What is Heroin?

Heroin is an illegal drug processed from morphine, which naturally occurs in the seed pods of opium poppy plants. Heroin is considered an opioid because it’s made with opium, and it has the same highly addictive nature that opioid painkillers do, which are prescribed by doctors. Opium naturally comes from the opium poppy plant. It can also be manufactured synthetically.

When heroin is taken, opium from heroin will attach to opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body, which then blocks pain messages that are sent from the spinal cord to the brain. They then release large amounts of dopamine throughout the body. This strong feeling of dopamine release can make the opioid abuser feel addicted and want to keep taking heroin for its euphoric effects.

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What does heroin look like?

Heroin is sold as a white or brown powder and is typically used for snorting or smoking. Heroin can also be a sticky black tar-like substance, similar to coal or roofing tar. Black tar heroin is usually injected.

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How is heroin taken?

Heroin can be smoked, snorted, or injected. Typically before injection, heroin is heated with a lighter or candle in a spoon or bottle cap. Heroin is heated because it inactivates the HIV virus that can come from sharing needles.

Why do people use heroin?

People use heroin to receive a feeling of euphoria from the opium that is in heroin. Many addicts use it to escape unhappy personal lives or to self-medicate for anxiety or depression. In the 2000’s, many prescription painkiller addicts turned to heroin when the government began to crack down on the over prescription of OxyContin to combat the opioid epidemic.

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SLANG TERMS

  • China white
  • Black tar
  • Chiva
  • Junk
  • Mexican mud
  • Black pearl
  • White horse
  • Skag

History of Heroin

Heroin was first synthesized from morphine in 1874, which came from the seed pods of the opium poppy plant. In 1898, heroin was produced for medical use by the Bayer Company in Germany. In 1924, heroin was made illegal in the U.S., 21 years after medical professionals started to notice the addictive effect it had on users. By 1995, Southeast Asia produced 2,500 tons of opium, which lead to illegal trading.

Heroin rose in popularity in 2010, after prescription painkillers containing opium were harder to obtain. While heroin started out as a popular urban drug, it grew in popularity in suburban neighborhoods during this time. It quickly began the second opioid epidemic in the U.S. At that point, deaths from heroin overdoses increased by 286% from 2002. Today, you’ll notice that black tar heroin is commonly found on the West Coast and produced in Mexico, and white and brown heroin powder is commonly found on the East Coast from South American and Southeast Asia.

 

What are the Symptoms of Heroin Addiction?

If you or your loved one is addicted to heroin, you’ll begin to notice symptoms that resemble the flu, including vomiting and sweating. They may seem to be acting out of sorts, such as slurring their speech, moving slowly, or sleeping excessively. They may do whatever it takes to cure their heroin craving, including stealing or getting in trouble with the law. Withdrawal symptoms can happen as soon as their first or second experience with the drug.

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SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Moving slowly
  • Craving heroin
  • Drowsiness
  • Sweating
  • Sensitivity to pain
  • Slurred speech

PARAPHERNALIA

  • Hypodermic needle
  • Spoon
  • Lighter
  • Rubber-tubing
  • Syringe
  • Candle
  • Foil
  • Cotton balls

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What are the Effects of
Heroin Addiction?

The short-term effects of heroin include euphoria and a feeling like a user is dreaming or walking through a dream. Then they may feel heavy limbs and depressed breathing. They also may experience a nodding off sensation that goes from drowsiness to alertness. Long term, users could experience respiratory failure. From inserting dirty needles, addicts could get an infection in their heart lining or valves. Injection can lead to a vein collapse.

Short Term Effects of Heroin Addiction

  • Euphoria
  • Dry mouth
  • Feeling of heavy limbs
  • Constipation
  • Warm, flushed skin
  • Nodding off and drowsy
  • Slower breathing
  • Foggy mental feeling

Long Term Effects of Heroin Addiction

  • Skin infections
  • Stomach cramps
  • Kidney disease
  • Infection in heart and valves
  • Respiratory failure
  • Pneumonia
  • Collapsed veins
  • Liver disease

SUBSTANCE* ADDICTION STATISTICS

15,482

overdoses were related to heroin in 2017.

80%

Of heroin users started with a prescription painkiller.

5x

increase of heroin-related overdose deaths from 2010 to 2017.

How is Heroin Addiction Treated?

Heroin addiction takes mental and physical treatment because of the withdrawal symptoms you will experience during the detox treatment. Heroin requires medication, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), counseling, and sometimes medication-assisted therapy (MAT). MAT is a comprehensive treatment that includes medicine, counseling, and therapy.

Here at Gratitude Lodge, you’ll detox from heroin under the care and supervision of expertly trained medical staff. After your detoxification process, you can stay in our residential addiction treatment center. There, you’ll receive personalized counseling, participate in group therapy, and develop an invaluable support system that will help provide a long-lasting recovery and defense mechanisms from relapse. You may also receive naltrexone, methadone, or buprenorphine medications. Naltrexone helps prevent relapse, and methadone and buprenorphine help ease withdrawal symptoms.

 

Common Drug Combinations with Heroin?

Heroin is often paired with crack cocaine, and sometimes benzos (benzodiazepines), to create an effect called “speedballing.” The combination can intensify the high received from heroin and cocaine than they can provide on their own. Heroin can also be paired with stimulants, sedatives, and depressants.

  • Cocaine (“Speedball”)
  • Xanax
  • Meth
  • Benzos
  • Marijuana
  • Opioids
  • Crack cocaine
  • Alcohol
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