Heroin addiction is one of the most commonly treated conditions in rehab centers. It presents some of the biggest challenges in the detox process due to its highly addictive nature. Seeking both professional medical detox and long-term rehabilitation treatment is important for heroin recovery.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an opiate addiction, call Drug Treatment Centers, Salem at (503) 339-1421.
Heroin is an illegal narcotic drug derived from morphine. Morphine is a naturally occurring substance which can be found in poppy seedpods. Drugs in this family are referred to as “opiates” and can include prescription drugs like OxyContin. Often, abuse of opioid medications leads addicts to the cheaper and more widely available heroin.
Heroin is manufactured in two distinct forms in the United States. Pure heroin is more difficult to come by and is a bright white powder. It is most often snorted or smoked. The more common form of this drug is known as “black tar” or “sticky” heroin, a brown or black residue that is sticky to the touch. This form is usually heated with water and injected directly into the veins. The color and feel of this substance is due to impurities and added elements.
Many of the symptoms of heroin use and addiction are quite distinct and help to easily distinguish them from other drug abuse symptoms. A person who abuses this drug may fall asleep suddenly and unexpectedly, sometimes in the middle of a conversation. Slowed breathing (sometimes dangerously so) is also a common side effect of opiate abuse.
Additional symptoms include slurred speech, confusion, disorientation, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Heroin users also have a tendency to experience “itching” due to the effects the drug has on the mind and body, and will scratch their skin frequently and uncontrollably causing bleeding and leaving cuts and open wounds. As opposed to other drugs, opiate users often have constricted (“pinned”) pupils as well.
Minor health effects can include a constant runny nose, weight loss, and reduced appetite. The open scratches and wounds on the body caused by scratching “itchy” skin may become infected as they often go untreated and the person continues to scratch them in spite of the presence of blood. Sites of injection can become irritated or infected easily due to unsanitary handling of needles.
Additional risks include transmitting and becoming infected with blood borne pathogens like HIV due to shared or dirty needle use. Heart issues including the life-threatening bacterial infection known as endocarditis are also extremely common among opiate users. Heart issues associated with heroin use are often difficult to treat as they go undiagnosed for a prolonged period of time.
There is also a high potential for fatal overdoses among heroin users, especially if they are intravenous drug users. Opiates naturally slow a person’s breathing even in “normal” doses. If a person takes too much, their breathing can slow so much that it stops completely. A user may appear to be sleeping by onlookers and miss the opportunity to seek medical help.
Find help for opiate addiction before it is too late. Call Drug Treatment Centers, Salem at (503) 339-1421 for assistance.
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