Heroin is part of the opioid drug family and is made from morphine. Morphine, which may sound familiar as a drug used in hospitals for pain management is actually derived from a natural substance. The chemical is created from the seed pods of opium poppy plants. Heroin itself can be identified as a white or brown powder, as well as a black sticky substance called black tar heroin. Street names for heroin can include terms like smack, hell dust, big H, or horse.
Heroin users can take the drug by injecting it intravenously, sniffing or snorting it, or many people also smoke heroin. Users may also mix heroin with crack cocaine which is called speedballing. Heroin is known to produce intense feelings of euphoria and is often an inexpensive drug to get your hands on.
Unfortunately, heroin use, along with other opioid drug abuse has become an epidemic in the United States. The CDC reported that heroin use has risen in recent years across almost all age groups and demographics. Both men and women have increased their use of heroin, including those in higher income brackets or the privately insured.
There is a strong need for treatment programs in this country that can help cure this epidemic and prevent more overdoses and the spread of infectious diseases. The CDC estimates over 75,000 visits to the ER each year due to unintentional, heroin-related poisonings in the United States. Beyond the risks of overdose, those who use heroin are at increased risk of contracting contagious viruses such as HIV or hepatitis C.
Effects of Heroin Addiction
Heroin works similar to other opioid painkillers in that it affects receptors in the brain that control your body’s feelings of pleasure and pain. These same receptors also control your heart rate, sleeping, and breathing. Heroin users like the drug for its euphoric effects, but it can also cause many other drug-related side effects that are both short and long-term.
Short-Term Side Effects Can Include:
- dry mouth
- nausea and/or vomiting
- warm flushing of the skin
- severe itching
- heavy, limp feeling in the arms and legs
- clouded mental functioning
- going in and out of consciousness, also referred to as “on the nod”
Long-Term Side Effects Can Include:
- long-term insomnia
- collapsed veins for people who inject the drug
- infection of the heart lining and valves
- nasal tissue damage if you sniff or snort the drug
- abscesses on the skin tissue
- constipation and stomach cramping
- liver and kidney disease
- lung complications and lung diseases like pneumonia
- mental disorders, personality disorders, depression
Other side effects can include increased exposure to infectious diseases as noted above, along with additional poisoning risk due to the use of tainted drugs. Heroin is often laced or mixed with other substances to add the appearance of volume. Such substances can include things like different starches or sugar which can cause permanent damage when they clog blood vessels that lead to major organs.
In addition to these effects of heroin abuse, an overdose is potentially the most permanent and lasting side effect as it can result in death. Without seeking help, all heroin users are at risk of overdose. This is a drug that your body can build up a tolerance to and therefore users typically continue to increase the amounts they take in order to get that euphoric high. The higher the amount ingested, the more likely it is to be fatal.
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Treatments For Heroin Addiction
At BrightView, we are able to successfully treat patients who are fighting the disease of heroin addiction or other drug and alcohol addictions. We are not a “drug rehab.” BrightView is an intensive outpatient treatment center that can help users beat their heroin dependence.
We use medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to ease the effects of heroin withdrawal, while combining behavioral therapies and counseling to work towards long-term recovery. We work with each patient to create a treatment plan that allows them to maintain as much day-to-day normalcy as possible while they work on recovery.
Substance abuse does not need to take over your life. If you or a loved one need help, BrightView can help you beat heroin addiction and get back to being you. Contact us today. We have team members that answer the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 1-833-510-HELP