Heroin Addiction

Heroin is a highly addictive opioid drug that was first marketed and produced on a commercial scale by the Bayer Company in 1898. The highly addictive drug is derived from the naturally occurring morphine, found in specific varieties of opium poppy seed plant pods, commonly grown in the Southeast, Colombia, Mexico, and Southwest Asia. Heroin was named a Schedule 1 drug, and removed from commercial production entirely, no longer accepted in the U.S. for any kind of medical use, due to its high abuse potential.

The use of heroin is extremely dangerous and can be life-threatening. You may be very nervous about your, or a loved one, but unsure if you have a problem on your hands or not. So, you’ve come here to learn more about the warning signs of a heroin addiction, and we at Saint John’s Recovery Place, are here to help.

How is Heroin Used?

Typically, heroin is sold as a white, brown, or off-white powder, bitter in taste. The white the heroin, the more pure it is generally assumed to be. Pure heroin, or heroin that is more pure, is typically either used by:

  • Snorting
  • Smoking
  • Injecting

But, heroin can also be sold as a black, tar-like substance, that is sticky or even hard like a lump of coal. Heroin in this form is usually impure, having been mixed with a variety of outside substances, and can either be diluted, or dissolved to be injected into the muscle, vein, or skin for use.

Signs of Heroin Abuse

If you are worried about a loved one, but unsure how to tell if they are suffering from a heroin addiction or not, there are a few things to look out for. One of heroin’s most immediate effects is euphoria. This euphoria may cause the user to feel comforted, happy, and listless. Their limbs may feel like they are heavy, or weighed down. People who have used heroin recently may also:

  • Feel very drowsy or sleepy.
  • Feel happy or content .
  • Have a sense of euphoria.
  • Have pinpoint, or very small pupils.
  • Have marks from where they injected the drug.

These signs are usually followed by more negative effects of immediate use though, as heroin has an incredibly short half-life, meaning the drug’s “happy” effects wear off very quickly. These more negative signs can include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle and bone aches and pains
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion, or slow thinking
  • Slow reaction time
  • Sleepiness or drowsiness
  • Nervousness
  • Itchiness
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia)

Physical Signs of Heroin Use

Heroin addiction is a chronic disease. The physical signs of heroin abuse can be directly associated with the physical signs of heroin withdrawal. Physical signs of general heroin abuse include:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Itching or scratching
  • Droopy limbs, the arms may appear like they are heavy
  • Drowsiness or inability to stay awake
  • Hanging of the head, “Nodding off”
  • Bloodshot eyes

Physical signs of heroin abuse which can also be associated with withdrawal include:

  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Chills
  • Vomiting
  • Complaints of muscle or bone pain
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Constant runny nose or sniffling absent of a cold
  • Nosebleeds from snorting heroin
  • Infections or abscesses from injecting heroin
  • Persistent cough from smoking heroin

Behavioral Signs of Heroin Use

Signs of heroin use do not surface in just the physical realm. There are also behavioral signs of heroin use which may be hard to differentiate from normal changes in behavioral patterns and mood. Many of these signs may also signify other types of substance abuse. Becauseheroin actually changes the chemical and physical nature of the brain, those who suffer from heroin addiction tend to have more severe behavioral differences, especially after long-term, extended use. Behavioral signs of heroin use include:

  • Compulsive drug-seeking to alleviate or avoid withdrawal symptoms
  • Mood swings
  • Mood changes
  • Slowed thinking
  • Impared coordination
  • Increased anxiety
  • Increased feelings of nervousness
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Increased dangerous risk-taking
  • Intentionally destroying personal relationships
  • Reduced interest in pre-existing hobbies
  • Neglect of work, school, and social / familial relationships
  • Avoidance of friends / family (trying to hide the addiction)
  • Poor concentration
  • Wearing long pants or long-sleeve shirts to cover up needle marks
  • Periods of extreme alertness followed immediately by drowsiness or “nodding off”
  • Slowed movements or uncoordinated movements

