Heroin Addiction and Opioids

Heroin is part of the opiate class of drugs and an illicit street drug. Derived from the opium poppy, this class of drugs includes morphine and prescription opioid derivatives such as fentanyl and oxycodone. A significant majority of people addicted to heroin started as a last resort to feed their prescription opiate habit. Over 170,000 people between the ages of 18 and 25 started using heroin for the first time in 2016.

Early Signs

  • Dry mouth
  • Flushed skin
  • The person may nod off, appear confused, or drowsy
  • Trouble remembering things
  • Difficulty following conversations or participating in conversations
  • Tiny, pinprick pupils

Timeline for Withdrawal

The timeline for heroin withdrawal depends on how the person has used the drug. Most will experience withdrawals for about a week, but longer-term users may experience the effects for up to a month after cessation.

Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal

  • Headaches
  • Nausea, stomach pains, and cramping
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Agitation, anxiety, and panic attacks
  • Intense cravings for the drug
  • Watery, tearful eyes
  • Sweating
  • Muscle pain
  • Shivers
  • Fatigue

The Dangers of Overdosing

According to the CDC, heroin overdose deaths rose 20% from 2014 to 2015. Overdosing on heroin can cause a dangerous fall in the user’s blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate. Users can experience seizures, choke on their vomit, and die. Symptoms of a heroin overdose include:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Coma
  • Blue or pale skin
  • Weak pulse
  • Discolored Tongue
  • Spasms and seizures

How to Treat Heroin Withdrawal?

With a medical detox facility, addicts can safely withdraw from the drug. The medical staff is on-call 24/7 to help them with painful and distressing symptoms. Addicts can be prescribed legal drugs to lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms, and this will, in turn, lower their risk of relapse.

After safely detoxing, people in recovery can receive supportive treatment from trained therapists in an inpatient or outpatient facility. With time, support, and determination, people can go on to make a lifelong recovery from heroin addiction.

Watch the entire Windward Way Explainer Series about addiction, insurance, detox, treatment, & more on our Youtube page. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlyPaVDK6k9u8sujYBdZQXpko_ZfXJFqQ