In the past, heroin was used as a prescription painkiller, but it was made illegal in the 20th century because of its highly addictive nature. Today, it’s defined as a Schedule 1 drug. In 2015, there were more than 13,000 deaths involving heroin. From 2002 to 2015, deaths attributed to the drug increased 6-fold. With today’s ongoing opioid crisis, a growing number of people have started to use the drug.
Heroin is an opioid that is made from morphine, a naturally occurring substance that can be found in opium poppy plant seeds. The drug can be injected, snorted, or smoked, and those who are highly addicted to heroin often mix it with crack cocaine to achieve an even stronger (and more dangerous) high.
Like all harmful substances, heroin impacts the major organs in the body, especially the brain. Long-term heroin use can lead to irreversible damage to various parts of the brain. If someone you know is addicted to heroin , it’s important to understand the health implications of the drug, as well as the best way to go about finding treatment.
Signs of Heroin Use
Someone who is addicted to heroin has a physical dependence on the drug. Because of this, the body exhibits all sorts of symptoms that are telltale signs that your loved one is addicted. The most common signs of heroin addiction include:
- Mood swings
- Weight loss
- Lack of personal hygiene
As with most addicts, those addicted to heroin often lie about their drug use and are in denial that they are addicted to the substance. If you find any heroin-related paraphernalia, like a white powdery substance or needles, burned spoons, or a glass pipe, chances are your loved one is addicted to heroin and needs immediate assistance.
Effects of Heroin Addiction
The implications of heroin use and abuse vary, from person to person, depending on how much heroin is used, how often it’s used, and other drugs that may also be taken. Short-term side effects include mood swings, loss of appetite, dry mouth, flushing of the skin, and slowed breathing. Prolonged use of heroin causes symptoms to become much more severe.
Long-term heroin use can cause skin disease, liver disease, and even kidney disease. Misuse or sharing of needles can lead to Hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV—health conditions that can be fatal if left untreated. Over-injection of the drug can cause the veins to collapse or become extremely scarred. Most addicts start by injecting in their arms but, over time, must use other areas of the body to successfully inject the drug.
Can Heroin Cause Brain Damage ?
While heroin use impacts other areas of the body, it most notably impacts the brain. When used, heroin enters the brain very quickly and binds to the opioid receptors. These receptors control heart rate, breathing, and sleeping, as well as feelings including pain and pleasure.
Heroin also impacts the risk/reward system of the brain, which, in turn, causes a decrease in serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters that are produced. Disrupted levels of neurotransmitters can cause mood swings, depression, and anxiety.
Since heroin causes the brain to artificially release neurotransmitters, addicts experience withdrawal symptoms if they’re unable to take heroin when the brain needs it. Withdrawal causes flu-like symptoms, including chills, body aches, fatigue, nausea, and even depression.
According to studies, heroin use causes brain damage that’s often only seen in Alzheimer’s patients . Because heroin changes the natural structure of the brain’s reward system, the brain’s function is impacted.
Heroin addicts also risk further brain damage because of the lack of oxygen. The drug causes depressed breathing, which means less blood is moved throughout the body. A lack of oxygen in the brain can cause brain damage, as well as damage to other vital organs.
Studies continue to be conducted to better understand the long-term effects of heroin addiction. While heroin abuse does damage the brain, some of this damage may be reversible, but, at the least, the damage and its impact can be managed. In fact, most people who overcome heroin addiction are able to lead full and healthy lives.
To prevent serious brain damage, if you or someone you know suffers from heroin addiction, seek help immediately. Finding a local detox center is the best chance for you or a loved one to break free from the chains of addiction.
How to Help Someone with Heroin Addiction
If someone you know is battling an addiction to heroin, it’s hard to know how to address the issue, let alone help your loved one. More often than not, addicts want to stop using but don’t know how to stop. More importantly, many don’t want to experience withdrawal symptoms.
One of the best things you can do is to learn everything you can about heroin so that you can better understand what your loved one is facing. Understand the heroin health effects, as well as how you can help your loved one get the treatment they need.
Addiction is an uphill and life-long battle, but, with the right support system, the disease can be overcome.
