Heroin, known as “H, “smack” or “horse,” comes from the seed of opium poppy plants. It can be produced in a wide variety of forms, particularly a white or brown powder. You may have also heard of a less pure form of heroin called black tar heroin, so named because it is a dark, sticky substance that resembles tar. In any case, heroin can be smoked or snorted, although many people prefer to inject it. Some people mix it with crack cocaine, a dangerous practice known as “speedballing,” which amplifies the highs of both heroin and crack.
Heroin rose in popularity in the latter half of the 20th century, but it reached a crisis point in the mid-2000s. As legal painkillers became overprescribed and easily available, opioid abuse took hold throughout the United States — leading to skyrocketing use of heroin as well. According to a study from the American Public Health Association, nearly 80 percent of people who reported trying heroin in the past year had previously abused pain medication.
At Harbor Village, our experience has borne out this crisis. We have seen and treated many clients with addictions to opiates, including prescription painkillers, fentanyl, and heroin. In fact, the advent of fentanyl as a more potent opiate has only exacerbated the crisis, causing many heroin users to overdose accidentally. Along with other opiates, heroin is a very difficult addiction to overcome. But drug rehab can help.
There are many heroin addiction symptoms, some more obvious than others. If you’re concerned your loved on is using heroin, here are a few things to look for:
When people use heroin, there is usually a powerful sense of euphoria that quickly wears off. Another dose (or “hit”) is necessary to feel the euphoria again. Other immediate side effects include nausea and vomiting, itching, dry mouth, slowed heart rate, and slipping in and out of consciousness.
Heroin purchased on the street is never the same from batch to batch. As a result, it’s almost impossible to know what it’s been cut with, and it can be adulterated by any number of dangerous and potent chemicals.
Right now, fentanyl — a synthetic opioid that is 20 to 50 times stronger than heroin — has flooded the market. Many people have purchased this substance thinking they were buying heroin, and accidentally overdosed as a result.
Overdose on opiates like heroin and fentanyl causes breathing to slow and even stop, which in turn causes a drop in oxygen. This situation is known as hypoxia, and in addition to causing brain damage, can also lead to coma and death. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioid-involved overdose deaths (including heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioids) rose from 21,088 in 2010 to 47,600 in 2017 and remained steady in 2018 with 46,802 deaths.
The treatment of addiction to heroin and other opiates has come a long way in the past few decades. While many rehab centers rely exclusively on a 12-step treatment model (which can be very effective), there are many more options from which to choose — and all of them can complement traditional approaches.
At Harbor Village, we understand it’s not enough simply to abstain from heroin — or any other harmful substance. In order to find true healing, it’s necessary to explore the causes behind the addiction, then work through them to become healthier in mind, body and spirit.
Harbor Village provides an individual recovery plan with a complete continuum of care, so we meet you right where you are on your journey. Together with our team, you’ll have the option of medical drug detox, residential rehab treatment, outpatient treatment options like our partial hospitalization program and intensive outpatient program, as well as aftercare.
Regardless of your phase of treatment, you’ll have access to evidence-based therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy for substance abuse treatment that are especially helpful in treating heroin addiction. You’ll also have a wide variety of holistic treatment options like yoga and meditation to encourage wellness in recovery.
Don’t sit by and hope that your heroin addiction will get better on its own. It will only get worse. You deserve more than to be a statistic. Reach out today, and let Harbor Village help you find a new beginning.