Heroin addiction can come with a lot of shame. That’s because for many years it was associated with homeless people. We called them “junkies”. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. We are getting lots of calls from heroin addicts and many are young, smart and attractive. It’s a really difficult drug to kick, so put down your fear of being judged and get some help. If you have a loved one that might be using heroin, don’t hold back from asking them direct questions.

If your Loved One is Using Heroin

People who suffer from addiction are frequently not honest about their substance abuse. That’s actually an understatement –people who use drugs lie almost every time they open their mouth. It’s a common symptom of the disease.  So when it comes to drug use, speak directly about the problem. Confronting someone about their heroin addiction could be a life-saving talk. In fact, in order to discover the truth and really understand the problem, you may need to be a bit nosey. Learn to identify the signs of heroin addiction   …. this can lead to the first step towards recovery.

Breaking down Heroin – Opiates

Heroin (opiates) mimic substances that are already in our brain called endorphins. They help to decrease anxiety and depression. They also can reduce pain and minor injuries. Heroin (opiates) also take credit for you not noticing you sliced your finger until you look directly at it. Medical variants of heroin are safely used to deal with pain. When the drug is used correctly, it can be very helpful.  Medication like this should help with pain, not make you feel “high”. When you have a surgery a stronger dose of opiates are needed.

Here are a few forms of opiates are as follows:

  • Oxycontin (oxycodone)
  • Vicodin (hydrocodone/acetaminophen)
  • Dilaudid (hydromorphone)
  • Morphine
  • Methadone
  • Codeine
  • Heroin

Don’t get confused, I use the words Heroin and Opiates interchangeably. This is for two reasons. One, because it’s common for people to switch to heroin when they can’t get a “legal” prescription. Two, it’s common for drug addicts to convince you that they are taking a medication that is legally prescribed.  In the end, it doesn’t make a difference when you land at the same stage of addiction.

How does opiate addiction happen?

Typically an addiction to opiates begins when you take the medication for pain relief. However, over a certain amount of time you may need to up the dosage to get the same effect. The time it takes to become addicted varies with each person. It’s difficult to tell how long or how much it can take for someone to become an opiate addict. Most people aren’t even aware they have become addicted until they finish treatment and are either taken off the drug by their doctors or have run out.

What happens if you quit using opiates?

If you’re addicted to opiates, whether you are aware or not, and stop using you will experience symptoms within the first 24 hours that can be mistaken as the flu.

What symptoms should you expect when experiencing withdrawal?

Many powerful pain medications are made from the same substance as Heroin.

In the first 24 hours you are going to feel extremely uncomfortable:

  • Muscle pain
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating (hot and cold)
  • Insomnia
  • Yawning often
  • Rage Agitation

After about 24 hours:

  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping
  • Vomiting
  • Blurry vision
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • High blood pressure

Symptoms will come and go for days and can last up to two years.  Former addicts who are not prepared for this are going to want to go back and use the drug. With a treatment program in place, this can easily be dealt with.

Long-term withdrawal symptoms are as follows:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping
  • No enthusiasm
  • Tired all the time
  • Sad or depressed

When you get help in a treatment center — they will provide a long-term plan to help with the problems.  Treatment is ongoing and not easy. But many people are doing it ….. every day.

Getting Help for an Addiction

If you’re addicted to heroin and need help, reach out to a loved one or a doctor you can trust. They can help you find treatment facilities, medical help, and addiction experts who can help you get clean.

The first step to getting better is admitting you have a problem. Kicking your habit may not happen the first time you try it. Some people require multiple attempts before it finally lasts. However, determination and dedication can go a long way to helping you—and the people you love—heal and move toward a happier, healthier life.

Addiction Information for people who suspect heroin use, in a loved one.

Understanding the devices a person needs to use the drug and what it actually looks like can help you identify heroin use. In most cases, a heroin user needs certain paraphernalia items in order to actually consume the drug. Heroin can be injected, snorted, or smoked. Needles, pipes, and spoons with lighters are often used. Damaged veins are difficult to inject, so some addicts need to use rubber tubing or elastic bands to make their veins larger.

What does it look like?

Heroin itself is a powdery, crumbly substance. It’s often off-white, but its color can range from white to dark brown. Black tar heroin gets its name from the way it looks. This type is a black, sticky substance.

Lifestyle Changes Caused by Heroin Addiction

A heroin addiction may be hard to identify at first. Over time, however, the addiction becomes more real and all-encompassing. A person who is addicted to heroin will soon worry more about getting their next dose than almost anything else.

Heroin injections cause needle marks, so many addicts wear long-sleeve clothing year round in order to hide their scars. Fearing their addiction will be revealed, heroin addicts may become withdrawn from friends and family members. Social and personal isolation are common among addicts. Work and personal relationships may also suffer. An addict may also have trouble with health and personal hygiene.

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