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Heroin Addiction: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

Heroin is a powerful opioid drug that can have a devastating effect on a person’s health, job and family life, including addiction, overdose and even death. Heroin use can impact anyone, no matter their economic status, education, or family background. However, heroin addiction is treatable and there is hope for you or a loved one who is using heroin.
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What Is Heroin?

Heroin is a very addictive opioid derived from morphine, which is extracted from seed pods of certain kinds of poppy plants.1 Opioids affect nerve cells in both the brain and body and are often used as prescription pain relievers, but can also create sensations of euphoria (intense excitement).17 Heroin is classified by the DEA as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it is highly addictive and has no legitimate medical use.1 Heroin sold on the street is often mixed with additives or fillers.1 These substances can include sugar, powdered milk, various starches, a drug known as quinine, or even illicitly manufactured fentanyl.1

What Is Heroin Addiction?

Heroin addiction, or heroin use disorder, is a medical disease characterized by the continued uncontrollable use of heroin despite it causing significant problems in a person’s life and negatively impacting day-to-day functioning.4, 9

Heroin’s addictive power results from the way the body adapts to the drug. With continued use, a person requires more heroin to feel the same effects (tolerance). When a person tries to quit using heroin or drastically reduces use, they will feel very uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms after their body has developed a dependence on heroin.10, 11, 12

The way a person uses heroin may affect how they develop an addiction.6 Smoking or injecting heroin causes the substance to reach the brain faster, which may lead to a greater risk of a person developing a heroin addiction.6

Effects of Heroin

There are short-term immediate effects of heroin as well as effects that may be experienced because of long-term heroin use. Heroin attaches to the opioid receptors in the brain and creates effects that impact pleasure, respiration, pain and sleep.9

Heroin Addiction Treatment

Heroin treatment typically begins with detox to help the person clear the body of heroin and other substances and is followed by formal drug rehab treatment. Detox alone is rarely sufficient to support long-term abstinence.

A key principle of effective heroin treatment is that it’s individualized to meet a person’s specific needs. Treatment for heroin addiction may occur in both inpatient and outpatient settings, and usually involves a combination of behavioral therapy and medication.14

Get Help With Quitting Heroin

If you or your loved one need heroin addiction treatment, there is no need to struggle alone. Call American Addiction Centers (AAC) to speak to a caring admissions navigator who can help you understand treatment options, check your insurance coverage and start the road to recovery today. You can contact us for free at .

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