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The Transition House, Inc.

Recovering from heroin addiction


Heroin is a highly addictive opioid drug. By 2012, over half a million Americans surveyed by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that they had used heroin in the past year. Treatment that combines specific addiction medication and behavioral therapy, called medication assisted treatment, has been proven to be effective in treating individuals recovering from heroin addiction. In this blog, you’ll learn more about what heroin is and what your treatment options are when it comes to heroin abuse.

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What is heroin?

Heroin is highly addictive and is an illegal opioid drug that is derived from morphine. It can be injected, snorted or smoked. The appearance of heroin varies. It can be a white or brown powder, or black and sticky as in the case of black tar heroin. Street names for heroin include big H, horse, hell dust and smack.

What are the symptoms of heroin addiction?

Because heroin is an opioid drug, it binds to opioid receptors in the brain which can cause a “rush” of euphoria and result in feelings of pleasure or pain, and even impact your heart rate and how you breathe. Below are just some of the symptoms of using heroin.

Short-term effects of heroin use

  • Dry mouth
  • Flushed skin
  • Feeling heaviness in the arms and legs
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe itching
  • Clouded mental functioning
  • Going back and forth between consciousness and unconsciousness

Long-term effects of heroin use:

  • Insomnia
  • Collapsed veins, if injecting heroin
  • Damaged tissue in the nose, if snorting or sniffing heroin
  • Infection of the heart lining and valves
  • Abscesses
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Lung complications and pneumonia
  • Mental disorders like depression and antisocial personality disorder
  • Sexual dysfunction in men
  • Irregular menstrual cycles for women
  • Constipation and stomach cramping
  • Clogged blood vessels from additives sometimes found in heroin

How do you treat heroin addiction?

Heroin addiction can be treated with medication and behavioral therapy. Medication assisted treatment, which includes a combination of medication and behavioral therapy, is the preferred method for treating opioid abuse, such as heroin addiction. Medication assisted treatment is available at each of our counseling center locations. If you’re looking for a counseling center near you, you can view all of our locations here.

It is possible to choose recovery over addiction. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you overcome heroin addiction.

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