Heroin is known for its short-lived but deeply euphoric high. It’s also accompanied by a number of less pleasant symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, heavy feeling, slow heart rate, dry mouth and “nodding out” (falling in and out of consciousness).
But how can you spot the signs of heroin addiction if someone is trying to hide their use? Keep an eye out for drug paraphernalia, such as syringes, burnt spoons, metal or glass pipes and scorched aluminum foil. Also, many people who use heroin intravenously have “track marks” (or punctures at injection sites) on the body, especially the forearms. People who are actively addicted to heroin may have an unkempt appearance, and have neglected their personal hygiene.
In terms of behavior, you may notice that your loved one has been isolating from relationships and avoiding activities he or she used to enjoy. It’s not uncommon for people who are addicted to heroin to neglect their responsibilities at work or school, and to experience problems with the law. They may also struggle with concentration and motor control.
In addition to its addictive properties, heroin use can easily lead to overdose and death. It’s extremely difficult to know what goes into street drugs like heroin, and it can be very hard to decipher how potent they are, because they’re often “cut” with other substances. Fentanyl, for instance, is 20 to 50 times stronger than heroin. Someone might have no idea he or she is purchasing heroin that has been adulterated with fentanyl. The result can be an accidental overdose.
Overdose happens when breathing slows dramatically or even stops. This in turn drops the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain — leading to coma, brain damage and possibly death.
Heroin — which goes by a variety of street names, including “horse,” “H” and “smack” — is derived from the seeds of the opium plant. It can take a number of forms, including white or brown powder. Also, black tar heroin can take on a dark, sticky appearance thanks to its many impurities. Regardless of its appearance or form, heroin is often smoked or injected. Some people choose to combine heroin with other addictive substances, including crack cocaine.
You may have wondered what the difference is between opiates and opioids. It turns out that both substances share a very similar molecular structure, which also means they share similar effects on the brain. Heroin and other natural substances like morphine come from the poppy plant; however, their natural origin doesn’t make them any safer. In fact, these are some of the most addictive substances available today. Prescription opioids, such as medicines like OxyContin and Vicodin, are synthetic versions of natural opiates. All of them are exceptionally addictive.
Heroin has been available as a street drug for decades, although its popularity increased along with the opioid crisis. At Hope Canyon, we continue to treat people from all walks of life who have been affected by heroin addiction. In many cases, we see people who became addicted to prescription opioids but turned to heroin as a substitute when the pills became unavailable.
Fortunately, we have the tools and experience to address the root causes of addiction, including trauma, co-occurring mental health conditions and other situations. Our behavioral health team will work closely with you to develop an individualized recovery plan that addresses your heroin addiction from various angles — for the greatest chance at success.
At Hope Canyon, we offer treatment approaches that have proven success with heroin and other addictions — including safe medical detox, residential inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization program, and our aftercare programs.
In terms of evidence-based therapies, approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing (MI) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) are especially effective treatment options for heroin addiction. Also, while you’re a part of Hope Canyon addiction rehab in San Diego, you’ll have access to our wellness program, featuring nutrition, yoga and meditation. These holistic options help you to grow strong in body, mind and spirit as you conquer your heroin addiction.
If you or someone you love is battling heroin addiction, we understand how defeating it can feel. But we also know there’s hope. Please don’t wait. Pick up the phone — or just fill out the quick form — to get in touch with Hope Canyon today. We’re ready to help you recover now.