Heroin is an opioid substance that is made from morphine, which is derived from the seed from an opium plant. The opium plant is typically grown in Southeast and Southwest Asia, Mexico, and Colombia. It is usually in the form of a brown or white powder that is “cut” with sugars, starch, powdered milk, or quinine but can also be a black, sticky material known as “black tar heroin.”
Other names that refer to heroin include:
There are currently over 2 million heroin users in the United States today. “Not only are people using heroin, they are also using multiple other substances, including cocaine and prescription opioids. Nearly all people who use heroin also use at least 1 other drug.”
Heroin that is highly pure can be snorted or smoked, which is often more appealing than other forms that would need to be injected. Impure heroin is typically broken down and dissolved, then injected into the skin, veins, or muscles.
There are some clear signs or indicators that a person has been using heroin. These signs can include:
Using drugs continuously for a long period of time can cause many ill health effects and take a toll on the body. Injecting the drug frequently can cause infections of the blood vessels and heart valves, along with collapsed veins. Due to general poor condition of the body, tuberculosis can occur.
People who share drug paraphernalia are more likely to suffer from bloodborne pathogens such as HIV and Hepatitis C and abscesses.
Heroin can be one of the most dangerous drugs on the streets, along with having some extreme effects on someone’s body. If used frequently or in high amounts, overdose from heroin is possible.
“According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2016 about 948,000 Americans reported using heroin in the past year, that number that has been on the rise since 2007. This trend appears to be driven largely by young adults aged 18–25 among whom there have been the greatest increases.”
Overdosing from heroin can be extremely dangerous and life-threatening. How severe the overdose will be is dependent on the purity of the heroin being used, the individuals age and weight and if other substances are being used along with heroin.
Typically, someone who uses heroin will have it in their system for at least two days and will be detectable with a drug test. Although, there are some drug tests that have been known to detect it for up to a week in someone’s system. Because heroin has a short half-life, it is not usually detected in saliva or blood because it will exit the system within 5-6 hours.
The most sensitive drug test for heroin is through a hair follicle test. It is possible to detect heroin for up to three months in someone’s system. It’s also important to note that for long-time heroin users, it can be detected for much longer in their systems.
The factors that influence how long it will be in your system include:
Heroin can be highly addictive due to its’ euphoric effects and dependence it causes upon using it.
“People who regularly use heroin often develop a tolerance, which means that they need higher and/or more frequent doses of the drug to get the desired effects.”
People who use heroin often and become addicted have a higher chance of engaging in reckless or dangerous behavior. They are also more likely to induce self-harm or commit suicide. When a person experiences a withdrawal from heroin, it can cause them to go into a deep depression, and this is sometimes enough for the person to commit suicide.
It is possible to recover from a drug addiction problem. With the proper support team or treatment center a person can become sober and maintain a lifestyle that remains free from drugs. A variety of treatment options are available to treat heroin addiction that include behavioral approaches and drug replacement therapies.
Drug Replacement Therapy– Using physician prescribed replacement drugs such as Suboxone, Methadone and Morphine derivatives instead of the “street drug” as a daily alternative to help the person come clean from using.
Complete Detoxification– Detoxification, or getting rid of the substance from your body, can happen in either a residential or medical facility. This is the most ideal scenario for someone who wants to live a one hundred percent clean and sober lifestyle.
Residential Treatment Center– A person who chooses complete abstinence from drugs will have the most success in a residential treatment center for at least 30-90 days.
12-Step Programs- These help programs are offered at no cost to the individual such as Narcotics Anonymous.
People can remain drug free if they find the right program that will meet their needs. Every individual is different and is experiencing different circumstances. If they are confident about getting clean from drugs and work hard at their sobriety, it is possible for them to recover.
Narcotics Anonymous or NA refers to a fellowship that meets regularly to help each other stay clean. It is program that stays completely abstinent from all drugs. The 12-step program is a positive program that has tools to make recovery possible.
“In N.A., we follow a program adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous. More than one million people have recovered in A.A., most of them just as hopelessly addicted to alcohol as we were to drugs. We are grateful to the A.A Fellowship for showing us the way to a new life.” -INTRODUCTION NA Basic Text -pg xv
“We Believe that as a fellowship, we have been guided by a Greater Consciousness, and are grateful for the direction that has enabled us to build upon a proven program of recovery.” -INTRODUCTION NA Basic Text -pg xv
If you or someone you know is suffering from a drug addiction problem, it’s important to get help right away. There are treatment options available near you that can help with the symptoms associated with a drug addiction problem.