Are you worried that you or someone close to you is addicted to Heroin? Help is at hand. Here, we tell you all about Heroin, addiction to Heroin, what to look out for and how we can get you or a loved one the best possible treatment locally, in the UK and overseas.
Addiction to Heroin
Typically Heroin users are seen as down and outs, the lowest of the low; individuals who will resort to stealing from their own families slender purses; who will use, abuse and manipulate to get funds for their next fix. To an extent this can be true, but it is also true for many other addictions, not just Heroin. The first thing to realise is that Heroin is just a symptom of an untreated disease : the disease of addiction.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as a, “chronic relapsing brain disease”. Many specialists in treating addiction, scientists and medical experts agree with this definition. How could an individual possibly choose to sink to such extremes? to hurt those that they love? to become someone that they hate? to risk their life on a daily basis? to wish for an end to the constant pull of Heroin?
If addiction was a choice, surely the individual would choose to stop? Yet despite breakdowns in relationships and families, lost jobs, health warnings, attempting various methods of control or stopping….the addict continues in their downward spiral of self-annihilation and harm to others. Addiction is a life threatening disease, no matter what substance or self destructive behaviour is involved. Eventually, it strips the individual of all confidence, self worth and love; taking them to a place of isolation and numbness where they wish for the end.
What Is Heroin?
Heroin is processed from morphine, a potent substance extracted from the seed pod of poppy plants. It’s a fast-acting opiate which acts as a powerful analgesic to produce a calming, relaxing effect. Heroin slows down the bodies functions and substantially reduces physical and psychological pain. Users tend to get a rush within seconds of taking it, depending on how they take it. A small dose will produce a feeling of well being; larger doses make the user feel very relaxed and euphoric. Their cares and worries melt away as the drug takes effect. Heroin can be ingested in various ways; commonly it is smoked or injected but can also be snorted and added to liquid as a drink. Alternative names for Heroin include Smack, Scag, Big H, Gear, Brown, Dark, B’s and Black Tar. Different areas of the country will often have their own term for it.
Heroin is an extremely powerful narcotic and about five times more addictive than Morphine. Users become quickly physically dependent on Heroin. This is mainly due to the intense euphoria it produces and the horrific withdrawal symptoms. This causes a bodily craving and a strong psychological desire to keep using. Tolerance and dependence also build quickly, the length of the high shortens and becomes less intense, so users have to take increasingly large amounts of Heroin in order to achieve the same effect and to avoid a very uncomfortable withdrawal state. A physical dependence to Heroin can happen in a matter of days of continuous using.
Initially the euphoric effects will last for hours, during this period the individual will be in a sedated and zombie like state, often referred to as “gouching”. They are unlikely to eat or wash and will slip in and out of sleep, losing all perspective of time and awareness of what is going on around them. Many describe the feelings of warmth and safety that Heroin gives them; likening it to being wrapped in a big warm cushion of love; where they experience no mental, physical or emotional pain. The reality is very, very different. They are prone to self neglect, malnutrition, neglect of others (including their own children) major health complications and sudden death by overdose.
The Functioning Heroin Addict
This is a term used for those that still have an element of manageability to their lives. Materialistically, they may still have everything a person could possibly desire, a good job, a nice home, car, family, social life. They may be occasional users, or using only just enough to keep them at a functioning and non withdrawing level. They may even have a dependency, but they manage that dependency without consequences to themselves or others. Most addicts will go through a period where they have control of their substance use and not everyone who uses alcohol or drugs is an addict.
Some can exercise control and willpower, some can choose to moderate or stop. But for an individual suffering with the disease of addiction, bodily and mentally they react very differently to alcohol and drugs. Their substance use will gain in momentum, as will the consequences to themselves and to others. An addict will rarely be in control for very long.
Using Paraphernalia for Heroin
If you have a loved one, family member or friend who you have concerns are using Heroin, finding paraphernalia used to ingest the drug may give you the confidence to confront them about it. Addicts are very clever at covering their tracks, they have to be, so that they can continue in their addiction without being questioned. However, most addicts, when losing control of their using and a grip on reality, will become careless and show more and more signs of their spiralling addiction to Heroin.