The next step is to look for detox centers in the area. A reputable detox facility is the safest place for your loved one to be during their battle to end addiction and reach sobriety. Encouraging your loved one to quit cold turkey may seem like a good idea, but most addicts who quit a hard drug like heroin on their own often relapse. It’s best to seek professional help from a detox facility that is experienced in helping those with heroin addiction.
Since the road to recovery can be long and sometimes bumpy, it’s crucial that you’re available to support your friends or family members throughout their journeys. Give them the courage and confidence that they need to get through this rough patch. Be a listening ear on those tough days when the voices of addiction creep back into the picture.
Knowing that someone you love is dealing with addiction is tough, but getting them to go to treatment for detox is even harder. Some families stage an intervention, while others wait until their loved ones are ready to put an end to their addictions. Since it’s hard to force people to want to end their bad habits, the best thing you can do is to talk to your loved ones, express your concern, and open doors that allow them to get the treatment they need.
Addiction Doesn’t Have to Control Your Life
There are dozens of South Florida detox centers, but, if you’re looking for a facility that will help you or a loved one regain control and get on the road to recovery, look no further than South Florida Detox Center.
We offer an outpatient detox program as well as Suboxone treatment that minimizes the withdrawal symptoms that your loved one will experience. We work with each of our clients and their doctors to ensure the best detox program is used.
Don’t go another day under the influence of heroin addiction. With the right detox treatment and support system, you, too, can be on the road to recovery. Call us today at (561) 337-6842 to schedule a low-cost visit.
It requires a great deal of courage and strength to face up to a drug abuse problem. While you cannot do all the hard work for a friend or loved one, you can be the catalyst for positive change and enable those you care about to find the right help at the right time.
If you are wondering how to help someone with a heroin addiction , or a person abusing other substances, your awareness and support is the most valuable thing you can offer. If you suspect that your friend or family member needs help, or are just wondering how you would know they had reached a dangerous point of substance abuse, these lists will guide you.
The fact that you are looking for answers shows your caring level of concern.
How Will You Know If a Friend Needs Help with Addiction?
Without a concerned support system many individuals struggle with detox symptoms on their own. Research indicates that for a single year studied, of an estimated 22.7 million people who needed help with addiction only 2.5 million received treatment in a specialized program. This means that 20.2 million went untreated. 1
Is it time to intervene? How do you help someone struggling with addictive drugs? You can start by becoming aware of the physical, behavioral, and psychological signs of heroin abuse and other substance addiction.
- Being evasive, secretive, and being caught in lies frequently. Hiding drug use and purchases requires the user to begin lying to those around them.
- Loses interest in hobbies, passions, or activities they once enjoyed. Addictive substances flatten out the emotional response to other experiences, also there may not be enough time to pursue both things.
- Drastically changes appearance and general attitude, or has severe mood swings. This may be due to new (drug-using) peer group, or the effects of short term withdrawal.
- Travels alone to unusual places at odd hours. They may offer evasive responses when asked where they are going or why, and they won’t want you to come along.
- Starts stealing from friends, family, or workplace to support their drug use. This behavior from a previously honest and trustworthy friend can be a shocking sign. The pain of un-medicated withdrawal causes this desperate behavior.
- Fails to meet commitments, which might be related to memory loss or blackouts. As addiction grows, not only does the drug eclipse the importance of other responsibilities, the user may lose time or not be able to remember where they were.
- Has unexplained changes in sleep or energy level. Might be hyperactive, talk too much, or fall asleep suddenly. As drug levels rise and fall, there may be manic bursts of energy and subsequent crashes.
- Sudden weight changes can be caused by stimulants, or by not eating while under the influence of opiates. Inactivity while under the influence may also cause weight gain.
- Unexplained bruises or marks, needle marks on arms, legs or bottoms of the feet. Bruises may be caused by stumbling or falling. Needle marks tell their own tale.
- Glazed or red eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual, or a persistent blank stare. Most addictive substances affect pupil size and the eyes give a good indication of awareness.
- Nausea, vomiting, or excessive sweating, cold, sweaty palms or shaking hands can be signs of opiate detox, withdrawal from alcohol, or any physically addictive substance.
- Puffy face, blushing or paleness. Changes in blood pressure cause these intermittent effects. In combination with other symptoms, these might be significant.
