Heroin Addiction Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

Heroin Addiction

A Guide To Heroin Addiction, Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

Heroin addiction rehab clinic London

If you or a loved one are struggling with a heroin addiction, Step by Step Recovery are here to help. Here we explain why heroin is so addictive and how you can access professional treatment to enable you to become heroin free.

Heroin is currently the number one cause of illicit drug related deaths in the UK. Heroin today is stronger, purer and more dangerous than ever before.

With the introduction of Fentanyl into the UK heroin market and substantial cutbacks to government funded heroin treatment, the UK is currently in an opioid crisis of shocking proportions.

If you have a problem with heroin, it is vital that you seek appropriate addiction help before it is too late.

Addiction to heroin never ends well for anyone. It is only those that find permanent recovery from this deadly drug and disease that are able to rebuild their lives and find peace within themselves and their personal relationships.

What is Heroin?

Skag, H, Smack, Brown, Horse

Heroin is a Class A powerful narcotic drug that can be sourced from street dealers. This makes it exceptionally dangerous as the content and the strength of the heroin is an unknown.

Heroin is extremely physically and psychologically addictive. Some addicts say they became addicted from the very first hit they had.

Heroin can cause addiction within as little as 3 to 5 days of frequent use. Heroin withdrawal symptoms are not known to be life threatening but they can be in an individual in particularly poor health.

Heroin can be smoked from a pipe, bong, foil or rolled with tobacco. It can also be snorted or prepared and injected intravenously for a faster and more pronounced high.

Many heroin addicts start off smoking or snorting heroin only to progress on to intravenous drug use as they become more tolerant to its effects.

Once tolerance to heroin has occurred in an individual, they will find that they need more of the drug in order to achieve the desired effects. Taking any less than their tolerance level will cause heroin withdrawal symptoms to develop; taking too much can cause instantaneous overdose and death.

Is Heroin An Opiate?

Heroin is an opiate that is derived from the flowering opium poppy plant. Heroin works by binding to the brain’s opioid receptors.

In addition to inducing a euphoric state by triggering the mass release of dopamine and various other naturally occurring feel good chemicals, it also works as a powerful analgesic by blocking pain signals from the body to the brain.

Other examples of opiates are codeine and morphine, although these drugs are regulated as medicinal opiates.

Is Heroin an Opiate or Opioid?

Opiates and opioids, are two names that are frequently used interchangeably to describe the same class of drugs that act on the brain’s opioid receptors.

Opiates are pure compounds that are derived from the opium poppy plant, whereas opioids are any compound (including synthesised and semi-synthesised drugs) that act on the opioid receptors in the brain. Going by this definition heroin is an opiate, it is a pure opiate compound.

How Dangerous is Heroin?

Heroin is extremely dangerous due to its strength of intoxication. It can cause instantaneous death from just one use.

Although there are measures that can be taken to reduce risks associated with this drug, there is no actual safe way of using heroin.

Dangers associated with heroin are increased if the drug is administered intravenously rather than smoked or inhaled. Government harm minimisation measures tend to concentrate on intravenous heroin users as this method of administration is responsible for the most deaths.

The Risks of Heroin Addiction

The biggest risk associated with using heroin is the risk of death. Taking too much heroin or using heroin that is purer than your body is accustomed to can easily result in overdose and death.

Developing an Addiction is also a substantial risk with this drug. Heroin, as with all opiates can cause addiction within a very short space of time.

Once a physical addiction to heroin has occurred, it is very difficult for a user to stop. Heroin withdrawal symptoms can be severe and debilitating and only truly relieved by taking more heroin.

Many addicted heroin users require a medical heroin detox and an drug rehabilitation programme to help them to stop taking heroin and maintain recovery.

Video: How Drug Addiction Works – What Happens Inside The Brain

Short Term Effects and Risks of Heroin Use

Short term effects of heroin use include the following risks:

  • Overdose
  • Coma
  • Respiratory Arrest
  • Death
  • Contracting a bloodborne disease such as HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C
  • Choking on vomit – blocked airways

Long Term Effects and Risks of Heroin

The longer you use heroin, the more likely you are to be exposed to the following side effects and risks associated with long term heroin use:

  • Intestinal problems, chronic constipation and blockages
  • Contracting a bloodborne disease such as HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C
  • Collapsed veins
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis
  • Cellulitis
  • Sepsis
  • Infections and abscesses
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart and lung problems
  • Severe weight loss

Signs of Heroin Addiction

Spotting the signs of heroin addiction in a family member or someone you love can give you the confidence you need to challenge them to accept professional help.

