Heroin is an opioid derived from morphine, which naturally occurs in various species of poppy plants. While morphine is used legally in specific and controlled medical situations, heroin is not. Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive drug, and while separate from prescription opioid pills, it is nonetheless part of the opioid crisis affecting America.
While not all opioid pill users will take up heroin, nearly 80 percent of Americans using heroin, including those in treatment, reported misusing prescription opioids before using heroin.
Of course, this is not the only factor leading to heroin use, but it explains why prescription opioid abuse and heroin are so closely linked within the Southern California substance abuse treatment community.
Short-Term Effects of Heroin
People use heroin for the rush of euphoria it brings. It enters the brain rapidly and binds to opioid receptors that control pleasure and pain, as well as affecting breathing and heart rate. However, it is accompanied by several adverse effects:
- Dry mouth
- Flushing of the skin
- Heavy feelings in the hands and feet
- Clouded mental functioning
- Going back-and-forth between being conscious and semi-conscious
What Are the Other Health Effects of Heroin?
Heroin is a powerful and addictive drug that can easily lead to severe health problems. People who use heroin over the long term may develop:
- Collapsed veins
- Infection of the heart lining and valves
- Constipation and stomach cramping
- Liver or kidney disease
- Lung complications, including various types of pneumonia
In addition to the effects of the drug itself, street heroin often contains additives or other chemicals. These can cause a variety of severe health conditions such as clogged vessels leading to the lungs, liver, or brain, which can result in permanent damage or death.
Also, impaired judgment from drug use can lead to risky behaviors like sharing drug injection equipment, thereby increasing the risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.
Can Heroin Lead to Addiction?
Yes, heroin is highly addictive. People who regularly use heroin often develop a tolerance, which means they need more of the drug more frequently to get the desired effects.
A substance use disorder (SUD) develops when continued use interferes with normal, everyday activities. These could range from failure to meet responsibilities at work, school, or home, as well as additional health and behavior problems. A SUD can range from mild to severe, the most severe form being addiction.
Those who have become addicted to heroin and stop using the drug abruptly may have severe withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms—which can begin as early as a few hours after the drug was last taken—include:
- Muscle and bone pain
- Sleep problems
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Cold flashes with goosebumps
- Uncontrollable leg movements
- Severe heroin cravings
LGBTQ heroin rehab is available at La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center in the form of detoxification treatment, residential, outpatient, and sober living programs. Call 888.903.9898 today.
Can a Person Overdose on Heroin?
Yes, a person can overdose on heroin. Because regular use of heroin builds up the user’s tolerance, more and more of the drug is required more often to achieve the desired effect. Eventually, the quantity of drug needed reaches a fatal or near-fatal level and results in serious symptoms or death.
When an individual overdoses on heroin, their breathing often slows or stops. A decrease in the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain can have short- and long-term mental effects and repercussions on the nervous system, including coma, permanent brain damage, or death.
Do not wait until you or a loved one reaches the point of overdose. Seek out a heroin addiction treatment center today at La Fuente Hollywood.
Benefits of Heroin Addiction Treatment
Anyone who is struggling with heroin use, abuse, or addiction may be a candidate for a heroin addiction treatment center. A professional program will provide comprehensive treatment services and therapies that are tailored to the individual’s specific needs.
Residential or inpatient addiction treatment requires the individual to live at the treatment center. This allows for around-the-clock supervision. Detox can pose significant risks, with withdrawal symptoms ranging from uncomfortable to life-threatening. An inpatient heroin addiction treatment program provides the maximum accountability and medically-supervised care to ensure the best possible outcomes.
Outpatient heroin addiction treatment programs—such as a partial hospitalization program or intensive outpatient program—can offer a range of benefits, including:
- Access to evidence-based therapies as well as holistic approaches designed to change clients’ thoughts and behaviors surrounding heroin use
- Greater flexibility than residential programs, allowing clients to attend to work and school obligations while receiving treatment
- Skills for coping with triggers and stressful situations that might lead to relapse
- A less expensive treatment option than residential treatment
The best possible outcome of a heroin addiction treatment center is sustained sobriety and a better quality of life. Heroin addiction treatment centers can benefit clients by developing the necessary coping skills and strategies to lead more balanced, healthy lives.