Heroin Addiction Treatment
Heroin Abuse Treatment at Roots Recovery
If you’re battling with heroin addiction, you’re not alone — almost a million Americans have abused heroin in the past year, which is a drastic increase in the past decade.  It’s easy to feel isolated or hopeless when you’re struggling with a substance abuse disorder, but we’re here to tell you that you don’t have to fight this battle on your own. Read on to learn more about heroin abuse, its signs and symptoms, and how our heroin addiction recovery programs can help you reclaim your life.
What is Heroin?
Heroin is an opioid processed from morphine, which is synthesized from the opium poppy plant. Heroin binds to the opioid receptors in the “reward center” of the brain, causing it to release dopamine, which leads to a rush of pleasurable sensations like warmth, relaxation, and sedation.
Although some opioids can be legally prescribed by a doctor to relieve pain, heroin is considered highly addictive and has been illegal in the United States for almost a century. Because it doesn’t take long to build up a tolerance to heroin, people who abuse this drug will gradually need more of it to receive the same effect, making it easy for an overdose to occur.
Heroin can be white, brown, gray, or even black powder. Pure heroin is most commonly white, but other colors indicate that it has diluted with another substance. More recently, street heroin has been cut with fentanyl, another opioid that has an even stronger effect than heroin, which makes overdose even more of a concern. Heroin can be sniffed, injected, or smoked.
Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Addiction
The indicators of heroin abuse can vary between individuals, but some of the most common signs and symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Constricted pupils
- Decreased attention to personal hygiene
- Possession of drug paraphernalia (syringes, spoons, pipes, etc.)
- Inability to fulfill family or work obligations
- Scabs, bruises, or “track marks” on the arms or legs
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Hostility towards others
- Agitation, irritability, and mood swings
- Stealing from loved ones
Not every person will display every one of these signs, and their severity will depend on how long a person has been abusing heroin, as well as how they choose to consume it.
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Effects of Heroin
Abuse and Addiction
Like many other drugs, people who abuse heroin do so for the short-term gratification of an intense “rush.” However, this goes away quickly, leaving the user wanting more of the drug as the after-effects of the high begin to kick in. The short-term effects of heroin include:
- Slowed breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sedation and drowsiness
- Dry mouth
- Feeling heavy
- Severe itching
- Clouded mental function
With that said, the long-term effects of heroin can have a severe impact on a person’s health and, over time, can cause permanent damage to the body. This includes:
- Brain damage
- Muscular weakness
- Loss of memory and poor mental cognition
- Clogged blood vessels
- Infections of the blood and heart valves
The severity of these symptoms tends to get worse the longer heroin is abused. In addition to the side effects listed above, if a person builds up a tolerance to heroin, they’re at an extreme risk for overdosing. Since heroin is a depressant that slows down the breathing and heart rate, an overdose is especially dangerous, since too much of the drug will slow the body to the point where even the most basic functions cease to work altogether — leading to coma and, in the worst cases, death.
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Physical dependence on heroin leads to severe side effects when the usage suddenly stops, which is why many people who try to detox from heroin on their own end up turning back to the drug for relief from its withdrawal symptoms.
The symptoms of heroin withdrawal (also known as “dope sickness”) can include:
- Extreme sweating, and cold sweats
- Muscle and bone aches and pains
- Insomnia and sleep issues
- Nausea and vomiting
- Uncontrollable leg movements
- Severe cravings
Since these symptoms come on so quickly after a person’s last heroin use and can range from uncomfortable to dangerous, it’s tough — and, for some, impossible — to go through all alone. That’s why it’s so important to seek help when trying to quit heroin. A team of trained addiction specialists will have the tools to help make heroin withdrawal easier and safer for those suffering from withdrawal symptoms.
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