy, group therapy, or classes. In general, the goal of these therapies is to help change behaviors related to drug use and provide safer coping skills for life stressors.
This type of treatment provides much of the same therapy and education as inpatient treatment but allows you to stay at your own home. Due to this flexibility, it may be favorable to people who have commitments that prevent them from going away for an extended period of time.
In this type of treatment, people live in communities with others who are also in recovery. This provides accountability and peer support they may not have at home. Additionally, these communities typically have certain rules to follow and chores or responsibilities to be carried out.
People in non-intensive outpatient treatment attend group or individual therapy on a regular basis, typically once a week. Therefore, this treatment is often recommended for people who have been addiction free for some time.
Finally, support groups are organized groups of peers who struggle with similar addictions. Support groups can help you gain a sense of community and learn from the experiences of others. If you are unsure which treatment option is best for you, or you want more information, then call us today. Our experts will make sure you know all of your options, and that you are given the proper treatment to help make your life happier and healthier.
Get the Help You Need
Life beyond addiction may seem out of reach right now, but with the right assistance, recovery is absolutely possible. Although your situation may feel isolated and uncomfortable, is it not a reason for shame, and simply asking for help can make a drastic difference. As illustrated, success in overcoming addiction is attainable through proper treatment.
In summary, whether you are struggling with heroin use yourself or seeking assistance for a loved one, remember that you are not alone. The stigma surrounding illicit drugs like heroin and drug addiction in general can make it difficult to ask for help, even when you recognize a need for it. But there is no shame in reaching out. Life without addiction is indeed within your reach, and we can help you find the approach best suited to your needs. Call us today at the number below for more information on recovery options in your area.
Written by Alina Gonzalez
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