Heroin is an opiate, highly addictive and illegal drug. It is usually white or brownish colored powder, sometimes sold as a black sticky substance which is called “Black Tar Heroin.” The drug is extracted from the seeds of different types of poppy plants. Many times when sold on the street, it is mixed with starch, sugar, powdered milk or quinine. Unfortunately, sometimes it is mixed with poisonous substances such as strychnine, and the person purchasing the drug never knows the true strength or contents.
A person taking heroin will certainly feel very good as it produces an intense high with its rush, making him or her feel a sense of well-being and warm serenity. However, what is the price paid for this momentary feeling? When addiction takes over someone’s life, it is vital a loved one can recognize the symptoms of heroin abuse so they can help.
The person will have a dry mouth when using heroin and his skin will become flushed. The pupil’s will be constricted. He will feel sleepy and can nod off unexpectedly. The breathing will slow. When awake, the heroin addict will not think clearly and his memory will be poor. He won’t be able to make good decisions and his self-control won’t be very good. Itching is common as is nausea and vomiting. When the person is looking for solutions to constipation, this is another sign, as constipation is often suffered by a heroin user.
When a parent or friend suspects someone is using heroin, it may take careful detective work to finally determine that this is a problem. Since heroin is most commonly snorted, smoked or injected, you can look for paraphernalia that accompanies use. The drug itself can be contained in small bags hidden somewhere. You may discover small glass or metal pipes among the person’s effects. Syringes are a giveaway of use of an injected drug. If you find a dirty spoon lying around or belts or rubber tubing, you can suspect heroin use.
The withdrawal symptoms of heroin are extremely uncomfortable, and this is part of the reason the person may be quite opposed to going to a drug rehab and coming off of the drug. Perhaps he or she has tried before and failed. This is because of the intense cravings for more of the drug, and because of the discomfort both mentally and physically when they haven’t had the drug for a while.
Someone coming off of heroin will feel withdrawal symptoms begin about a half day after he last uses it and these symptoms peak after about two to three days. They continue up to a week with severe reactions. The person will feel nauseous, may have stomach cramps, vomit and have a headache. He may have aches and pains, diarrhea, anxiety and depression. The sinuses will run and the person will be restless. Sweating is common.
If someone is pregnant, heroin use should definitely be avoided. The pregnant woman may have a miscarriage or have complications during pregnancy. The fetus can grow abnormally. The infant when born can have a low birth weight or have an actual addiction to the drug. If the mother has HIV or hepatitis, this can be transferred to the child.
Although heroin use is declining in the United States, many still are addicted to the drug and need help to come off of it. Heroin abuse is increasing in Europe, according to the United Nations. Demand for the drug has risen in France, Italy and the UK.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that in 2009, there were 605,000 Americans who were age twelve or older who had abused heroin within the year prior to being surveyed. In 2010, there were 0.9 percent of 12th graders who had abused heroin in the prior year. Even 8th graders and 10th graders had used heroin. This is a frightening fact and even if use is declining, even one child using this dangerous drug is a travesty.
It is an unfortunate fact that a heroin addict remains unaware of all the damage he is doing to his body and mind. He is quite numb to the overall effects mentally and physically, not to mention the heartache he is causing his family and friends. This is not because he has become a different person, but because the drug addiction makes it appear so. Underneath he is the same wonderful individual he always was. The drug has just hidden this individual away. The addict will neglect his own well-being and needs because of the cravings driving him. It takes a loving family member or friend to take charge and find him the help required to leave this drug behind.
There are many drug rehab programs that address heroin addiction, but many of them use alternative drugs (drug replacement therapy) to get a person off drugs. These drugs suppress the withdrawal symptoms, but are themselves addictive. For instance, methadone can be just as difficult to withdraw from as heroin. A person can end up being prescribed these substitute drugs for years after stopping heroin use. It is just replacing one addiction with another.
Some drug rehabs offer a “rapid detox” where the person is sedated. Deaths have been reported from the use of rapid detox and this process is not recommended by many United States health agencies. There is a high risk, as well as a high cost.
There are drug rehabs that offer successful recovery from heroin addiction. The best deliver a tolerable withdrawal using no substitute drugs, as well as address the physical problem of residue drugs remaining in the body. For anyone who has studied drug effects on the body, it is clear that drug residues lodge within the body and increase the chances that cravings will return. Another important aspect of recovery is to give the addict real mental help in recognizing what led to his drug abuse, and give him tools in order to overcome drug cravings, influences in his life and other factors that could cause relapse.
Call us so we can do an interview, find out all the specific information related to your loved one’s addiction, and we will find the right drug rehab for you – the one with the highest success rate at recovery.