Heroin is one of today’s most commonly abused substances. It’s an opioid drug processed from morphine, a natural substance derived from the seed pod of poppy plants. Unlike other opioids, heroin has no legitimate medical uses.

Heroin is produced in white and brown powder form and also as a sticky residue called black tar heroin. It’s taken by injection, smoking or snorting, or mixed with cocaine (speedballing).

Despite the serious, life-threatening risks and side effects that come with the drug, tens of thousands of Americans use and eventually become addicted to heroin. Regular heroin users often develop a tolerance, leading to a need for higher and more frequent doses. Their lives are destroyed, not only because of the assault of the drug on their body, but because of the financial devastation that comes from feeding their habit.

One of the most profound risks of using heroin is the inability to know what may have been added to the drug when it was produced or before it was sold. In addition to sugars, starches and powdered milk, dealers consistently cut heroin with more powerful drugs to make their supplies go father (and make more money). It is impossible to know what you’re putting in your body, which is why your next dose of heroin might be your last.

Heroin use has steadily risen among men and women in the United States. In 2017 alone, heroin was responsible for almost 16,000 U.S. deaths. At Elan Recovery + Wellness, we mourn those lost lives, and we rededicate ourselves every day to turning the tide on this plague. Anyone at any stage of heroin dependence and addiction needs to seek immediate treatment by immersing themselves in a reputable addiction rehabilitation program, such as the ones we offer at Elan Recovery + Wellness.

How Heroin Traumatizes the Body

Heroin enters the brain quickly, producing feelings of euphoria and drowsiness that last several hours. However, users may find that these effects begin to decrease in length with each additional use as their tolerance for the drug increases. Heroin use can also produce pronounced health effects, including:

  • Lapses in consciousness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Dry mouth
  • Liver disease
  • Uncontrollable itching
  • Slowed heart rate and breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting

Heroin Use and Withdrawal

Common symptoms of heroin abuse include nausea, vomiting and constipation. Continuous use of the drug can lead to tolerance, dependence, addiction and, for some, death.

Health risks of both short- and long-term heroin use include:

  • Infection
  • Abscesses
  • Slowed breathing
  • Dry mouth
  • Liver disease
  • Uncontrollable itching
  • Slowed heart rate and breathing
  • Other health risks include:
  • Hepatitis
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Pregnancy
  • Miscarriage
  • Low birth weight in babies born to heroin users
  • Collapsed veins in those who take the drug by injection.

As soon as the high dissipates, the user experiences unpleasant sensations such as severe itching, lethargy or heaviness in the arms and legs. The drug can also cause deterioration to the brain, leading to problems in cognitive function and memory.

Many users may attempt to stop using heroin on their own, developing symptoms such as insomnia, diarrhea, anxiety and bone pain. It is advised that withdrawal be supervised by a medical professional.

How Elan Treats Heroin Addiction

Elan partners with a number of highly reputable inpatient detox facilities, as detox is often indicated in the early stages of treatment for heroin addiction. Later, when your body has begun to clear the drug, the transition to outpatient treatment at Elan will be as seamless as we can make it.

At Elan Recovery + Wellness, we use a number of treatment methods to help our guests understand, manage, and emerge from addiction to heroin or other opioids, as well as any co-occurring mental health conditions:

  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Addiction education
  • NA meetings
  • Adaptive testing software, which helps us assess your mental health daily
  • Complete evaluation by a psychiatrist
  • If indicated, psychotropic medication to rebalance the brain chemistry
  • Weekly visits with our staff psychiatrist
  • Management of medications by our advanced psychiatric nurse practitioner

Am I an Addict?

Do you think you might be dependent on drugs or alcohol? Take a free, confidential assessment. Don’t put it off one more day. Find out.