Signs of Heroin Addiction

Heroin use in any degree is dangerous, and can have life-altering, or life-threatening consequences. Signs of heroin addiction may present both physically, and mentally, and may expand to affect an idnviduals’ work, home, or school responsibilities, as well as their relationships, and their self-care. If you or a loved one is struggling with a heroin addiction, do not be afraid to reach out for help. Heroin addiction does not have to be a life-style, and you, or your loved one, does not have to feel trapped by it. You can recover, with a little help. The signs of heroin addiction may include:

  • Constant bruises or track marks on the arms, legs, neck, hands, fingers, or feet.
  • Recurring respiratory infections.
  • Abrupt changes in sleep patterns – insomnia, heavy sleeping, nodding off.
  • Acting secretive or defensive.
  • Unexplained spending of money or loss of money.
  • Wearing heavy clothing in summer to cover up marks on the skin.
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or relationships.
  • Trouble with the law.
  • Un-kept personal appearance such as wearing the same clothes for several days.
  • Trouble fulfilling responsibilities at work, home or school.
  • Lack of motivation.
  • Steady decline in occupational or academic performance.
  • Taking heroin more frequently or in larger amounts over a longer period of time than originally intended.
  • Constant desire to use heroin despite efforts to cut down or scale back use.
  • Spending more time focused on heroin, obtaining heroin, using heroin, recovering from past heroin use. Your world is consumed by heroin.
  • Continued heroin use despite problems caused by the drug or the effects of the drug.
  • Frequently using heroin in physically dangerous situations.
  • Using heroin despite the known complications that the drug is causing to your health or otherwise.
  • Increased tolerance to heroin and continued use.
  • Suffering symptoms of withdrawal if heroin use is scaled back or stopped all together.

Heroin Addiction Symptoms

Both short-term and long-term heroin addiction symptoms can lead to devastating, life-altering effects, complications, and potentially life-threatening circumstances. It is important to note that while the signs of a heroin addiction are defined as a notable difference observed in a person’s behavior or appearance by another individual, heroin addiction symptoms are the effects of heroin addiction that an individual experiences personally. Heroin addiction symptoms may include:

  • Uncontrollable cravings.
  • Inability to stop using heroin even though you may want to or you realize the negative impact it has had on your personal relationships, lifestyle, finances, or otherwise.
  • Symptoms of withdrawal when you don’t use.
  • Increased tolerance to the drug so you need to take more and more to achieve the same level of “high” or euphoria. (Most people addicted to heroin will not experience euphoria anymore and take the drug to avoid withdrawal symptoms)
  • Worrying more about your next dose than anything else.
  • Sexual dysfunction in men.
  • Menstrual irregularities in women.
  • Using heroin despite known consequences.
  • Feeling sick when you don’t use heroin.

Side Effects of Heroin Abuse

Side effects of heroin abuse are much like heroin addiction symptoms. The side effects of heroin use typically take longer to surface. There are short-term and long-term effects of heroin abuse, that are complications that have developed because of heroin use. Heroin side effects include:

  • Collapsed veins
  • Infection of the valves and lining in the heart
  • Developing abscesses
  • Lung compilation
  • Pneumonia
  • Heroin addiction
  • Heroin dependence
  • Higher risk of contracting AIDS/HIV
  • Higher risk of contracting Hepatitis B and C
  • High risk of overdose
  • Financial problems
  • Neglected work and work responsibilities
  • Neglected school and school responsibilities
  • Neglected hobbies
  • Neglected social commitments, relationships, and responsibilities
  • Neglected family relationships, commitments, and responsibilities
  • Mental health issues
  • Depression
  • Higher risk of committing sucide
  • Risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms when stopping heroin use, even if only for a short time
  • Neglected self / self-care and appearance
  • Restlessness
  • Sleep problems (drowsiness and insomnia)
  • Mood swings
  • Heroin cravings
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Constipation
  • Stomach cramping
  • Depression
  • Impaired coordination
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Drug seeking
  • Clouded mental function

Physical Signs

Heroin users typically experience both physical side effects of heroin abuse, and mental side effects of heroin abuse. The physical side effects of heroin users typically include:

