Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that more than 28% of all opioid-related deaths in 2019 involved heroin. Despite ongoing attempts to reduce the amount of heroin “on the streets,” heroin remains easy to obtain and plentiful in many communities. Many people turn to heroin after developing an addiction to prescription pain killers. Because the effects of heroin are similar to those of prescription opioids, heroin is viewed as an alternative to prescription drugs when prescriptions run out. Research has shown that about 6% of those who misuse prescription drugs eventually switch to heroin—as many as 80% of those who struggle with a heroin addiction first misused prescription opioids.


Without help from a treatment center to overcome heroin addiction, dangerous and potentially fatal outcomes can result.


What is Heroin?

Heroin is an opioid drug manufactured from morphine. Although heroin is made from a naturally occurring substance, the seed pod of the opium poppy plants grown in Asia, Mexico, and Columbia, it is not a natural opioid. Heroin is manufactured using natural ingredients. However, it is an illegal substance.


Depending on the manufacturing process, heroin appears as a white powder, brown powder, or black sticky substance called black tar heroin. It is not uncommon to hear heroin referred to by other names. Some of the most common are hell dust and smack. There are several ways to “take” heroin. While the most widely used method is through injection, it can also be smoked, inhaled through the nose, snorted, or smoked. Some people engage in a practice called speedballing. This is done by combining heroin and crack cocaine to create a more potent and far more dangerous drug.


Why is Heroin So Addictive?

The effects of heroin on the body occur rapidly. When heroin enters your system, it binds to specific receptors on the brain, spinal column, and throughout the body. These receptors, called opioid receptors, are responsible for sensing and transmitting feelings of pain and pleasure. Using heroin leads to a rush of specific chemicals in the body and brain that lead to a sense of euphoria or the “high” people often seek when using substances like heroin. Under “normal” circumstances, a similar rush results from everyday activities like exercise, eating, or other activities that lead to happiness. Once a heroin addiction develops, it becomes more and more challenging to achieve these feelings without using.


The same neurotransmitters that cause someone to get high when using heroin also affect the function of several vital body functions, including heart rate and breathing. They also affect sleeping patterns. These impacts are part of why heroin use affects breathing, heart function, and one’s ability to sleep. They also explain why many deaths from heroin overdose result from respiratory failure or a fatal cardiac event.


What are the Signs of Heroin Withdrawal?

The signs of heroin withdrawal will be different from person to person. Factors including how long you have been using, if you use other substances in addition to heroin, how often you use, and whether you have an underlying mental health or physical health condition all contribute to your unique withdrawal experience. Regardless of the intensity of your withdrawal symptoms, however, it is vital to mention that detox and withdrawal from heroin can be dangerous and requires careful and comprehensive monitoring at a professional heroin rehab.


In most cases, the first symptoms of heroin withdrawal begin within a matter of hours after your last dose. For some people, acute withdrawal symptoms start in approximately six hours; however, it may take up to twenty-four hours for others. The timing for the onset of symptoms depends on many of the factors listed above.


Peak (or the most intense and severe) withdrawal symptoms occur during the first 72 hours after your last dose. During this time, detox symptoms are typically difficult and challenging to manage without medical and mental health support. Acute symptoms of heroin withdrawal generally subside within one to two weeks; however, some long-term symptoms may persist for months or years after detox.


Finding Heroin Detox Programs in Los Angeles, CA

Overcoming an addiction to heroin is not easy, but you can achieve sobriety with help from our southern California detox center. Our caring and compassionate treatment team are here to ensure you have the support and tools you need to put heroin addiction in the past. Let us help you as you progress through detox and the therapeutic process at our heroin addiction treatment program. To learn more about our programs, contact a member of our admissions team today.

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