Are you worried that you or someone close to you is addicted to heroin? Help is at hand. Here we tell you a little about heroin, what to look out for and how we can get you or a loved one the best possible treatment.

What is heroin addiction?

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 an analgesic to produce a calming, relaxing effect. Heroin slows down body function and substantially reduces physical and psychological pain. Users tend to get a rush within a few minutes of taking it. A small dose produced a feeling of well being; larger doses make the user feel very relaxed. Heroin  is usually injected intravenously but can also be snorted as a powder, heated and inhaled or smoked, or swallowed.  Alternative names for heroin included smack, skunk, scag, big H, gear, brown crystal and black tar. Heroin is a powerful narcotic and about  five times more addictive than morphine. Users become quickly become physically dependent on heroin. This causes a craving and a strong psychological desire to keep using. Tolerance also builds quickly 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.

Signs, symptoms and risks of heroin addiction

The most obvious sign that someone is abusing heroin is track marks on their arms and legs, or other parts of their body.  Other signs include constricted pupils, slurred speech, runny nose and shallow breathing. Heroin changes the brain’s chemistry so look out for slower reactions and memory loss.  Users may appear apathetic and lose interest in their appearance and hygiene. Heroin has serious physical consequences.  Injecting heroin can seriously damage veins and even lead to gangrene.  Sharing needles carries risks, such as hepatitis 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 stops the body’s cough reflex working properly. This can result in death due to inhaling vomit.

Treating heroin addiction

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 non-sedative, synthetic opiate that blocks the effects of heroin, reduces cravings and eliminates withdrawal symptoms. Detox and methadone 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. Follow-up treatment is essential to keep the individual on the path to recovery. At Addiction Helper, we’ll help you 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 harsh reality and to relax, but it can all to easily become a problem that is very difficult to shake off.

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 sometimes stressful society, coping with everyday problems might mask an individual’s addiction to heroin and they may not be aware that they are actually totally addicted. The nature of heroin is that addicts will continue to use the drug despite its adverse effects on their life and health.

What are some of the signs of heroin addiction?

  • Has their appearance changed, do they still take care of themselves properly?
  • Do they suffer from a lack of appetite and poor diet?
  • Are there puncture marks on their arms or legs?
  • Do they appear constantly listless and tired?
  • Are their eyes red and the pupils dilated?
  • Is their conversation rapid, slurred or rambling?
  • Do they suffer with the shakes and have cold, clammy hands?
  • Is there drug paraphernalia around their home or bedroom?
  • Are they hyperactive or have a radically changed sleep pattern?

While this list is not comprehensive, it gives an indication of some of the symptoms addicts may exhibit.They will not blame themselves, but seek to put the reason for drug use on everybody else around them.If you are correct it may be wise to seek professional help in dealing with the situation and supporting the person through their difficult times.