Heroin use and addiction isn’t a new issue. This illicit substance has been a popular street drug for more than 40 years. However, it was only recently that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention had publically determined that heroin addiction has reached epidemic-level proportions. In fact, heroin is now one of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States today. Heroin addiction rates are higher than they’ve ever been in the past. This is why it’s important that we should be aware of what it is we’re truly dealing with. By educating ourselves about heroin, its effects, and its withdrawal symptoms, users looking to get clean can better equip themselves for overcoming heroin addiction.
The Effects of Heroin
There are several ways of taking heroin, including injection, sniffing and smoking. Although all these methods take different amounts of time to take effect, the effects are usually the same. Heroin provides a ‘rush’ that has been described by users as being a very warm, numb and/or tingling sensation. This is not entirely surprising since heroin contains opium. Heroin is well-known for suppressing feelings of bodily pain, similar to the painkillers that also contain opium as a primary ingredient. However, with heroin use also comes intense feelings of sedation, lethargy, and euphoria. Hence, the addictive nature of the drug.
A Brief History of Heroin
Similar to opiate drugs, heroin is derived from the opium poppy plant. Interestingly enough, this particular plant has been an integrative part of human history dating back thousands of years. Civilizations like ancient Egypt, Babylonia, and Greece used opium for a variety of purposes. Documented uses include spiritual practices, primitive surgical anesthetics, and recreational use. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century when opium-based substances become more widespread and commonly used throughout other areas of the world, like North America. It during this time that the dangerous and addictive properties of opium finally coming to light. Since then, similar substances that lack the same addictive properties and unpleasant side effects became available as a safer therapeutic alternative to opium-based drugs.
Heroin Dependence and Withdrawal
Developing a physical and psychological dependence on heroin is highly likely with regular use. Although withdrawal from heroin may not be considered as life-threatening as other drugs like benzodiazepines, it is still an incredibly uncomfortable experience.
Like in most cases of withdrawal, users suffer through overall physical and psychological stress. Such discomfort might include:
- mood swings
- high blood pressure
- heart palpitations
Overcoming Heroin Addiction
Quitting heroin without help isn’t easy, but thankfully, there are plenty of resources available to help addicts overcome their dependence on this drug. After detoxing with medical assistance, recovering users can take advantage of counseling, individual and group therapy, relapse prevention programs and other useful tools for lifelong sobriety. At All About Recovery, our team of dedicated professionals works to help individuals achieve sobriety through personalized treatment within our programs.