An opioid is a broad term for various prescription and illicit drugs. Opioids include prescription painkillers and “street drugs” such as heroin. Without Southern California addiction treatment, many with a heroin addiction succumb to overdose due to its powerful effects.
How Addictive is Heroin?
Heroin is a dangerous and highly addictive drug. Its effects on the body quickly appear, and tolerance to its effects can develop after a short period of regular use. Once tolerance occurs, they require larger or more frequent doses of heroin to achieve the “high” they remember from the first time they used. In recent years the rates of heroin use and overdose have increased dramatically. As with many substances, the rate of those seeking treatment to help conquer heroin addiction has not increased as rapidly.
In 2020, more than 13,000 people lost their lives to heroin overdose. Because prescription opioids like Vicodin and Oxycontin have similar effects on the user as heroin, research indicates that some prescription pain medications may serve as a gateway drug to heroin use. Recent studies suggest that some people who misused prescription opioids switched to heroin when they could no longer obtain opioids.
How Does Heroin Affect the Body?
Heroin can be taken into the body in various ways, including snorting, smoking, and injection. Each method produces its specific side effects and risks. When snorted, heroin creates an intense, euphoric high followed by feelings of sleepiness and deep relaxation.
Regardless of how it is used, heroin is still highly addictive, leads to significant damage to the brain and body systems, and has a high potential for overdose. Many who use heroin believe it is less addictive when snorted, but this is a dangerous misconception as heroin is no less harmful or addictive no matter the route of use.
The short-term effects of heroin use often include flushed (warm) skin, dry mouth, drowsiness, pinpoint pupils, a euphoric rush (or high), and a feeling of heaviness in your arms and legs. As the initial high wears off, most users experience reduced mental function, slowed heart rate, and reduced respiratory rate. Sometimes, their breathing rate can be slow enough to be life-threatening.
As with most drugs, chronic or regular use of heroin can lead to dangerous physical and psychological consequences. Repeated, habitual heroin use leads to structural and functional changes in the brain. These changes lead to alterations in vital body functions that can be very difficult to reverse, even with comprehensive heroin addiction treatment.
Without help from a heroin detox program, these effects will worsen over time. Some of the most common long-term effects of heroin use include nose bleeds, loss of sense of smell, kidney and liver damage, difficulties swallowing, reduced immune function, malnutrition, gastrointestinal problems, decreased cognitive function, damage to the nasal cartilage, overdose, and death.
What are the Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms?
If you are addicted to heroin and have developed a tolerance to its effects, you will experience withdrawal symptoms if you reduce or try to stop using. Heroin withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person, but there are common symptoms to watch for. Examples include diet changes, changes in sleeping patterns, jitters, shaking, uncontrollable leg movements, and stomach problems such as nausea and vomiting.
In more severe instances, withdrawal symptoms from heroin (as well as other opioids) could include severe and life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. These may include abnormal heart rate, abnormal respiratory rates, and seizures. Withdrawing from heroin is different for everyone. While some may experience mild symptoms, symptoms for others may be intense and potentially dangerous. The unpredictable nature of heroin withdrawal makes it crucial to start your sobriety journey in a safe and supported heroin detox program.
How to Find Heroin Detox in Southern California
Recovering from heroin addiction is a journey best done with support and guidance. No two people experience the same challenges as they take their first steps toward putting dependency on heroin in the past. At our Southern California heroin detox, the team at Laguna view detox can help you safely and successfully overcome heroin addiction.
Each of our Los Angeles detox programs is uniquely designed around your specific treatment needs and goals. Let us help you achieve lasting sobriety. Contact a member of our admissions team today to learn more.