  • Physical dependence on heroin
  • Physical addiction to heroin
  • Physical changes in the brain
  • Muscle pain
  • Bone pain
  • Imparied coordination
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Neglect of self / self-care
  • Financial problems
  • Neglect of work / work responsibilities
  • Neglect of school / school responsibilities
  • Neglect of social and family commitments, relationships, and responsibilities
  • Impaired immune system
  • Higher risk of contracting HIV/AIDS
  • Higher risk of contracting Hepatitis B and C
  • Pneumonia
  • Lung complication
  • Infections in the heart
  • Heavy feeling in limbs
  • Dry mouth
  • Severe itching
  • Risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms (chills, sweating, etc.)
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney problems
  • Stomach cramping
  • Constipation
  • Menstrual cycle irregularities
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Flushed skin
  • Shallow breathing
  • Slow heart rate

Long-Term Effects

Long-term side effects of heroin use can also expand the mental and physical plain. Typically, long-term side effects of heroin use are results of short-term side effects developing into, or causing new, physical and mental health complications. Long-term side effects of heroin include:

  • Collapsed veins
  • Skin abscesses
  • Constipation
  • Stomach cramping
  • Heroin addiction
  • Heroin dependence
  • Risk of contracting pneumonia
  • Lung complications
  • Infections of the heart
  • Liver issues
  • Kidney issues
  • Risk of contracting HIV/AIDS/Hepatitis B and C, and other blood-borne diseases
  • Fertility issues
  • Disturbances in the menstrual cycle
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Impaired immune system
  • Risk of overdose
  • Physical, and psychological changes to the brain
  • Loss of social and family relationships
  • Financial issues
  • Neglect of work, home, and school commitments, relationships, and responsibilities
  • Compulsive drug seeking
  • Damage to blood vessels
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Self-neglect
  • Poor nutrition
  • Insomnia
  • Drowsiness
  • Clouded or impaired thinking
  • Mood swings

Dangers of Polysubstance Abuse

You may be wondering, what is polysubstance abuse? Polysubstance abuse can be defined as a dependence to two or more drugs at one time. You can be diagnosed with a polysubstance disorder and not a specific substance abuse disorder, and although substance abuse and polysubstance abuse share large similarities, the latter comes with a unique set of challenges, especially in treatment. Of course, the biggest danger of polysubstance abuse deals with its mixing of different substances.

Drug abuse is dangerous and can be life-threatening. But, when you begin to mix different types of drugs, especially ones with higher addictive capabilities, you enter into uncharted territory, where numerous, largely unknown outcomes can take place, all with largely severe negative consequences. Typical heroin polysubstance abuse combinations include:

Mixing Meth and Heroin

Over the last decade or so, both heroin and meth use has increased. Typically injected together at the same time, the mixing of meth and heroin is referred to as a goof-ball, or speed-ball. There is still not much known about the effects of mixing heroin and meth, other than it creates a more intense rush, and may combine the overall side effects of meth and heroin. But, research has shown that those who mix meth and heroin are at higher risk for overdose, as well as at higher risk for contracting a number of blood borne pathogens.

Mixing Cocaine and Heroin

Cocaine and heroin are another drug combination typically used by polysubstance abusers, also referred to as a speedball. Overdose potential for the combining of cocaine and heroin together is very high, although little is known about how these two drugs combined effects may surface, or the responses they may stimulate in users, research has shown that when these two drugs are used together, longer periods of continuous use are reported, and higher withdrawal risk, as well as smaller periods of non-use.

Mixing Fentanyl and Heroin

Heroin mixed with fentanyl can have disastrous effects. Both of these drugs work to change the way the brain operates, inducing higher risk potential of addiction, and potentially fatal results. Both fentanyl and heroin are powerful synthetic opioids, used to negate the effects of physical pain. Those who use these two drugs in conjunction with each other typically have built a high tolerance to fentanyl and are looking for a stronger, longer lasting high. But while heroin mixed with fentanyl may cause an immediate sense of well-being and euphoria, these drugs are both known to cause life-threatening respiratory distress and drowsiness, that when doubled up upon, can have life-threatening effects.

