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Heroin is part of a class of drugs known as opiates — it is a derivative of the opium poppy plant, which historically plays a part in the production of morphine. Synthetic versions of the poppy’s active chemical are used to create opioid medications like oxycodone, fentanyl and codeine. As a group, opiates and opioids are known for their painkilling properties and for producing a euphoric, numb and pleasantly drowsy effect that is highly addictive.

Even though the dangers of heroin and similar drugs are well known and often portrayed in popular media, hundreds of thousands of Americans regularly use the drug each year, many of whom classify as having a heroin use disorder or addiction. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health puts the total number of American heroin users at nearly 500 million in 2017 and notes that these numbers have increased slightly from heroin usage rates between 2002 and 2015. Experts also agree that there is a link between the increase in prescription opioid abuse and heroin abuse. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes that many young people who report using heroin also report prior recreational use of opioid medications, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that up to 80% of current heroin users have also used opioids.

What Is Heroin Addiction?

Heroin abuse is often characterized by intense cravings, quickly built tolerances and harsh withdrawal symptoms. The drug is most frequently injected directly into a user’s veins, which delivers an intense and near-immediate high that causes the brain and body to crave the instant gratification when the effects wear off. Heroin users also find that they need to use increasingly more of the drug to achieve the same level of high. This is known as building a tolerance, and it can be incredibly dangerous as it often leads to overdosing which, in the case of heroin, can be fatal. All opiate and opioid drugs have a similar rate of tolerance build, which may lead users of prescription painkillers to seek heroin when they can no longer afford enough pills to get the effects that they want. Since heroin can take such a strong grip on users’ lives quite quickly, there are often several warning signs, including:

  • Worsening performance at work, school or other responsibilities
  • Loss of interest in typical activities or hobbies
  • Sudden financial strain
  • Track marks on the arms (and/or efforts to hide them, such as always wearing long sleeves)
  • Drug paraphernalia like baggies, spoons or needles
  • Itching
  • Moodiness
  • Unexplained frequent physical illness including nausea, fever and chills

Since continued use of heroin has a high chance of leading to a potentially fatal overdose, you shouldn’t wait to get help for heroin use. Whether you are using heroin or you suspect a loved one is struggling with heroin addiction, professional treatment is always the best course of action.

Treating Heroin Addiction at The Guest House

At The Guest House, we provide a compassionate, comforting and safe space for men and women to recover from addiction and mental health concerns. We offer premier therapies and services for addiction to a wide range of substances, including heroin and other opioids. Our levels of care include every stage from detox through outpatient programs, all located at our beautiful, private estate on the outskirts of Ocala, Florida. We specialize in providing holistic treatment that focuses on the long run, uncovering the underlying causes of our clients’ health concerns so they can heal from the inside, out. If you or your loved one is struggling with heroin addiction or abuse, reach out to us today to find out if our programs are the right fit. Call our admissions team at 855-483-7800.