Heroin Addiction - Rehab Guide

Heroin Addiction

Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction; signs, symptoms & advice

Of all of the drugs available to individuals, heroin might just be the most addictive. The heroin drug is an opiate and is a product created from the opium poppy.

It’s a descendant of morphine and was created in an effort to create a variant of morphine that wasn’t as addictive. It was soon discovered that heroin, just like morphine, was a powerfully addictive drug. We’re going to take a look at heroin use today, going into detail about how addictive it is, what it does to the body, and more.

Hopefully, the heroin facts below will give you a well-rounded view of why people do heroin and what options there are for heroin addiction treatment.

Signs of Heroin Addiction

When it comes to a heroin addiction the signs might not be as obvious to the outside world. How long does it take to get addicted to heroin? It could be a few months or it could be your first time taking heroin.

In any case, there are some similarities among those who are using heroin. That said, there’s no clear answer to what a heroin addict looks like.

“Some people might look like high-powered CEOs while others might not have homes.”

People who use heroin don’t always do so in a place where others can see them. In fact, they tend to be in their homes or in a comfortable environment where they won’t be disturbed.

As a result, the outside world won’t tell the difference until things in that person’s life start to get out of order. You might notice that the person starts to have less free time.

They’ll start to withdraw and become more secretive than they once were. They don’t have time for things you used to do together, and there’s not a good explanation as to why things are different or what they’re doing instead.

That trend starts to get more prominent as well. At first, there might be a few things that stick out as odd or different about the person. After a while, though, they will be harder and harder to get time with[1], and the time you do spend won’t be the same.

It takes a little while for the person’s resting personality to adjust to the heroin use. After addiction sets in, though, they’ll experience physical pain and cravings that pervade most of their life.

Heroin Addiction Treatment

It’s important to note that heroin addiction is something that many people get through with heroin rehab. Addiction can be a lifelong struggle, but it’s possible to break the pattern and establish a sober life.

In the case of heroin, treatment is very important. If you were quitting cigarettes, the withdrawals and cravings wouldn’t be enough to put you in a hospital bed.

Heroin withdrawals are powerful enough to make a person very ill, even killing them in some cases. Your body becomes very dependent on the drug, requiring it to maintain a sense of equilibrium.

“The longer the person has been doing heroin, the more painful the physical process of recovery will be.”

As you purge the toxins from your system, your body will exhibit flu-like symptoms, your internal organs will work overtime to retain normalcy, and the psychological effects of those things are intense.

Entering into a treatment centre allows you to go through this process in a safe environment. Professionals are there to make you comfortable and ensure that your physical symptoms are managed.

If you start to show dangerous signs of withdrawal, you’ll have a direct route to medical help right away. It’s also important to note that there are assistive medications to take while recovering from heroin.

Methadone and other drugs [2] are used to curb the symptoms of heroin withdrawal. These drugs plug opioid receptors in a way that mimics heroin but don’t get you high or produce effects.

Psychological Treatments

It’s also important to recognize that heroin addiction doesn’t pop up out of the blue. People who are otherwise healthy tend not to start using heroin. So, why do people take heroin?

Answering “why do people do heroin” is difficult because there are so many different reasons. There are environmental and personal factors that contribute to a person’s heroin use.

When addiction takes hold, there are a lot of potential reasons that someone might want to avoid their particular situation. Further, the damage that heroin addiction does to a person’s life can be hard to reckon with.

Your relationships might be damaged, your career destroyed, and your mind littered with guilt about these things. Even though there are understandable reasons that these things happen and addiction is a disease, it’s hard to shake the psychological toll of these factors.

As a result, it’s important to have counsellors and mental health professionals around while you’re going through treatment. They can help to contextualize the experience and work through your particular difficulties.

Further, a counsellor[3] is a good touchpoint when you’re out of treatment and you’re dealing with the realities of sober living. If you have someone to talk with and deconstruct the things you’re experiencing, you’ll be better off afterwards.

You can discuss triggers, difficult experiences, recovering relationships, and the emotional struggle that led you to addiction in the first place. When you utilize these tools, you make the recovery process a lot easier and effective.

Help is possible for you or your loved one who’s experiencing addiction.

Understanding the Heroin Drug

Heroin is a drug that can be consumed in a number of ways. It’s possible to smoke some variations of heroin, but most individuals shoot it into their veins via a needle after melting it with a heroin spoon.

Heroin abuse is often thought to exist among only poor or disadvantaged individuals, but abuse is found on all levels of society. Depending on the individual and level of abuse, it’s possible to be a functioning heroin addict.

Some people abuse heroin for years, managing to keep it from family members. These people can also hold a job, participate in the community, and lead a normal life. For most, though, heroin provides a steep descent into abuse that’s difficult to control.

As addiction ramps up, the levels of a person’s life that were once normal become too difficult to maintain. Heroin takes a physical toll on a person’s body and mind, also producing horrific symptoms of withdrawal.

Heroin use also produces a state of euphoria that might last a few hours or longer in some cases. In the throes of addiction, a person might either be high or experiencing cravings almost all hours of the day.

The push and pull of cravings and withdrawals are extreme. Strong enough to derail a person’s life, relationships, self-esteem, and ability to function.