Mixing Heroin and Alcohol

Just like the use of mixing heroin and meth has increased over the last decade or so, the use of heroin and alcohol together has also been on the rise, and can have lethal results. Just like those who combine heroin with fentanyl, individuals who mix heroin and alcohol are also looking to combine the sedating effects of the two separate substances to create a stronger, longer lasting high. Individuals who are addicted to alcohol are twice as likely to abuse heroin as well, and face potentially life-threatening circumstances as a result.

Mixing Xanax and Heroin

The combining of xanax and heroin has been noted to produce a multitude of effects, which includes both the increase of a more powerful high, as well as the potential to experience more life-threatening withdrawal effects and overdose. Surprisingly, although the main purpose noted for combining xanax and heroin was to achieve a stronger high, users also reported using this combination of drugs to try and come down from their highs on other types of drugs, or lessening the effects of withdrawal symptoms in a non-medical setting. The problem with trying to achieve such outcomes is that the mixing of xanax and heroin can have vastly different outcomes. It is not yet known what exactly influences the display of these potential different circumstances though.

What Causes Heroin Addiction?

There are many ways and reasons as to what can cause a heroin addiction. What causes heroin addiction for some individuals, it only takes a one time, or first time, to onset addiction and the issues associated with it. For others, heroin abuse may be developed over time, after repeated recreational use, as their tolerance to the drug grows. Overall, it is important for you to remember that, regardless of person, addiction is a chronic disease of the mind, and that the brain is the most complex human organ, that can be physical and psychologically changed by the use of illicit substances. Causes of heroin addiction can also be influenced by you genetically as an individual. These influences can include:

  • The strength of the dose
  • Repeated use
  • Your personal height
  • Your personal weight
  • Your overall health before beginning use
  • Your mental health
  • Whether or not you are taking any other type of drugs, or combining alcohol with your use

Heroin Addiction Facts

The recreational use of heroin has been on the rise since its creation in the late 1890s to early 1910s. The drug crosses over nearly every domestic demographic, including men and women from ages 12 and up, of every race, ethnicity, social standing and income. Heroin is not a discriminatory drug, and its life-threatening capabilities only continue to rise with its increased use. Heroin abuse facts state that:

Heroin is one of the world’s most dangerous opioids in existence, and as such, the drug is never used in medical settings, anywhere. Of course, this has not stopped the public from not only producing and distributing heroin, but using it as well, and becoming addicted to the substance as a result. Heroin addiction facts state that:

  • Nearly 4 to 6% of individuals who misuse prescription opioids will develop a heroin addiction.
  • Individuals who abuse heroin by injection are at a much higher risk to contract blood borne diseases like HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis B and C.
  • Heroin changes the brain, both physically and psychologically, decreasing the levels of white matter, and making it hard to quit using the drug altogether.
  • Nearly 68% of the 4,698 reported drug overdose deaths in Florida involved opioids in 2018—a total of 3,189 fatalities.

Heroin Addiction Statistics

Heroin addiction facts and statistics are largely the same, as they cover the same trends, increases, decreases, and overall changes in the use of heroin in today’s society. Other heroin addiction statistics include:

Heroin Overdose

Heroin is a highly addictive, volatile drug that can end in life-threatening circumstances. If you, or your loved one, struggles with a heroin addiction, it is just as important to be aware of the signs of addiction as it is to be aware of the signs of heroin overdose. Heroin overdose cases have been on the rise in the United States over the last decade or so, with over 13,000 people reported dead as a result. Heroin overdose symptoms can include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Shallow breathing
  • No breathing
  • Slow breathing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dry mouth
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Blue lips
  • Blue fingers
  • Discolored tongue
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weak pulse
  • Constipation
  • Stomach cramps
  • Muscle spasms
  • Coma
  • Delirium (confusion)
  • Disorientation
  • Impaired coordination

Finding Help for Heroin Addiction

After reading that brief section on heroin overdose, you may feel very frightened, and unsure what to do next. Fear not. You can find heroin addiction help for either yourself or your loved one, and avoid overdose. Heroin addiction help is much like any other kind of substance abuse help and treatment. We here at Saint John’s Recovery Place are willing to answer any questions you may have to get you, or your loved one, started on your journey towards recovery. So, without further ado, here is some information on how to get help for heroin addiction.

