Understanding Heroin Addiction

heroin addiction

Drug and alcohol addiction can affect anyone, no matter your age, gender, race, income level or sexual orientation. One of the deadliest drugs that is wreaking havoc across the country is heroin. The increased popularity of heroin can in part be attributed to individuals who became addicted to prescription opiates. When prescription opiates are no longer available, many people discover that heroin is more accessible and affordable.

The Effects of Heroin on The Body

The deadliest illicit drug in the world is heroin. It’s extremely addictive. Those who are addicted to heroin have become powerless over the substance. When a person uses heroin, the drug binds to receptors in the brain and release a tremendous amount of dopamine, also known as the “feel good” chemical. As a person continues using heroin, his or her brain trains itself to require the heroin to feel good and craves more of the drug. This is why heroin addicts feel an uncontrollable urge to use heroin even in the face of the pain and destruction it causes.

There are many physical effects of heroin addiction. They can sometimes be far-reaching and sometimes even irreversible. They include:

  • Heart infections
  • Abscesses
  • Collapsed veins
  • Dangerously slow breathing
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Overdose
  • Coma
  • Death

Heroin Addiction Signs and Symptoms

If you suspect that a loved one may be abusing heroin, we understand how difficult it can be. It’s important to understand the signs of heroin use so that you know what to look for. The signs of heroin use may include:

  • Paraphernalia – You may find syringes, belts or rubber tubes, dirty spoons, metal or glass pipes or small baggies that contain a tarry substance or white powder.
  • Clothing changes – In order to hide track marks, your loved one may wear long sleeves or pants.
  • Grooming changes – You may notice poor hygiene and lack of self-care.
  • Appetite changes – Heroin can cause decreased appetite so your loved one may lose weight or eat less than usual. Heroin can also cause nausea and vomiting, which can also contribute to weight loss.
  • Scratching – Itchiness is caused by heroin abuse so take note of any excessive scratching.
  • Personality changes – Take note if your loved one has been stealing, lying or behaving abnormally. If your loved one’s actions are hurting you, you have to remember that addiction is a disease that needs to be treated.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Quitting heroin can lead to such unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that many people choose to enter into medically supervised detox programs. Heroin withdrawal can cause abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, sweating, shaking, depression, agitation, muscle spasms and nervousness.

Medically supervised detox is typically recommended as if heroin withdrawal is attempted alone, the temptation to relapse may become too great once withdrawal symptoms become severe. Medical detox providers will use medications to keep the patients comfortable as they detox.

While many patients elect to use a detox center, it’s recommended to participate in medical detox in a treatment center that also offers treatment programs. While detox does address the physical aspect of addiction, it does nothing to address the mental and psychological aspects of drug addiction. This work must be done with the help of addiction specialists and healthcare providers in a treatment program.

Heroin Addiction Treatment

If you suffer from heroin addiction, you should know that there is always hope for recovery. It may feel hopeless when you are in the throes of addiction, but seeking treatment can give you the tools you need to take back control. Heroin addiction does major damage to relationships, careers and lives, but recovery can help you get those things back.

We offer expert, caring and holistic heroin addiction treatment here at The Recovery Village Ridgefield. Convenient to the cities of Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon, The Recovery Village Ridgefield is located in the Cascade Mountains, giving our patients a beautiful and serene backdrop as they focus on the healing they need to pick up the pieces of their lives. If you are considering treatment for your drug addiction, please reach out to us today. Give us a call. We are here to speak with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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