Heroin Addiction – The Truth

Heroin addiction is nothing pretty. Of all the drugs running rampant in the nation, heroin is considered by many to be the most feared, most dangerous and most abused of all. And…rightly so. If you are tormented by a heroin addiction or know someone who is, read on to find out the ugly truth about heroin and to learn about the treatment for heroin addiction as well.

Heroin use within the United Kingdom continues to spiral upward with no foreseeable end in sight. It has become much more available in the past few years resulting in more arrests as well as an increase in overdose deaths. Overall, National statistics show that approximately 288,843 adults aged 18 to 99 came into contact with structured treatment for drug addiction during 2015-16, 52% of whom were addicted to heroin or some other opiate. Among opiate addicts, 41% were also addicted to crack cocaine, with the next highest adjunctive drugs being alcohol (21%) and cannabis (19%).

Heroin typically comes in a brown or white powder but can also be found in a dark brown or black, sticky, a tar-like form that is called “tar heroin”. How is heroin used? It can be ingested, injected, inhaled through the nostrils (snorted) or smoked. Horse, smack, junk, tar, brown, and “h” are some of the slang words for heroin.

When heroin is introduced into the body, it converts back into morphine. The substance attaches onto opioid receptor molecule cells within the brain and body that regulate pain and pleasure. Especially when injected, the user feels a heightened sense of warm euphoria which is commonly known as a “rush” followed by a drowsy state often referred to as a “nod”.

It may sound like the perfect high but…it’s not. Heroin addiction affects the brain stem which is the body’s automatic control center for important functions like arousal, respiration and blood pressure, making it extremely dangerous. It can also cause brain damage and impaired thinking.

Who Uses Heroin…and Why?

Heroin does not discriminate. People from all walks of life fall victim to its prey. Males and females…White, Black, Brown…Anglo, Afro, Asian…professionals, laymen, street-people…all have found themselves in its grasp.

Why do people use heroin?  There is no “one size fits all” answer. The reasons are many. Some are looking for that “heavenly high” it’s notorious for. Some want to escape the physical or emotional pain they are in. Others are looking for relief from the withdrawals from an addiction to pharmaceutical drugs like OxyContin.

While you would think that knowing the drug is addicting and dangerous would keep people from trying it. The fact of the matter is that most only intend to do it once. It’s doubtful that anyone tries it, expecting to get hooked. Heroin’s lure is tempting and once it has a user in its grips, it’s hard to get free.

Heroin Addiction Signs of Withdrawal

Heroin is highly addictive. Heroin withdrawal occurs when intake of the drug decreases or stops. It can happen voluntarily when attempting to get off heroin or involuntarily, due to the lack of access.

Generally, it takes roughly twelve hours from the last use of heroin before true withdrawals set in. The actual duration of withdrawal period can last from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the quality and quantity of heroin that was being taken and the length of time the individual has been using. The mental and physical health of the individual is a factor too.

Symptoms of Heroin Addiction

  •     Chills
  •     Fever
  •     Flu-like symptoms
  •     Restlessness
  •     Irritability
  •     Aching muscles
  •     Muscle cramps
  •     Dehydration
  •     Asphyxiation
  •     Excessive sleeping
  •     Inability to sleep
  •     Nausea
  •     Vomiting
  •     Diarrhoea
  •     Constipation
  •     Heart Palpitations
  •     High or low blood pressure
  •     Dizziness
  •     Sinus conditions
  •     Intense heroin cravings
  •     Emotional outbursts
  •     Depression

Signs of Heroin Addiction

Learning how to identify the signs of heroin use is important to helping a loved one or a friend before their addiction gets too far out of control.

  • Excessive sleepiness of “nodding”
  • Track marks where a vein has been repetitively injected.
  • Intermittent spurts of activeness and sleepiness.
  • Small eye pupils.
  • Symptoms of withdrawal after an interval of not using.
  • Desperation to acquire money or to get to a certain location.
  • Hanging with people who exhibit symptoms from the list above.

Heroin Addiction Facts

  • The number of female users has been steadily rising recently.
  • Using heroin along with alcohol or other drugs is very common and very dangerous.
  • People who have an addiction to opioid painkillers are at high risk for heroin abuse.
  • Heroin use is on the increase in the higher income bracket.

The Risks of Heroin Addiction

  • The “heavenly high” quickly goes to the devil when the risks are weighed out. There is a myriad of threats the drug poses such as:
  • Heroin overdose
  • HIV, Hepatitis A and B (when injected)
  • Being arrested
  • Complications of withdrawals
  • Psychological effects (both temporary and permanent)
  • Complications of pregnancy

Heroin Addiction Treatment

Although it is certainly possible for an individual to overcome a heroin addiction on his or her own, it’s not probable. It’s a hard one to kick, especially given the physical implications that go along with it. There are heroin/ Drug rehab centres that offer help, however. You can find both inpatient and outpatient care. Both long and short term durations options are offered.

Many Rehabs and treatment centers are well equipped to handle heroin detox and make the withdrawal process as painless and uncomfortable as possible. Some prescribe Methadone, a slow-acting, low-strength opiate drug commonly used to wean addicts off the drug. Others use Buprenorphine, Naltrexone or other medications. Another advantage to detoxing in a controlled environment is that there is a medical staff on site in case complications arise.