- Runny nose, hacking cough, unusual nose bleeds. Any substance that is sniffed or inhaled can cause these types of reactions.
- Unusual odors. You may not recognize what it is, but metabolism changes can cause noticeable changes in someone’s body odors. Also, the fumes of other substances may cling to clothes or skin.
- Develops a visible tolerance or increases dosages. You may notice this in prescription drug addiction if you have visibility to pill bottles. It can be very difficult to reverse this trend and return to normal dosages.
- Becomes preoccupied with maintaining a steady supply, or becomes angry or violent when the supply runs out or they miss a dose. This reaction makes clear that the drug is taking over their normal personality.
- Sells personal property or has items repossessed. Pawns or sells things of personal value to catch up on bills or to buy drugs. Their home may become noticeably empty, or they may part with collections or family heirlooms.
- Legal problems arise in the form of a DUI, possession arrest, or they might be caught stealing. They may be required to seek treatment as a result, or offered the option.
- Job loss occurs due to poor performance, being late, etc. They may change jobs frequently because it is too difficult to keep to a schedule consistently.
- School or family are concerned about the possibility of child neglect. As a person is taken over by their addiction, they may not be able to properly care for children. If there is any concern about this, immediate help is needed.
- Indicates that they want to reduce or stop using drugs, but they do not make progress on their own. They may be struggling with withdrawal without medical help and guidance. Users in this stage can immediately benefit from a medication based detox program.
- Is aware of the negative impacts on their health and those around them, but continues to use the drug. If they are ready to discuss the negatives, they may be getting ready to begin recovery.
- Voluntarily discusses detox or rehab but does not follow up with any actions, or jokes about needing a program. They may be testing the waters to see if you agree they need help. They want to know you will be supportive and accepting. This is a great time to offer resources and information.
Why Is It so Difficult for Those We Love to Quit?
Continuous or repeated abuse of drugs causes changes in the brain. Self-control centers within the brain are inhibited or damaged, which shows up in brain scans of those in the grip of addiction. 2 Wanting to change is essential to recovery, but it is usually not enough on it’s own.
Finding the right opiate detox center in Florida might require a little help from a friend. There are both inpatient and outpatient detox options to consider. Doing some research and being ready to offer information to your loved one is empowering for both of you.
If you get initial pushback, that’s okay. Continue to provide emotional support and information as your friend’s recognition of their problem grows.
Where to Find Help for Friends and Family
There are a number of detox centers in south Florida that provide different environments that support recovery. Outpatient options may be the right starting place, allowing your loved one to get the guidance and medical support needed to deal with heroin detox symptoms or other types of withdrawal, while still maintaining a normal life and keeping up with commitments.
At South Florida Detox Centers outpatient programs can be customized to fit the patient. Our team will meet with and assess your friend to develop the right combination of therapies and medications to alleviate symptoms. The detox certified physician will discuss the options of outpatient detox, opiate detox, and Suboxone™ treatment. This custom treatment plan will ease the detoxification process and control withdrawal symptoms.
With you by their side and willing to help them recognize their needs and pursue treatment, your friend or loved one can win the battle against addiction, find new hope, and create a healthy life. If these symptoms are taking over the personality of someone you care about, c ontact us . Recovery is within reach, with devoted friends like you and expert outpatient detox treatment nearby.
Research data collected from recently published reports by the CDC (Centers of Disease Control and Prevention) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute on Drug Abuse demonstrate heroin usage has increased significantly over the past decade. According to CBS News report from June 23, 2016, then-President Obama asked Congress for $1.1 billion in funding to address the epidemic. 1
Part of the problem for the heroin epidemic, which is supported by the collected data, is that prescription painkiller drug use has also increased. Prescription pain medications, such as Vicodin® and OxyContin®, mimic the effects of heroin. It is not uncommon for someone to become addicted to prescription painkillers first, and then transition to heroin later.
In fact, according to the NIH, close to 80% of heroin addicts in the United States, including those currently seeking treatment, have reported to first using and abusing prescription painkillers. 2 This is a change in previous trends from several decades ago. During that time, it was more common for people to use and abuse heroin first, and then move on to prescription painkillers.
