Heroin Addiction and Recovery

Heroin carries some of the highest risks of disease, long-term damage, and death. Whether you or a family member is the one dealing with this chronic substance abuse disorder, the chances are you’re exhausted and confused. Drug dependence causes turmoil for the individual with the problem, as well as a great deal of worry for the people who are closest to them. The cyclical nature of addiction can make you feel there’s no way out. But, Rest assured, substance abuse disorders can be treated and overcome. Here, we hope you’ll find some of the most helpful information to this deadly addiction, so your recovery journey can begin.

If you or a loved one are addicted to heroin and need help please call 844-254-9664.

Signs of Heroin Use and Physical Symptoms

Heroin is an opioid naturally made from the poppy plant. As a highly addictive, schedule one substance doctors would argue that there is no recreational or casual way to use it. What can happen with heroin abuse and addiction, however, is the user becomes highly adept at hiding their affliction. 

Although a stigma surrounds the use of heroin, the truth is that this drug addiction can strike any person from any background. The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports over 800,000 Americans using heroin in the past year, that’s higher than the entire population of Washington DC.  Recognizing the signs and symptoms of heroin use is the first step to making the change that could give you your future back. We’ve listed some of the most telling physical and behavioral effects to watch out for.

Heroin Addiction Symptoms

  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Blue fingernails or lips
  • Constipation
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Labored breathing
  • Track marks/needle marks
  • Itching
  • Chills
  • Anxiety

Heroin Use Behavior

  • Slow cognition
  • Lack of coordination
  • Mood swings
  • Nervously covering parts of the body
  • Changes in friendship groups
  • Destructive behavior
  • Loss of social circle in favor of other drug users
  • Compulsive drug use to prevent withdrawal
  • Failure to meet commitments at work, school or home
  • Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Financial issues such as debt and theft

The long-term effects of heroin addiction ultimately attack the brain’s physiology, causing lasting chemical and hormonal imbalances that can severely impact mental health and be a challenge to reverse. The sooner addiction treatment is sought, the better. 

Heroin Paraphernalia 

  • Syringes
  • Metal spoons
  • Bottle caps
  • Cans
  • Tinfoil
  • Lighters
  • Pipes
  • Razor blades
  • Glass trays or mirrors
  • Hollowed-out pen cases
  • Cut-up drinking straws

Along with physical and behavioral signs, it’s also valuable to recognize the tools or ‘drug paraphernalia’ that heroin users may keep nearby. Metal spoons and bottle caps are used to transform powdered heroin into a liquid for shooting or smoking. Water is mixed with the white or brown-ish substance than ‘cooked’ using a lighter to heat the metal. 

Small wax paper or foil squares serve as containers to transport the powdered form of heroin. Razor blades are then used to “cut” heroin powder into lines on a glass surface for easy consumption. Straws, empty pen sleeves and rolled dollar bills are used to snort the heroin off the surface.

Heroin Withdrawal

As heroin use continues the body rapidly builds up a tolerance to the drug, driving the user to try to recapture the high they first experienced. These actions can include using more frequently, using a higher quantity, combining drugs or changing how they consume the drug. Someone who once thought they would never be desperate enough to resort to needles can easily find their reservations overcome by the desperate cravings and painful withdrawal symptoms.

Heroin withdrawal symptoms

  • Flu-like symptoms (fever, runny nose, chills)
  • Tremors
  • Profuse sweating
  • Loose stool (diarrhea)
  • Severe muscle cramping
  • Intense body aches
  • Vomiting
  • Sleeplessness
  • Mood swings

Heroin withdrawal timeline

The timeline for dealing with drug abuse withdrawal symptoms (specific to heroin) varies based on the individual and their usage history but generally plays out within one week. 

  • Day 1: Withdrawal symptoms are visibly present 7-10 hours after the last dose of heroin.
  • Days 1-3: The drug withdrawal cycle peaks during this time. 
  • Days 5-7: The worst of the withdrawal is over and symptoms begin to taper.

Treatment for Heroin Abuse at Calusa Recovery Center for Men

Anyone struggling with this condition should seek care in a clinic that’s equipped with the necessary resources and expertise to treat opioid addictions like Heroin and the other occurring disorders that often accompany it. Effective treatment for heroin abuse may include detox, followed by outpatient rehab. Individual and group therapy will ensure the user has a host of tools and coping mechanisms to avoid relapse, as well as an increased understanding of the triggers that have caused the addiction in the first place.

If you are addicted to heroin or love someone who is, Calusa Recovery’s heroin treatment center in Fort Myers, Florida gives you a homelike environment where you receive individually tailored treatment and learn the vital skills needed for long-term recovery. When you’re ready to seek help, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team of men’s addiction experts at 844-254-9664.