What is Heroin Addiction?
Currently, heroin represents one of the largest drug problems in the United States. Recognizing the signs of heroin use could be the thing that saves your loved one’s life. The best way to help a user is to get them into heroin addiction treatment as soon as possible. Heroin is one of the hardest drugs to stop and has a high potential for relapse, so it is important to help your loved ones get the tools they need to get clean and stay clean.
Heroin is a drug made from the products of the opium poppy and produces an effect similar to painkillers. There are many legal painkillers that are also made from the opium poppy. However, heroin is an illegal drug with an exceptionally high potential for abuse and addiction.
What are Heroin Street Names?
Heroin is known by many different street names, including:
- H, Big H
- Tar, Black tar
- Brown, Brown sugar
- White, China white, White horse
- Black Pearl
What Does Heroin Look Like?
Heroin is usually available in two forms:
- Powdered substance that can range in color from white to dark brown
- Sticky dark substance known as “tar” or “black tar” heroin.
How is Heroin Ingested?
Heroin can be inhaled (snorted), smoked (either vaporized off of a heated surface or rolled into a marijuana-like joint), or injected. Injection can take place in a vein (“intravenous”), under the skin (“skin popping”), or intra-muscular. All methods of ingesting heroin are dangerous. Smoking heroin can cause severe lung deterioration; snorting heroin will eventually damage nasal pathways. But, injecting heroin is the single most dangerous form of ingestion.
Addicts often choose intravenous use because it produces an almost instant and very intense high, by putting the drug directly into the blood stream. When a user begins intravenous heroin use, this is a sign of someone with a full-blown heroin addiction.
What Are Some Signs of Heroin Addiction?
To be able to identify if someone you love has a heroin addiction, learn the common signs of heroin addiction. Signs of heroin use include:
- Possessing drug paraphernalia (e.g., hypodermic needles, small baggies, spoons, and pipes)
- Glassy eyes
- Slurred speech
- Flushed skin
- Poor hygiene, lack of grooming
What are the Effects of Heroin Abuse?
Heroin gives the user a “euphoric” experience, which causes intense relaxation. Other heroin side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Feeling of heavy extremities
- Flushed skin
- Slurred speech
- Droopy eyelids
- Slow breathing
- Slow gait
- Mental clouding
- “Nodding out” (the term when someone goes back and forth from alert to drowsy)
What are the Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal?
Users who have a short-term, less intense addiction to heroin are able to quit without any medical help for withdrawal symptoms (called “cold-turkey”). Users with full-blown heroin addiction should not attempt to stop cold-turkey. For such heroin users, a medically supervised drug detox may be necessary.
Withdrawal syndrome can begin after a few hours off of heroin. The worst withdrawal symptoms generally peak between 24-48 hours later.
Heroin withdrawal symptoms include:
- Intense, persistent cravings
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bone pain
- Involuntary leg movements or kicking
- Cold flashes with goose bumps
- Flu-like symptoms
- Body aches
If you or someone you love is showing signs of heroin withdrawal, you should consider seeking medical assistance immediately. You can find more information here.
What are the Dangers of Heroin Addiction?
Heroin causes a wide variety of problems in all areas of health:
- Nutrition. Heroin addicts often neglect their basic nutrition, while at the same time heroin shuts down many vital processes. Heroin addicts are often constipated and look bony and sallow due to weight loss and a lack of vitamin and nutrients.
- Immune System. Opiates suppress the immune system, leaving the body unable to fight off colds and sickness.
- Blood-Bourne Illness. Intravenous heroin users run the risk of sharing or using dirty needles, which can spread infections like tetanus, infections in the heart lining and valves, botulism, hepatitis, and HIV/AIDS.
- Vein Problems. Chronic intravenous heroin addicts may develop collapsed veins and skin infections called abscesses.
- Additives. Street heroin is often “cut” with additives like sugar, cornstarch, or toxic substances like pesticides. Additives can be introduced to dilute heroin’s potency or to increase the overall amount a dealer has to sell. When those additives enter the blood stream, they can trigger reactions. Sometimes, allergic reactions caused by additives can be deadly.
- Overdose. Heroin has a very high potential for overdose. There are no regulations in the manufacture or processing of heroin. Every different strain can be weaker or stronger than every other. As a result, it can be easy to overestimate how much heroin will be needed to get high, leading to overdose and death.
The ultimate consequence of heroin addiction is not a question of “if” the user will die from the disease, but “when.” Heroin’s highly addictive quality makes it almost impossible to quit without treatment. If you or a loved one is suffering from heroin addiction, it is important to seek immediate help.
What Can You Do?
Please call our New Jersey rehab center today to find out what treatment programs may be available for you or your loved one. Call our rehab facilities in NJ 24 hours a day at 888-687-6977, or contact us here.