The Harrowing Truth of Heroin Addiction

It’s highly addictive and still one of the most popular drugs around, but what is heroin, what are the dangers and what does it take to kick the habit?

It’s an odd thing to realize, but just like hot diets and fashion fads, drugs go through cycles of popularity. When it comes to heroin, it experienced a definite surge in popularity in the ‘90s, with a string of high profile musicians becoming strung out. Heroin even made its way into the music’s lyrics at times, with not-so-veiled references to the dangerous drug. And eventually – and predictably — it had tragic consequences for A-level acts like Nirvana and the Red Hot Chili Peppers as well as many others in the rock world and beyond.

While heroin may no longer be the drug du jour, being featured regularly on magazine covers and profiled in newspaper articles, it’s still ruining lives at an alarming rate. This illegal, highly addictive drug remains a serious problem in the U.S., with the dubious distinction of being the most abused and most rapidly acting of the opiates. Worse still, heroin is particularly addictive because it enters the brain so rapidly. One contributing factor to the drug’s ongoing popularity may be its cheap price tag. A single dose of heroin can be cheaper than a six-pack of beer and provide a much more intense high, a fact that isn’t lost on young people eager to experiment.


Heroin Facts

The drug known as heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of certain varieties of poppy plants. Ironically, heroin was originally developed as a substitute for morphine in an effort to deal with morphine’s highly addictive properties. However, it was quickly recognized that heroin is even more addictive than morphine, and as a result the drug was made illegal.

Pure heroin is a white powder with a bitter taste. Most illicit heroin is sold as a white or brownish powder and is usually “cut” with other drugs or with substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk or quinine. It can also be cut with strychnine or other poisons. Another form of heroin known as “black tar” may be sticky like roofing tar or hard like coal, and its color may vary from dark brown to black.

Heroin Street Names

Heroin goes by a string of many street names, with more being added to the list. Currently, you can hear it called Street Smack, H, Skag, Junk, Brown Sugar, Horse, Mud and Black Tar.

Heroin Use

Heroin is most often injected, however, high-purity heroin may also be snorted or smoked. Although smoking and sniffing heroin do not produce as intense or as immediate of a “rush” as intravenous injection, research confirms that all three methods of heroin use are addictive.

With regular heroin use, tolerance develops and more heroin is needed to achieve the same intensity or effect. As higher doses are used over time, physical dependence and addiction develop. With physical dependence, the body has adapted to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms may occur if use is reduced or stopped. Additionally, because heroin users do not know the actual strength of the drug or its true contents, they are at risk for a wide range of severe health conditions.

Health Hazards of Heroin:

  • Spontaneous abortion
  • Collapsed veins
  • Infection of the heart lining and valves
  • Pneumonia
  • Needle sharing can also spread infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis
  • A heroin overdose can easily result in death

Heroin Addiction and Overdose

Those addicted to heroin will exhibit periods of extreme euphoria immediately after using, followed by drowsiness. Mental functioning is impaired as is respiration. Pupils are constricted and nausea is common. Signs of heroin overdose include shallow breathing, pinpoint pupils, clammy skin, convulsions and coma.

Treating Heroin Addiction

The first step in treating heroin addiction is to rid the body of the drug and its residual toxins. This happens during heroin detox, a process that may include side effects including drug craving, vomiting, restlessness, bone and muscle pain, diarrhea, cold flashes, chills and kicking spasms. Major withdrawal symptoms usually peak between 48 to 72 hours after the last heroin dose and slowly subside in the days to follow. This is a difficult and taxing process, but with medical supervision and emotional support, The Oaks at La Paloma Treatment Center sees success on a regular basis.

Heroin Rehab

Rehabilitation is an important part of the recovery process from heroin addiction. In addition to discontinuing drug use, treatment helps individuals establish a foundation of recovery and begin to function effectively in the family, workplace and community.

The goal of the drug rehabilitation program at The Oaks at La Paloma is to offer integrative treatment and education about chemical dependency to support the long-term changes needed to live a drug-free lifestyle.

Key Components of The Oaks at La Paloma Heroin Drug Rehab:

  • Helping individuals make important lifestyle changes
  • Teaching skills instrumental in successful abstinence
  • Developing tools for coping
  • Helping clients manage feelings
  • Identifying the warning signs of relapse
  • Designing effective strategies for prevention of relapse

Statistics show that without a solid plan to avoid or handle addiction triggers, patients often relapse into the behavior that brought them to the drug treatment facility in the first place. Conversely, research shows that 70 to 80 percent of The Oaks at La Paloma’s clients abstained from using drugs and alcohol up to one year following treatment.

If you have questions about heroin detox and rehab, please contact us at our toll free number 24 hours a day. Admissions coordinators are standing by to help you being the process of recovery today.

Articles posted here are primarily educational and may not directly reflect the offerings at The Oaks. For more specific information on programs at The Oaks, contact us today.