Addicts are usually very careful to hide their drug use, being found out makes it harder for them to continue.

In the case of heroin addiction, look out for the following signs:

  • Heroin paraphernalia including needles, foil, citrus packs, pipes and tourniquets
  • Sooty residue on walls, light switches and other things they have touched after using.
  • Bloody stains on sleeves, walls and floors
  • They are drowsy and incoherent with pinpoint pupils
  • They have become secretive and withdrawn from family and old friends
  • They have lost weight and have a greyish tinge to their skin
  • They no longer take pride in their appearance or personal hygiene
  • Their behaviour is erratic and unreliable
  • They frequently disappear
  • Money and valuables have gone missing from your home that you suspect they have taken
  • They are always asking for money

Heroin drug paraphernalia can include, foil, needles, pipes, cotton wool, spoons, tourniquets, lighters, candles and citrus fruits or packs.

Helping a Family Member With a Heroin Addiction Seek Help

If you suspect that your family member is struggling with a heroin addiction it is important not to ignore the issue.

We recommend that you learn about the drug and the treatment options available before speaking to them. This way you will have knowledge around what they are experiencing and offer a valid solution to help them access heroin recovery.

If they refuse to accept help, ensure that you do not enable their addiction in anyway as this will only prolong their ability to keep their head above water. Addicts will only stop when they feel continuing in their addiction is too painful and too unmanageable.

Heroin Addiction Treatment Options

When it comes to accessing heroin addiction treatment options there are 3 main pathways:

  1. Admit to a private drug rehab for a medical heroin detox and rehabilitation programme.
  2. Refer to local drug and alcohol services for assistance with detoxing in the community and approach GP for support
  3. Access self help and support groups such as SMART recovery and Narcotics Anonymous

Free Rehab for Heroin Addiction

Due to substantial funding cuts to the addiction services sector in the UK, it is now harder to secure rehab funding than ever before. There is no such thing as an NHS heroin rehab. All rehab treatment programmes have to be funded from somewhere, whether that be through privately funding or through securing government rehab funding.

You can apply for funding through your local drug and alcohol services. However, there are lengthy waiting lists and you will be required to attend many appointments and courses before being considered.

Private Treatment For Heroin Addiction

Private treatment options for heroin addiction include inpatient heroin detox, residential rehab and daycare rehab.

Statistically, residential detox and rehabilitation offers the best long term treatment outcome. In rehab, patients are able to access intensive professional addiction counselling and therapy to address the underlying causes that led to their addiction.

Addicts aren’t just addicted to escaping reality, they are addicted to escaping themselves. We know this through years of experience working with drug addicts at an intensive psychological and therapeutic level.

Easing Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

There are a number of pharmaceutically approved medications that can assist with detoxing from heroin. They work by reducing the severity and length of the symptoms that occur during heroin withdrawal.

Common Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Common heroin withdrawal symptoms can include: aches, pains , fever, shivers, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, sweating, restless legs, severe insomnia, poor appetite, stomach cramps, intense cravings for heroin, listlessness, anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations – auditory or visual.

Heroin Rehab

The quickest way to access heroin rehab is to self fund treatment. Heroin rehab programmes are specifically designed to unearth and heal the root causes and challenge the core belief systems that drive the addiction.

Private heroin rehab will also provide a full medical heroin detox when required.

Maintaining Recovery From Heroin Addiction

Stopping heroin is one thing, staying stopped requires ongoing work on oneself. Addiction is a disease of the brain that is progressive in nature. Whilst it can be arrested through detox or quitting heroin, in order to maintain recovery and avoid relapse, the individual will need to implement the tools of recovery learned whilst in treatment and continue to access support networks.

Our Heroin Rehab Programme

Step by Step Recovery offer a comprehensive medical detox and bespoke addiction rehab programme for those that suffer from heroin addiction. We apply a holistic approach to addiction treatment, treating the mind, body and spirit for comprehensive healing.

For those that complete our inpatient heroin rehab programme, free lifetime aftercare is provided to help support maintaining heroin addiction recovery.

Please call us directly or complete and return our online assessment form to start your journey to becoming heroin free today!

Resources and futher help

Sidebar