Guiding Road Recovery Center

Arizona Heroin Treatment Center

Understanding and Overcoming Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction can be an overwhelming and isolating experience, deeply affecting not only the individual but also their loved ones. The journey through addiction is fraught with challenges, from managing intense cravings and behaviors to coping with the physical toll of the drug. Families often find themselves in a whirlwind of worry, confusion, and helplessness, straining relationships and creating an environment of constant stress. At Guiding Road, we believe in a compassionate and holistic approach that supports both individuals and families on their path to recovery.

3 Page Contents

About Heroin Addiction

Definition
Causes
Symptoms

Definition

Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance extracted from the seed pod of various opium poppy plants. It can be injected, snorted, sniffed, or smoked. Heroin quickly enters the brain and binds to opioid receptors on cells located in many areas, especially those involved in feelings of pain and pleasure, as well as in controlling heart rate, sleeping, and breathing.

Causes

  • Genetic Predisposition: Family history of substance abuse can increase the risk of developing an addiction.
  • Brain Chemistry: Heroin alters brain chemistry, leading to dependency and a need for more of the drug to achieve the same effects.
  • Trauma: Experiencing traumatic events, such as abuse or loss, can lead individuals to use heroin as a coping mechanism.
  • Environmental Factors: Stressful living conditions, peer pressure, and exposure to drug use can trigger addiction.
  • Mental Health Issues: Individuals with underlying mental health conditions may turn to heroin to self-medicate.

Symptoms

Behavioral Symptoms:
  • Increased Use: Using heroin more frequently or in larger amounts.
  • Neglecting Responsibilities: Failing to meet work, school, or home obligations.
  • Social Withdrawal: Avoiding friends, family, and social activities.
  • Risky Behaviors: Engaging in risky behaviors, such as using heroin in dangerous situations or obtaining it illegally.
  • Financial Problems: Struggling with money due to spending on heroin or inability to maintain employment.
Physical Symptoms:
  • Respiratory Depression: Slow, shallow breathing or difficulty breathing.
  • Sedation: Extreme drowsiness or inability to stay awake.
  • Constipation: Severe, persistent constipation.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Frequent nausea or vomiting.
  • Collapsed Veins: Damage to veins from repeated injections.
  • Infections: Skin infections, abscesses, and other complications from needle use.
Psychological Symptoms:
  • Intense Cravings: Strong, uncontrollable desire to use heroin.
  • Mood Swings: Severe changes in mood, including irritability and agitation.
  • Paranoia: Feelings of extreme suspicion and mistrust.
  • Anxiety: Increased anxiety and panic attacks.
  • Depression: Persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

Health Risks

  • Overdose: High risk of fatal overdose due to heroin’s potency and narrow margin of safety.
  • Respiratory Arrest: Stopping breathing entirely, which can be fatal without immediate medical intervention.
  • Cardiovascular Problems: Increased risk of heart failure or other heart-related issues.
  • Neurological Damage: Seizures, brain damage due to hypoxia (lack of oxygen), and cognitive impairments.
  • Mental Health Deterioration: Worsening of conditions like anxiety, depression, and paranoia.
  • Infectious Diseases: Higher risk of contracting diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis through needle sharing.
  • Gastrointestinal Complications: Severe constipation and potential bowel obstruction.
  • Chronic Pain: Paradoxically, long-term use can increase sensitivity to pain.
  • Social and Relationship Issues: Strained or broken relationships, social isolation, and difficulties in maintaining healthy social interactions.

Know The Facts

Addressing heroin addiction promptly is crucial. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heroin-related overdose deaths have increased dramatically in recent years. Early intervention and comprehensive treatment are key to achieving recovery and preventing fatal outcomes.

Heroin Addiction FAQs

Guiding Road Recovery Center

Hope for Heroin Addiction

Our scientifically proven and individualized approach can help you or a loved one recover from Heroin Addiction.

Resources

Page Sources

  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2020). Heroin DrugFacts. Retrieved from NIDA
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2020). Heroin Overdose Data. Retrieved from CDC
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2020). Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from SAMHSA

Bobby Boykin, MS, LASAC, CRS

Executive Director
This article has been clinically reviewed by Bobby, a Licensed Associate Substance Abuse Counselor (LASAC) and Certified Recovery Specialist (CRS) at Guiding Road.
Last Reviewed
May 18, 2024

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