Heroin addiction has been a problem in our culture for a long time. What the majority may not know is just how dangerous, potent, and accessible heroin can be. While it is highly dangerous and difficult to recover from, it is possible to get sober from heroin and create a better life for an addict.
If you are concerned about someone you love being addicted to heroin, please don’t hesitate to call New Life House at 888-357-7577 or email us at [email protected]. We can provide solutions to get you and your loved ones on the path to recovery in order to live life, free of heroin.
How Is Heroin Abused?
Heroin is a dangerous narcotic and is usually injected, snorted or smoked to produce a euphoric state. Regardless of how an addict ingests heroin, it’s highly physically addictive.
Physical addiction can begin immediately with the first use, while some addicts will become physically and psychologically dependent over time. Either way, heroin addiction can be very dangerous and difficult to treat.
Different Types of Heroin
In the USA, there are generally two different types of heroin that are usually distributed and used.
1. “China White” is an odorless white powder, more commonly found in the eastern half of the US
2. “Black Tar” is a sticky and sour-smelling substance which is more common in the western half of the country.
There is no such thing as a safer or less addictive type of heroin, and it is safe to say that any heroin bought on the street is more than likely cut with some other substance(s).
Why Is Heroin Addictive?
Heroin helps the pain of not being able to express unresolved grief, and is the ultimate drug used to “check-out.”
Heroin is habit-forming, both mentally and physically. Beyond the drug itself, the ritual of using is also addicting, so coming home to the bedroom, locking the door, putting on music, and getting the drug paraphernalia out are all part of using. There is an anticipation that began before the addict ever gets home and, in a sense, the using has already begun.
The body also becomes adjusted and dependent on these toxins being put into the body. Once a dependency is built, the body begins to experience heroin withdrawal.
The withdrawal symptoms are excruciating each time an addict stops using. Addicts will feel hot and cold flashes, body tremors, constipation, fever, aches and pain in the bones, and severe discomfort. Often they cannot bear the pain, think they will just use a little to get by, and before long are back to square one.
Many heroin addicts did not start by simply taking heroin. Often, users are prescribed painkillers after surgery or to mitigate chronic pain. Upon extended use, misuse and eventually abuse, moving on to heroin becomes not only cheaper but also a more effective and viable option.
Why Is Heroin So Dangerous?
Heroin addiction can lead to death if left untreated. The cyclical devastation of physical dependence, use, discontinuing use, experiencing withdrawal, continued use, tolerance, increased dosage, etc. can have disastrous long-term consequences on the body and the mind, including:
- Breathing stomach contents into the lungs which can cause infection, choking, or death
- Vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration and imbalanced chemical makeup
- Depression which can lead to suicidal thoughts
- Overdose which can lead to death
What Are the Effects & Side Effects of Heroin?
The effects of heroin take place immediately after use and continue for a period of a few hours. After the first effects, heroin users will feel sleepy and have decreased mental function for several hours following heroin use. Some of the main effects of heroin use include:
- Constricted pupils
- Dry or cottonmouth
- Drowsiness/Nodding off
- Difficulty coughing
- Strenuous breathing
- Limbs feel heavy and weighed down
- Reduced anxiety
How Can I Tell If My Child Is Taking Heroin?
If it is suspected that a friend, family member, or loved one is using heroin, these are definite signs to watch for:
- Fatigue followed by periods of alertness
- Strenuous or shallow breathing
- Injection wounds, track marks, needle marks on arms, between toes
- Infections on the skin from injections, boils
- Small, constricted pupils
- Looking “spaced out,” gazing into the distance
- Lack of motivation
- Isolating from friends, family members and loved ones
- Hanging out with a new group of people whom are kept secret
- Poor motor function
- Miscommunication, trouble speaking, slurring speech
- Lack of memory, forgetting things or not remembering important events or matters
- Long, droopy, heavy extremities, moving slowly
- Lack of interest in the future or what comes next
- Unkempt self-image, lack of hygiene or taking care of one’s self
What to Do If You Suspect a Loved One is Using Heroin
The first thing to be done as a parent is to begin to educate yourself. The internet is a powerful resource, and you can find all sorts of useful information regarding heroin abuse.
What are the effects of chronic use? What does physical addiction look like and mean? What different ways are people abusing the drug? This is all important information to have because once you are equipped with basic knowledge you will be much more able to address perhaps the most important question of your child’s specific situation.
The next step is taking action as soon as possible. Getting your child help quickly can prevent the dangerous and often fatal situations that arise with heroin abuse from taking place in your home. Heroin addiction has a couple of different components that should be both understood and addressed when it comes to getting your child help.
The bottom line is that heroin abuse is never something that you can afford to mess around with. If you find out that your child is using heroin, you can do something to help! Taking the appropriate action to get them into a healthy and recovery focused community, and potentially getting them medically detoxed, go a long way towards dealing with the issue and preventing terrible situations.