What Does Heroin Look Like?

Opiates are responsible for 80 per cent[4] of drug-related deaths in The United Kingdom. Heroin takes up a chunk of that statistic, while prescription pain medications carry most of the weight.

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If you can have an idea of what these drugs look like, you’ll have an easier time avoiding them and staying free from use.

Heroin typically reaches the user in the form of a powder. Heroin powder can range in colour from white all of the way to grey and brown. Many individuals use a heroin spoon to boil the powder down to a liquid to insert into the needle.

If you see spoons with burn marks, small baggies with powder residue, or syringes, these are signs of heroin use. Heroin use is varied across different demographics as well, sparking the use of a number of names for it.

Some common names for heroin are smack drug, skag, black tar, horse, mud, dope, and H.

Why Is Heroin So Addictive?

Heroin is addictive for a number of physiological reasons.

Opiates operate on the brain centres and central nervous system. That’s why a lot of prescription pain medications are opiates. They’re effective at reducing or eliminating pain in extreme cases. So, one of the most sought-after heroin effects on the body is a lack of pain.

In that process, opiates dull much of the external sensations that a person feels. Using these drugs sends a person into a relaxed state on a fundamental level. The mind calms down, the body stops feeling pain, and what’s left is the effect of dopamine and endorphins firing off in full order.

Pain is reduced because heroin slows down the function of the central nervous system. The presence of endorphins and dopamine also serves to reduce pain in a significant way.

“Think of the lack of pain you feel after you have an intense exercise.”

Physical activity produces endorphins that run through the body intensely for a short period of time. They span out for a day or two after as well, but the effects are felt most right after. You might go on a run, finish, and feel a buzz of euphoria running through your body.

Shortly after, your body might start to hurt from an injury or achy muscles. Heroin provides more endorphins than those found after a nice run. So, the combination of endorphins and a slowed nervous system produces a very pleasurable experience.

Dopamine and Addiction

While there are a number of reasons for addiction, in most cases, the specific action of addiction lies in the dopamine response to particular drugs.

Dopamine serves numerous functions in the body, but one of those is to signal the pleasure response. We get a little dopamine hit when we do something that’s biologically useful. When you have sex, for example, you’re experiencing a rush of dopamine (in most cases.)

The same goes for exercising or completing a task at home. In the brain’s infinite wisdom, though, it often has a hard time discerning which things are useful and which appear to be.

“When we receive a notification on social media, we also get a little boost of dopamine. The same goes for smoking a cigarette, hitting a vaporizer, or doing heroin.”

The dopamine hit is what we look for to feel the reward of success. That’s why we’re often motivated to have sex or complete an important task. When we do that, we know we’ll buzz with dopamine and feel satisfied with what we’ve done.

It’s a powerful motivator[5].

Now, we introduce heroin to the body. It produces an excessive amount of dopamine. The dopamine you receive from a hit of heroin exceeds the feeling of that promotion at work, going on a date with a potential partner, or running that half-marathon.

In fact, there are few things in life that give the same dopamine rush as heroin. Winning a lottery jackpot or witnessing the birth of your child might compare.

When you experience it once, it doesn’t take long before you crave it again.

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Symptoms of Someone on Heroin

So, what is it like to be addicted to heroin? What’s the heroin before and after?

Someone abusing heroin will display a number of physical and behavioural heroin symptoms. We’ll split the heroin effects up into signs of someone who is actively on heroin and someone who might be addicted to heroin.

A person who has used heroin in the near past might look drowsy, tired, or drunken. The initial experience is one of euphoric heroin feeling. That rush might last for a period of a few minutes to more than an hour depending on the dose of heroin and tolerance of the individual.

Further, the quality of heroin is important. If the person has used white heroin, the purest form of heroin, the effects will be more pronounced.

In that stage, there’s not much that you could do to communicate with the person. It would be obvious that they were experiencing a drug of some kind, and their speech might not be coherent or useful. They’ll be in the state that one gets into when they’re just waking up from sleep or about to pass out.

Some people even fall asleep at that stage.

There’s also the potential for nausea and vomiting. After the rush, things start to take a turn for the worse and the individual will start to seem unwell. Their skin can get flushed, they might be itchy, slow-moving, and less coherent than normal.

The drowsiness of the drug doesn’t wear off for a few hours after the instance of use. It could be longer, depending on the dose and the person in question.

Further, someone who’s coming down from heroin might have a good deal of anxiety. They become short of breath, have some bodily pain, and might even have a headache or migraine.

Note that there are more symptoms of heroin use that could occur.

Want to Learn More About Heroin Addiction UK?

Heroin addiction is a problem in the United Kingdom. Heroin UK use is going up all of the time, and it’s important that information about recovery is available.

We’re here to help you learn all you need to know about heroin. Contact us for more insight into recovery centres, heroin misuse, and more treatment options.


  1. https://www.harleytherapy.co.uk/counselling/reach-out-to-someone.htm
  2. https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/methadone/
  3. https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/talk-therapy-stats.html
  4. https://www.drugwise.org.uk/heroin/
  5. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/mouse-man/200904/what-is-dopamine

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