The reason things have changed can be contributed to the ease of access to prescription opioids in the 1990s and early 2000s. At that time, there was no centralized tracking of prescription data. It was easy for a person to see multiple physicians and obtain multiple prescriptions for painkillers. For heroin addicts, it was easier to get a neverending supply of opioid drugs than to find a reliable source of heroin to support their habit.
However, with changes in regulations and stricter controls on the dispensing of prescription opioids, this is no longer the case. As it has become more difficult to obtain regular supplies of prescription painkillers, addicts have now turned to heroin use to fuel their addictions.
Why Is Heroin So Addictive?
Heroin is in a class of opioid drugs that are made from the seed pods found on opium poppy plants. For prescription drug abusers, taking heroin provides similar effects to opioid pain relievers. It is fast-acting, and it quickly binds to receptors in the brain and other areas of the body. It tends to reduce feelings of pain while enhancing feelings of pleasure.
The euphoric state one achieves from taking heroin is highly addictive. So much so, it only requires a person to try heroin once to be hooked on this drug. However, you need to realize that this euphoric state is just one possible outcome from using heroin. Not everyone has a pleasurable experience.
Some short-term side effects of using heroin could include: 2
- Drifting Between Conscious and Unconscious States
- Dry Mouth
- Itchy Skin
- Reduced Mental Functioning
- Heavy Feeling in the Arms and Legs
- Warm Sensations of the Skin
Long-term heroin use side effects not only include becoming addicted to the drug, but also: 2
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Kidney and Liver Disease
- Irregular Menstrual Cycles
- Heart Lining and Heart Valve Infections
- Skin Abscesses
- Stomach Cramping
- Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Tissue Damage
- Collapsed Veins
- Lung Infections
- Accidental Overdose
Facts and Statistics
According to the CDC, from 2002 through 2013, past year usage, past monthly usage, and addiction to heroin have increased the most in the 18-to-25-year-old age group. 3 In addition, out of all new users, 75% reported having previously abused prescription painkillers before switching to heroin.
Data collected by the CDC of those who previously abused prescription drugs or other substances is illustrated in the following chart:
It is clear to see, for the period from 2011 to 2013, the significant increase in prescription opioid abuse grew and has now become more prevalent than alcohol abuse, prior to abusing heroin. In some cases, addicts will continue to abuse the other substance along with using heroin. Data collected by the CDC about prior substance abuse shows: 4
- 56.8% of heroin users report past-month binge drinking.
- 97.4% of heroin users reported using other psychotherapeutic drugs for nonmedical purposes over the past year.
- 45.7% reported having used marijuana within the past year.
- 138.2% of new heroin users reported having taken and used prescription opioid pain relievers for nonmedical purposes over the past year.
- 87.1% reported having used cocaine during the past year.
According to the CDC, other facts and statistics collected include: 3,4
- The rate of heroin-related overdoses resulting in deaths increased by a factor of 5 from 2010 to 2016.
- In 2016, more than 15,469 people died of heroin overdoses.
- The number of deaths increased the largest for synthetic opioids from 2015 to 2016.
- In 2016, 19,413 people died from synthetic opioids compared to 9,580 in 2015.
- Fentanyl is the top synthetic opioid.
- Fentanyl can be mixed with heroin or cocaine without the drug addict’s knowledge.
- Possible contributors to the heroin epidemic include improved purity, decreased prices, and increased access.
- There was a 108.6% increase in heroin usage from 2002 to 2013 in 18-to-25-year-olds.
- There was an increase of 114.3% for the non-Hispanic white (Caucasian) race segment.
- The biggest increase in abusers came from the middle-income class earning between $20,000 and $49,999 annually, with a 76.9% increase.
- Usage by females increased 100% from 2002 to 2013.
- Usage by males increased 50% from 2002 to 2013.
- Overall heroin usage rose from 2002 to 2013 by 62.5%.
- Overall heroin dependence and abuse rose from 2002 to 2013 by 90%.
The CDC also found that heroin usage is often part of a larger substance abuse and addiction problem. According to research data, people who are addicted to: 5
- Alcohol are two times more likely to become addicted to heroin.
- Marijuana are three times more likely to become addicted to heroin.
- Cocaine are fifteen times more likely to become addicted to heroin.
- Prescription opioid painkillers are forty times more likely to become addicted to heroin.