If a young man in your life needs help, New Life House is available. Don’t waste time by not taking action if you find out your child is using heroin.
Heroin Detox – What to Consider
To effectively deal with heroin addiction, you have to address the mind and the body. First, not everyone who is using heroin will have the same level of physical addiction. Therefore, addressing the body component may be different for everyone.
If, however, your child is using to a degree, which has led them to experience withdrawal effects when going without the drug, they may need to be medically detoxed before any further action is taken. This is a process where they are placed under medical supervision and given a period of time, usually 3 to 6 days, to safely and comfortably withdraw from the drug.
How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?
The initial detox symptoms can vary in time and intensity, and most addicts report that withdrawal symptoms will begin 6 to 12 hours after their last dose, peaking within 1 to 3 days, and gradually subsiding over 5 to 7 days. The second stage of the detox is called Post-Acute-Withdrawal syndrome, also referred to as PAWS. During this phase, the physical withdrawal yields way to emotional and psychological distress.
Emotional symptoms are as follows: mood swings, anxiety, irritability, tiredness, variable energy, low enthusiasm, variable concentration and disturbed sleep. These symptoms can be overwhelming within the first few weeks of recovery. This phase is often referred to as the “rollercoaster of emotions.”
After 90 days, these symptoms have a tendency to gradually subside as the recovering addict dives deeper into their recovery and gain physical and emotional strength. One of the most common misconceptions about PAWS is that it will only last a few months, when in fact it has been documented that it is a two-year process.
There is no definite schedule, and it can be an uncomfortable period. Impatience can lead to relapse and it has been documented that heroin detox is more effective when adhering to a recovery program that instills unique tools specifically designed to deal with these concerns. Heroin detox should also be done under a doctor’s supervision for clinical and medical care.
What’s the Primary Treatment During Detox?
The reality is that little to no internal work can be done with an individual until they have gone through the preliminary withdrawal stages, and the medical environment that a hospital or residential detox facility provides can be extremely beneficial. Not everyone who is using heroin will need to take this step though, and so it is important to have an understanding of what your child’s use looks like.
Second, and most importantly, if your child is going to have any long-term success with staying off of heroin, the mind needs to be addressed. This is where a long-term recovery community comes in. There are different options when it comes to dealing with this aspect of heroin addiction, but traditionally for young people, a recovery community is one of the most effective choices.
This is because of the high level of peer support provided and the chance that your child will get to dig into and uncover the reasons behind their drug use in order to make the changes that will free them from following the same path a second time. Because of this, a recovery community is usually recommended for addressing the mind and helping to promote healthy behaviors to replace the old unhealthy ones.
Heroin Addiction in the USA
Heroin’s grip in the United States is fierce.
As the opiate epidemic has blasted across the country, people of all demographics are seeking treatment for heroin abuse, from professional athletes to business executives, high school teenagers to suburban mothers and even police officers. In the wake of the prescription opiate epidemic that began in the early 2000’s, we have seen an explosive rise in the number of heroin abusers, shifting a substance that was once reserved for the most extreme drug addicts into a silent killer of the masses.
Originally synthesized for medicinal purposes in 1874, heroin was introduced to the market as a “safer” alternative to morphine, which was commonly used for cough suppression and the treatment of numerous other ailments. However, despite its miraculous health claims, including the absence of addictive tendencies, the United States Government banned the production of heroin in 1924.
By this point, it is estimated that approximately 200,000 individuals had already become addicted to the drug. Unfortunately, ceasing the legal manufacturing of heroin did not stop its availability on home turf, as crime syndicates seized the opportunity to corner the market, bringing with them all of the violence and turmoil that comes with illegal drug trafficking. Widespread abuse remained a problem for close to 20 years, until increased security at the border drastically disrupted the volume of heroin coming into the states, lowering the number of heroin addicted users by close to 80%.
After close to 60 years with relatively low levels of fluctuation in terms of addicted users, the new millennium brought with it an epidemic of unprecedented magnitude, spawned once again at the hands of the pharmaceutical industry. Heroin is a narcotic synthesized from morphine, which like all non-synthetic opioids, is derived from the poppy plant. In the late 1990’s, when OxyContin was released to the US market as a slow-acting narcotic that could be prescribed for all sorts of common pains, an explosive wave of opiate abuse emerged, ultimately bringing back heroin in a way that had never been seen in history.
How Can New Life House Help?
New Life House is a highly structured sober living community with a 30-year history of success in treating various types of addiction through addressing the root source of the problem. We have helped thousands of individuals struggling with addiction by creating an environment which is conducive to getting sober in a healthy way.
We can help to treat heroin addiction by helping addicts to begin a process of self-discovery and accountability to themselves and others.
Contact Us Today
Call us now at (888)357-7577 or email us at [email protected] to find out if New Life House is right for you or your loved one, and we can help you to begin a New Life, clean and sober!