Heroin addiction is a complex and devastating problem affecting millions worldwide. It destroys not only the lives of those who use it and their families and communities. Understanding what heroin is, the short-term and long-term effects, the symptoms of heroin addiction, and the importance of professional heroin addiction treatment offer the best chance of breaking the cycle of addiction for yourself or a loved one.
The Arbor Behavioral Healthcare in Austin, Texas is an exemplary facility for those seeking to understand what is heroin addiction and how to overcome it. Call 844.413.2690 today to learn about our programs and services, or to get started on the path toward recovery.
What Is Heroin and How Is It Used?
Heroin is an illegal opioid drug derived from morphine, a natural substance extracted from the seed pod of the opium poppy plant. It appears as a white or brown powder, or as a black, sticky substance known as “black tar heroin.” Heroin can be used in various ways, including snorting, smoking, or injecting it directly into the bloodstream. When consumed, it binds to opioid receptors in the brain, producing an intense euphoric sensation and suppressing feelings of pain.
Effects of Heroin Use and Heroin Addiction
Heroin is incredibly potent and addictive; even short-term use can lead to dependency. Understanding the short- and long-term effects of heroin addiction and use can help you or a loved one determine when to seek professional treatment.
Heroin’s immediate effects include a rush of pleasure and warmth, often accompanied by a dry mouth, heavy limbs, and clouded mental functioning.
Users may also experience the following:
- Severe itching
As the drug starts to wear off, individuals may become drowsy, and experience slowed breathing, potentially leading to a fatal overdose.
Long-term heroin use can have severe physical, emotional, and behavioral consequences.
Physical effects can include the following:
- Respiratory depression
- Damage to blood vessels of the heart and brain
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Insomnia and sleep disturbances
- Chronic constipation and gastrointestinal issues
- Weight loss or malnutrition due to reduced appetite
- Skin problems due to infection or chronic itching
The emotional effects of heroin addiction can be significant and can profoundly impact the individual’s life. These effects include:
- Increased anxiety, depression, and mood swings due to the drug’s disruptive effect on brain chemistry.
- Diminished interest in once enjoyable activities; this often leads to feelings of isolation and despair.
- Loss of motivation, resulting in a lack of interest or commitment to anything outside of self-destructive activities.
The adverse behavioral effects of heroin addiction can lead to severe outcomes, including the following:
- Risk-taking behaviors, such as unprotected sex
- Erratic mood swings and increased aggression
- Limited impulse control leading to criminal activities
- Social isolation due to withdrawal from family and friends
- Decreased performance at work or school
- Financial instability due to spending money on drugs instead of necessities like rent or food
- Poor hygiene due to neglecting basic body care needs
Symptoms of Heroin Addiction
Heroin addiction is characterized by a compulsive need to use the drug despite negative consequences. Symptoms of addiction may include:
- Intense cravings for heroin
- Increased tolerance, requiring higher doses to achieve the desired effect
- Withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug, such as muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, and cold flashes
- Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home
- Persistent drug-seeking behavior and illegal activities to obtain heroin
- Failed attempts to quit or reduce heroin use
The Importance of Professional Addiction Treatment
Overcoming heroin addiction is an arduous process that often requires professional intervention. Addiction treatment centers provide a safe, structured environment with access to medical care, counseling, and support services. These facilities offer various evidence-based therapies, such as medication-assisted treatment, individual and group counseling, and relapse prevention techniques. The advantages of seeking professional treatment include the following:
- Medical supervision during detoxification to manage withdrawal symptoms and prevent complications
- Access to medications that can help reduce cravings and stabilize brain chemistry
- Support from trained professionals who understand the complexities of addiction and recovery
- Peer support from others who are going through similar experiences
- Assistance in developing healthy coping mechanisms and strategies for maintaining long-term sobriety
The Arbor Behavioral Healthcare: A Premier Addiction Treatment Facility
Located in Austin, Texas, The Arbor Behavioral Healthcare is a professionally recognized addiction treatment facility that provides comprehensive care for individuals struggling with heroin addiction or other substance use disorders. The Arbor’s team of experienced clinicians and therapists create customized addiction treatment plans tailored to each individual’s unique needs.
At The Arbor, clients receive a combination of evidence-based therapies and holistic healing modalities, such as yoga, meditation, and equine therapy. This integrative approach addresses not only the physical aspects of addiction but also the emotional, mental, and spiritual components, fostering lasting recovery.