Heroin and Opiod Addiction

Every year, millions of Americans are affected by heroin and opiod abuse and addiction. It not only affects the lives of those who abuse and are addicted to these substances, but it also affects the loved ones of those who are suffering from addiction.

If you or someone you love is suffering from a heroin or opioid addiction, there is help. With effective treatment, you can get your life back from substance abuse and addiction and start living a healthier, happier life free of drugs.

What is Heroin?

Heroin is an illicit substance. It is derived from the seeds of the poppy plant. It can come as a black, stick substance (known as black tar heroin), and it can also look like a white or brownish powder. The powder form of this drug can be snorted, the solid form can be smoked, and the soluble form can be injected.

Heroin is a part of the class of drugs known as opioids. Just like other opioids – including prescription pain medications – it attaches to the opioid receptors in the brain and changes the way the body responds to both pain and pleasure.

The side effects of heroin vary. Pleasurable effects can include increased energy, relaxation, and euphoria. However, like all drugs, there are also negative side effects associated with this drug, including:

  • Mental confusion
  • Dry mouth
  • Flushed skin
  • Severe itching
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Heavy feeling in the limbs
  • Slipping in and out of consciousness

The more a person takes heroin, the more his or her tolerance will grow. When tolerance increases, a person has to take more of the substance in order to feel the effects. Taking higher doses increases the risk of adverse effects and overdose, and even death.

What are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs that include a combination of natural, synthetic, and a mixture of natural and synthetic substances. Heroin, as well as many prescription pain relievers, such as OxyContin and Percocet, are considered opioids.

Prescription opioids are often administered to patients as a way to relieve chronic or acute pain. It is commonly prescribed to cancer patients, those who have recovering from surgery, and patients who are suffering from terminal illnesses. When taken under the guidance of a doctor and as prescribed, these medications are very effective for treating pain. However, if they are taken without the care of a doctor or are abused, there is a serious risk of developing a dependency. Likewise, tolerance increases and the chance of suffering adverse effects also increase. T

The negative effects of opioid misuse and abuse include are very similar to the effects that are associated with heroin abuse. These effects can include:

  • Constipation
  • Heightened sensitivity to pain
  • Dilated pupils
  • Lower sex drive
  • Shallow breathing
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Slurred speech
  • Reduced coordination

Commonly Prescribed Opioids

There are several opiods that doctors prescribe to their patients. These include:

  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Methadone
  • Morphine
  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone
  • Oxycodone

As mentioned, these medications are used to treat short-lived or long-lasting, moderate to severe pain.

Facts About Opioid Addiction in the United States

In 2015, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) reported that more than two million American adults were abusing or addicted to opioids. Also in 2015, more than 20,000 people perished as a result of overdosing on prescription opioid medications.

Researchers and healthcare professionals believe that too many prescriptions for these drugs are being written, that they are being carelessly prescribed, and that they are not being distributed properly. All of these issues have resulted in the opioid epidemic that has taken the country by storm.

Facts About Heroin Addiction in the United States

It is estimated that about 23% of the people who use heroin in the US will become addicted to it. It is also estimated that of people who are new to abusing heroin, four out of five started out abusing prescription opioids. In other words, if you have abused prescription pain killers, there is a good chance that you will also start abusing heroin.

Signs of Addiction

With opioid medications, the signs of addiction can include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Mental confusion
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Slurred speech
  • Motor issues
  • Constipation

Some of the signs of heroin addiction are similar to the signs of an opioid addiction, such as dry mouth, constipation, and mood changes. However, other symptoms can include:

  • The appearance of track marks along the arms, legs, or feet
  • Tooth loss
  • Skin changes
  • Collapsed veins
  • Nasal problems (sinus infections, bloody noses, etc)
  • Insomnia

Finding the Help that You Need

If you or someone you love is abusing or is addicted to heroin or opioid medications, there is help. Inpatient drug rehabilitation is the most effective way to combat this problem. This method of treatment includes medically supervised detox, counseling, therapy, and a variety of other techniques that have been proven to be helpful in treating these types of addictions.

Given the rise in heroin and opioid addictions in the United States in recent years, many drug rehab centers are not offering treatment programs that are designed to combat this specific type of addiction. If you are looking for a rehab, please reach out to us today. Our highly trained counselors can connect you to a center that will help you take your life back from addiction and get you back up on your feet.