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Facts About Heroin

Heroin is a synthetic opiate drug that is highly addictive. It only takes a few hits to become addicted to heroin. An addict has to take heroin multiple times a day because the effects of withdrawal occur very quickly. It is made from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the Asian opium poppy plant. More about what’s in heroin.

How Heroin Works

Heroin enters the brain, where it is converted to morphine and binds to receptors known as opioid receptors. The opioid receptors are located in many areas of the brain. Since they are found in the area that deals with perception of pain, heroin is sometimes used under the name of diamorphine in some hospitals to reduce fever and pain. Opioid receptors are also located in the brain stem, which is important for breathing, blood pressure, and arousal. After an injection of heroin, users feel a surge of euphoria, which is known as a “rush.” Following the initial “rush”, the user goes “on the nod,” an alternately wakeful and drowsy state. Mental functioning becomes clouded. If heroin is not injected, the user may not feel the intense “rush,” but the other effects will be there.

How to Take Heroin

Heroin can be injected, snorted/sniffed, or smoked. These are the quickest ways for the drug to go to the brain. View our heroin addiction video.

  • Injecting uses a needle to release the drug directly into the bloodstream. It is not the fastest way, but delivers the greatest high.
  • Snorting is the process of inhaling heroin powder through the nose where it is absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal tissues.
  • Smoking involves inhaling heroin smoke into the lungs. The high when smoking is almost immediate, but it is less intense. It is more of a calm buzz than a consuming high.

All three methods of administering heroin can lead to addiction and other severe health problems.

Heroin Health Problems

Using heroin can lead to many long-term as well as short-term problems.

  • If a user shares needles for injecting heroin, they could contract AIDS or hepatitis from a dirty needle. When a user is addicting to injecting heroin, they can also develop collapses veins.
  • In addition to the drug itself, street heroin often includes additives (these are often toxic) that could clog the blood vessels that lead to the heart, kidney, liver, lungs, etc causing permanent damage to vital organs. A user could develop an infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, and liver or kidney disease.
  • If the user is pregnant, it could lead to several complications during birth: miscarriage, losing the baby during infancy, premature delivery, breathing difficulties, hypoglycemia, bleeding in the brain, or the baby could even be born dependant on the drug. The drug passes through the placenta, so the baby is exposed to the drug as often as the expecting mother is.
  • The user could also suffer from a fatal overdose. However, if the overdose becomes fatal, typically the heroin would be mixed with some other drug or alcohol.

Heroin Treatment Options

Because of the nature of heroin addiction, it is difficult to quit using without professional help. The effects of withdrawal that an addict will go through when quitting are very intense and unpleasant. Some of the effects are vomiting, irritability, anxiety, loss of appetite, hot and cold flashes, aches, fever, rapid breathing, diarrhea, and dehydration. However, there are drugs that can help reduce these symptoms during detox. Methadone and buprenorphine are usually administered by physicians during a detox period. Get Heroin Addiction Treatment.

After a user goes through detox, they also should seek help from a rehab facility in order to get the continued watch and counseling necessary to beat the addiction. A patient who only goes through detox is more likely to relapse.

If you or a loved one is addicted to heroin and would benefit from heroin detox rehab, it is important to seek help. Once addicted, the effects are devastating. Most lose their jobs, dreams, and ambitions. In some cases, it only takes one shot to become addicted. But, there is hope. If you are interested in receiving information on heroin detox or rehab, please call the toll free number at 855-315-4777.