As evident from the research data, statistics, and facts about heroin usage, it is now a major epidemic in the United States that affects everyone, regardless of income and race.
How to Help Someone with a Heroin Addiction
It is important to remember that you cannot force someone with a heroin addiction to seek treatment. However, that does not mean you cannot help them. Often, friends and family members of a heroin addict do not fully understand the effects this drug has on the body and brain.
Far too often, friends and family members will simply demand that the addict stops using heroin, yet taking this approach rarely delivers the desired results. Instead, addicts will respond by hiding their heroin abuse and/or starting to push those closest to them away. Essentially, heroin will become more important than the addict’s friends and family.
Rather, a better place to start is to take the time to educate oneself about heroin health effects on the body and brain . Taking this approach will be more beneficial for you and your family in the long run. In addition, if necessary, you can seek help for staging an intervention from heroin addiction experts like us at South Florida Detox Center or a qualified facility in your area.
The key objective of a staged invention overseen by a professional is to help guide the addict and their friends and family to address the problem. The goal is to bring to light the addiction and increase awareness about how it is affecting those around the addict. Ultimately, it is hopeful the intervention will get the addicts to admit they have a problem.
Once the addicts admit they have a problem, then they will be more receptive to coming to terms with the fact they need help. Again, it is important to stress for you to avoid pushing addicts into a treatment program. They must make a conscious decision themselves that they want to stop and are ready to take the first steps on the path to recovery.
If you want to learn more about the signs of heroin use and what you can do to help a loved one with a heroin or opioid drug addiction, or are a heroin or prescription drug addict ready to being rehab, please feel free to contact South Florida Detox Center at (772) 675-6350 today! We have detox centers located in Broward, Palm Beach, and the Treasure Coast.
Opiate addiction, from prescription drug abuse to heroin addiction, is rampant in the U.S. Many people point to over-prescription of medications as a contributing factor, but what makes one person develop an opiate addiction when another does not? Understanding the things that contributed to your drug dependence in West Palm Beach is an important part of your recovery. By knowing your risk factors, you can reduce your chances of relapsing in the future. Here is a closer look at some of the factors that increase the risk of developing an opiate addiction.
Most researchers believe that there is a genetic component to addiction. If you have a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, who has a history of addiction, then you could have a higher risk of developing an opiate addiction yourself. Not everyone with a family history of addiction will develop one, but having this history does indicate that you could be more susceptible to addictive behaviors.
Being exposed to opiate addiction may make it more likely that you will engage in it. This can include growing up in a home that was chaotic because of addiction or having a circle of friends who abuse prescription drugs or heroin. When these conditions are part of your environment, opiate addiction can take on a normality that makes you more likely to take on those same behaviors. If your family history already makes you vulnerable to addiction and you see it play out in front of you repeatedly, you are even more likely to develop a drug dependency.
Biology and Psychology
Physical and mental illness can also contribute to addiction. Experts believe that some people who develop a drug dependence are born without a sufficient amount of endorphins, neurotransmitters that create feelings of well-being. These people may abuse opiates to achieve those feelings of well-being that are not being created by the usual biological pathways. Mental illnesses, including anxiety and depression, frequently accompany drug abuse and must be treated to effectively treat the addiction. Having a condition that causes chronic pain may also lead to opiate abuse.
If you are worried that you may have an opiate addiction near West Palm Beach, it’s important to know the symptoms of this form of drug dependence . Opiates are a class of drug that are typically prescribed for pain relief. These medications give people a feeling of euphoria, which encourages the addiction.
Watch this video to understand more about opiate addiction. Over time, people develop a tolerance to the opiates and need to take more of them to continue experiencing the euphoric effect. Merely the threat of not being able to continue taking the drug can cause an addicted person to experience opiate withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, profound psychological distress, and anxiety.
Are you considering treating your opiate drug dependence with Suboxone in West Palm Beach? Introduced to the United States in 2003, Suboxone is similar to opiates and can ease severe withdrawal effects, but will not fully bind to receptors to produce the feeling of euphoria. During your detox process, Suboxone treatment will be used for the first 24-48 hours to relieve any discomfort, and your dosage will then taper off according to a timeline created for your recovery process.