Heroin Paraphernalia can include:
- Pipes for smoking
- Spoons, usually bent at an angle with scorch marks on the underside, this is how the drug is heated (injecting)
- Clear plastic small bags, folded cardboard (used to store or buy or sell the drug)
- Folded pieces of tin foil (smoking)
- Rolled up tubes (smoking)
- Hollowed out pens (smoking)
- Needles (injecting)
- Citrus, Vit C packs or lemon (used to break down the Heroin for injecting)
- Tourniquets (injecting)
Heroin can also be added to drinks, snorted and added to tobacco and rolled for smoking. Most paraphernalia used for smoking and injecting will have a sooty or black/brown/yellow residue on them.
Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Addiction
Aside from finding drug related paraphernalia relating to Heroin, there will be other signs that will be hard for an addict to hide for very long. If you are worried a family member or loved one may be using Heroin, it is helpful to be educated on the facts. Heroin ravishes the body and mind, so any marked change in the individual should not be ignored. By ignoring the problem, you are allowing them to continue in their using. Confronting a loved one can be frightening, but it may be the jolt they need to face reality and seek some help.
The Body of a Heroin Addict:
Weight loss, sometimes in the extreme
Pinched or gaunt look to their face
Track marks on arms and legs
Grey / pale skin
Sooty fingers, residue and prints left on walls and things the user has touched after using
Cellulitis in limbs
Slurred, slowed, delayed, speech
Pin prick pupils (constricted)
Unable to feel physical pain
Sleepiness / nodding
Slowed or shallow breathing
The Characteristics Of A Heroin Addict
Heroin is an expensive and very addictive drug. It is likely you will observe some marked changes in the users behaviour and appearance. Heroin addicts will beg, borrow and steal to get the money for their next fix. Their yearn and need for the drug overwhelms everything else. They are driven by a compulsion beyond their mental control. They may present as cold and uncaring, violent and agitated when in withdrawal. They are likely to use all forms of manipulation in order to get money from those that they love and when refused will often resort to stealing and committing crime.
Their addiction makes them secretive, devious and untrustworthy. They may come up with elaborate stories to explain their periods of absence or be indignant and defensive when prodded about their addiction. Heroin addicts will lead a double life presenting on the outside what they want the world to see, but once the drug takes over they will resemble little of their former selves and become a shell like slave to their next high.
Risks of Heroin addiction and injecting
Heroin has serious physical consequences. Injecting heroin can seriously damage veins and even lead to abscesses, blood poisoning, blood clots, gangrene and loss of limbs. Every time a user injects, they risk hitting an artery which can cause fatal blood loss. Over time, a Heroin user will run out of working veins and start to inject in high risk places such as the groin and neck. Sharing needles carries risks, such as Hepatitis infections and HIV. Heroin is a central nervous depressant which means the risk of overdose is very high. Overdoses can lead to coma and, ultimately, death from respiratory failure. Heroin also stops the body’s cough reflex working properly; this can result in death due to inhaling vomit.
Relapse on Heroin
As previously advised, addiction is a chronic relapsing illness – if not treated correctly. Heroin users that use after a period of abstinence/detox are at the highest risk of overdose and death. Their body will have readjusted to not having the drug and so they will have a very low tolerance. Many addicts will forget this and commence to use similar amounts and purity of Heroin that they did when they previously used. This can cause the body to shut down and the individual to die. It is important to know the risks; local drug and alcohol teams are able to advise on harm reduction and safer injecting. If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction, it will not be long before the full devastating effects of addiction to this drug start to re-occur and then increase.
Mixing Heroin with Other Drugs
Combining Heroin with other drugs is extremely risky. Users can mix Heroin with different types of sedatives and stimulants for increased highs and different experiences. Commonly used drugs are :
- Crack cocaine
- Prescription drugs
Mixing Heroin with a suppressant drug (Methadone/Valium/Alcohol etc) will increase the suppressant and sedative effects. This puts the individual at higher risk of overdose or accidents under the influence.
Mixing Heroin with a stimulant drug (Speed/Crack/Cocaine), will send the user’s body into overdrive. They will experience a rollercoaster of highs and activity and mixed with a suppressed and sedated state. This puts immense pressure on the individual’s heart and internal organs.