Heroin Addiction Treatment Options

Heroin addiction treatment, and heroin addiction treatment programs, largely resemble any other type of substance abuse recovery treatment. There are a variety of treatment programs available to you, and your loved ones, and Saint John’s Recovery Place is one of the best heroin rehab centers in Florida for the job. At Saint John’s Recovery Place, you can expect:

Heroin Detox

The first step to recovery is to get you off of the drug, and there are many hospitals that offer medical detox to help with this first step in Heroin detox, much like any other type of medical detox, allows for the use of FDA approved opioid antagonist medications to be used to assist you, or your loved one, through your withdrawal symptoms in Florida. Heroin detox is just the first step to take in your recovery journey, and although it may be uncomfortable, the outcome is well worth going through the process. Medications used for heroin detox in Florida include:

  • Methadone (Dolophine or Methadose)
  • Buprenorphine (Subutex)
  • Naltrexone (Vivitrol)

Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient or residential treatment programs are the next steps for you to take in your journey through heroin rehab. Florida inpatient or residential programs work like most other inpatient programs across the nation and can provide you, or your loved one, with 24/7 medical supervision and assistance, as well as intensive therapies and treatment plans, designed specifically for you and your needs. Inpatient treatment programs include:

  • Short-term inpatient plans (about 30 days on average)
  • Long-term inpatient plans (about 90 days on average)
  • Therapeutic communities
  • Support groups
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Alternative therapies (animal-assisted programs, yoga, acupuncture, etc.)
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Skill building and development

Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient drug rehab in Florida works much like other outpatient programs across the nation as well. In an outpatient program, you can either elect to have a more intensive type of treatment, with more supervision, and required counseling and therapy hours, are a more relaxed plan, which would still require you to engage in group support meetings and counseling, but will require less hours for you to do so. Normally, outpatient programs schedule anywhere from 10 to 30 hours of program treatment a week. Outpatient treatment programs incorporate all of the same treatment options as an inpatient program, but allows for you to live off of facilities grounds, and gives you back a little more freedom. Outpatient programs are typically used as a next step, after you have completed your inpatient program, so that you can begin to reintroduce yourself to home life and society in a more productive manner.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

This type of treatment may sound very intimidating, but it does not have to scare you. Dual diagnosis treatment centers in Florida, are the same as inpatient and outpatient rehab centers. They work to treat the same substance abuse addictions and problems as each other, and use the same methodologies to do so. But, Florida dual diagnosis rehab is specifically used to help treat individuals who suffer from polysubstance abuse. How?

Dual diagnosis residential treatments centers in Florida, work slowly and steadily, to help treat those with polysubstance use disorder, or co-occurring mental health issues, to recover from all of their abused substances at once, taking special time to deal with both the mental and physical implications of these types of disorders carefully, as to ensure complete recovery, and not to just treat one issue half-heartedly, while helping you to overcome another fully. Dual diagnosis rehab is about holistic healing, in the most complete manner possible, to ensure a healthier recovery journey outcome.

Get Help for Heroin Addiction

Here at Saint John’s Recovery place, we know that taking that first step towards recovery can be scary, and nerve-racking. You may feel uncertain whether or not you are making the right decision, or if you are even ready to begin your journey towards healing. We are here for you, ready to help you and love you through your hardest, scariest, and most uncertain moments, and that includes taking the first step of reaching out to us for help. It is important to remember that your recovery is in your own hands, no one can do it for you, but at Saint John’s detox center we are ready to help you through every step of the way. Don’t wait to seek out help until it is too late. Start your recovery journey today, it is well worth the sacrifice, to be able to feel like yourself again.