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Heroin Addiction

A user can become addicted to the heroin high after a single use, and it is estimated that physical dependency can occur within one week of consistent use, if not sooner.

What is Heroin?

Heroin is an opioid derived from the sap of a poppy pod, which contains naturally occurring opiates. In medicine, the term opiate references narcotic opioid alkaloids found in the poppy plant; however, in the context of addiction, the term opiate references potentially fatal synthetic drugs. Opiates have been recognized as the most effective painkillers in medicine, as they produce an intense effect of relaxation while temporarily blocking pain receptors in the brain.

Heroin is among the top deadliest substances. When used, it attaches to receptors in the brain stem that control breathing and blood pressure, which greatly increases the chances that an addict will experience heroin-related respiratory complications or death.

How Heroin Addiction Affects Families

Family members of heroin addicts oftentimes live in constant fear that their loved one will overdose or contract an intravenous disease. If a mother is addicted to heroin, she is likely emotionally and physically unavailable to her children, which can lead them to feel neglected, depressed, or anxious; experiencing these feelings as a child could result in lifelong issues with abandonment and even addiction.

Possible Signs of Heroin Use

Heroin is considered a “downer” that results in a euphoric experience. Immediate effects of heroin include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry mouth, also called “cotton” mouth
  • Constricted pupils
  • Erratic behavior
  • Confusion
  • Involuntarily falling asleep, also called “nodding”
  • Slow, heavy movements

However, if you suspect that a loved one is using heroin, please note that the symptoms above aren’t exclusive to substance abuse.

Behavioral Effects of Heroin Addiction

As the addiction to heroin progresses, the addict commonly begins showing behavioral inconsistencies, including:

  • Lying
  • Substantial increases in sleeping
  • Incoherent speech, rambling
  • Lack of pride in personal hygiene and appearance
  • Sudden distance from friends and family
  • Borrowing money
  • Extreme mood swings, manic behavior
  • Theft
  • Emotional projection

Other Than an Overdose…

There are many health risks associated with heroin abuse. Short-term risks include fatal overdose; listed below are the more severe long-term risks, such as:

  • HIV/AIDS (intravenous use)
  • Hepatitis C (intravenous use)
  • Collapsed veins (intravenous use)
  • Infection of the heart lining and valves
  • Abscesses
  • Cellulitis
  • Liver Disease
  • Pulmonary complications, including pneumonia

Withdrawing From Heroin

The high of heroin is described as calm and warmth spreading through the body and a dissipation of concerns. Users experience temporary feelings of happiness and contentment.

But when the high wears off, the user will experience mild symptoms like irritability, anxiety, sweating, aching muscles, and insomnia. Then, if they don’t use again, they could start showing more severe symptoms like vomiting and intense muscle cramping.

Although withdrawal from heroin is not life-threatening, the effects can happen so quickly that an addict continues to use just to avoid “dopesickness.”

About Treatment

Sadly, the number of heroin-related deaths just continues to rise. At Canyon Vista, we support and believe in every individual’s ability to turn their life around and heal after heroin addiction. All it takes is the first step of admitting you have a problem; then, Canyon Vista can help you start on the path to recovery.

For more information about Canyon Vista Recovery Center, contact us at
(888) 979-1840.