When taken properly, Suboxone should not cause addiction, and we work together with you through the recovery process to help you wean off of the Suboxone. After your treatment, joining a support group and learning how to avoid high-risk situations can help you remain opiate-free.
The doctors at South Florida Detox Center have more than 10 years of experience helping people through the detoxification process. Our compassionate professionals are dedicated to your successful recovery and will work with you to create a customized plan to address your individual needs. Our confidential and discreet detox programs can help you heal with minimal disruption to your daily life.
If you are planning to begin drug detox near West Palm Beach, your recovery could depend on seeking the right help. It’s common for people dealing with a drug dependence or addiction to feel shame or a sense of responsibility that makes them want to recover on their own. Detoxing is not a simple process, and dealing with drug dependence alone is dangerous and often unsuccessful.
Alcohol is considered to be the most dangerous drug to detox from. When heavy drinkers stop imbibing, they can experience a severe withdrawal symptom known as delirium tremens (DTS). DTS usually begins two to five days after an alcoholic’s last drink and can cause hallucinations, convulsions, confusion, and high blood pressure. For this reason, it’s vital that alcoholics seek professional help and never attempt to detox alone.
Detoxing from meth doesn’t involve many physical withdrawal symptoms. However, self-detox from meth is still dangerous because of the psychological withdrawal symptoms which can include paranoia, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, aggression, and severe depression. It’s uncommon for meth addicts to self-detox successfully, and inpatient treatment is typically the best way for them to recover.
Heroin is one of the most popular substances that people abuse and become dependent on, and it’s also one of the most addictive drugs in the world. It is one of the most difficult drugs to detox from your system, and self-detox attempts usually end in failure. It’s also dangerous to suddenly stop using heroin, and the withdrawal symptoms can be both agonizing and unsafe. These symptoms typically begin twelve hours after the last time a person uses heroin and can include vomiting, nausea, insomnia, diarrhea, abdominal pain, chills, anxiety, and weakness.
Most people will need to take medications for muscle pain, diarrhea, and vomiting when they begin to detox. Talk to your friends, family, or doctor about your addiction and attend formal detox and addiction treatment to increase your chances of a safe recovery.
If someone you know has been prescribed an opiate medication or has a history of drug dependence in West Palm Beach, it’s vital for their well-being that you can recognize the symptoms of opiate addiction. Morphine and codeine are the two natural, pain-relieving products created from opium, and their euphoric effect can result in addictions and drug dependence .
Among the most common reasons for people to seek a doctor’s help is to find pain relief. Opioids, also called narcotics or opiates, are pain relievers that are produced from opium. Synthetic and imitation forms of morphine and codeine include heroin, fentanyl, hydrocodone, methadone, oxycodone, and meperidine.
Risks of Opioids
When taken appropriately and only to treat pain, opioids are unlikely to cause addiction. Because of the intoxicating high that opiates create, whether injected or ingested, dependence becomes likely when they are taken in high doses. Opioids are also powerful anxiety relievers and these potent effects make narcotics one of the most common types of drugs abused in the United States.
Drug Abuse, Dependence, or Addiction
These terms mean the same thing to many people, but doctors have specific definitions for drug abuse, dependence, and addiction. Drug abuse occurs when a person deliberately uses a drug other than how it is prescribed. Once a person’s body develops a tolerance to the effects of a drug and will also suffer withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking the drug, they have developed a drug dependence. If a person experiences psychological effects, such as a compulsion to get the drug, in addition to a drug dependence, they are considered to have a drug addiction.
Symptoms of Opioid Dependence
Symptoms of narcotic abuse can include euphoria, analgesia, small pupils, slurred speech, and confusion. They may also experience nausea, vomiting, constipation, flushed skin, and slow or shallow breathing. Once a person develops a tolerance to an opiate, they will have withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking the drug, which can include anxiety, vomiting, sweating, and rapid breathing.
- Heroin Abuse
- Heroin Addiction
- Drug dependence.
- drug addiction
- Drug Treatment
- Heroin Withdrawl
- opiate detox
- Heroin Detox
- drug detox
- substance abuse treatment
- Opioid Addiction
- opiate drug dependence
- Suboxone Treatment
- Suboxone 101
- Opiate Addiction
- South Florida Detox Center