Withdrawing from heroin can be extremely painful and dangerous, and should be carried out under medical supervision. For over 30 years, Heroin addiction has been treated using a medication called Methadone, a synthetic opiate that blocks the effects of Heroin, reduces cravings and eliminates withdrawal symptoms. However, Methadone carries its own risks as it is extremely addictive, users can use Heroin on top to increase the effects if they choose to continue to get high and withdrawal is just as uncomfortable as Heroin. There is also the risk of the individual developing an addiction to the Methadone if detox or substitution is conducted in the community.
Any detox should be combined with behavioural therapies, counselling and other support services in order for the user to live a heroin-free life. Residential rehab treatment is particularly effective in dealing with Heroin addiction. The preferred substitute used in our rehabs is Subutex medication, which is much more easier to manage medically and psychologically; it also makes the detox more comfortable for the individual. Follow-up treatment is essential to keep the individual on the path to recovery. At Addiction Helper, we will help you to explore your options and provide all the support that you and your family need.
The most difficult thing about any kind of addiction is the user actually admitting that he/she has a problem. Most people might start using drugs, such as Heroin, at weekends to escape from reality and to relax, but it can all too easily become a habit that is very difficult to shake off and can escalate.
If someone is addicted to Heroin they are more than likely the last person to see that they have a problem. Quite often, in today’s stressful society, coping with everyday problems might mask an individual’s addiction to Heroin and they may not be aware that they are actually addicted. The nature of Heroin addiction is that addicts will continue to use the drug despite its adverse effects on their life and health.
Undergoing a strict detox regime that is medically supervised and psychologically supported in a safe environment such as a rehab, gives the individual the best chance of becoming Heroin free AND staying Heroin free!
Treatment Programmes for Heroin Addiction and Abuse
Depending on the individual’s circumstances and the level of addiction or abuse they are suffering from, will indicate the type and the intensity of treatment required for a full and permanent recovery. Inpatient residential rehab is the preferred option for success and safety. Addiction Helper can advise on many different rehab options to suit all budgets. Please do not hesitate to call us and speak to one of our knowledgeable and friendly addiction experts. We can assess you or your loved one, free of charge, and provide confidential and professional advice on the best Heroin addiction treatment programmes in the UK and overseas. We only work with rehabs that are highly established, use proven methods of Heroin addiction treatment and detox and are regulated by the Care Quality Commission.
We can arrange urgent admissions and provide a bespoke and intensive detox and rehabilitation programme for you or your loved one. We witness the miracle of recovery from addiction daily, let us help you.
Engaging in one of our therapeutic rehabilitation programmes will give you or your loved one the best chance of successfully overcoming Heroin addiction or abuse for good. We specialise in providing life saving treatment to those affected by all kinds of addictions and co occurring illnesses. We can provide different lengths of treatment programme, dependent on your personal clinical needs and requirements. Typically our inpatient rehab programmes will consist of the following:
Heroin Detox and full professional medical assessment
Ongoing medical care throughout treatment
Personalised rehabilitation treatment programme
Treatment for co occurring and mental health illnesses
Treatment administered by qualified professionals such as Doctors, Medical Staff, Counsellors, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Holistic Therapists and Rehabilitation Recovery workers.
Aftercare and follow up
Heroin Treatment Therapies
Addiction helper only use proven and effective methods of treating Heroin addiction. We want permanent recovery for you or your loved one. Our treatment ethos is to equip the individual with the tools that they need to continue in a happy and healthy sobriety and to treat the underlying causes and conditions of the addiction in a safe and therapeutic environment. Many of our qualified therapists and professionals have experienced addiction first hand; our passion for helping the still suffering addict and their families is unrivalled. Enrolling in one of our rehab treatment programmes, the individual can expect to receive a combination of the following powerful and effective methods of treating addiction:
- One to One Counselling
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- Dialectical Behavioural Therapy
- Process Therapy
- Group Therapy
- 12 Step Therapy
- Trauma Therapy
- Holistic Therapies
- Health and body management
- Spiritual development
- Educational Workshops
- Art Therapy
- Music Therapy
- Fitness Programme
- Relapse Prevention
- For more information and a comprehensive assessment of you or your loved ones individual treatment needs, please call us now or chat to us live online!