Heroin is a highly addictive and deadly drug derived from resin found in poppy plants. Opium is harvested from poppy plans and can be refined into morphine which can further be broken down, refined, and turned into heroin.

Heroin addiction treatment focuses on to understand the urges to use, underlying emotional pain, and developing behaviors and responses that reduce the likelihood of relapse.

People use heroin in many different ways — injecting, smoking, and sniffing. It can appear in many forms:

  • A fine white powder
  • A dark-colored powder ranging in color from brown to gray to black
  • A sticky, tarry substance.

Heroin is often cut with benign substances such as sugar or powdered milk, but may also be cut with dangerous substances poisons, and other drugs. This cutting creates another danger to users who may not be aware of the contents of the powder they are using.

Using Heroin

Heroin users often experience a “rush” that causes euphoria. This sensation usually occurs immediately when the drug is injected. Users who snort or smoke the drug experience a slower high.

Users who abuse heroin over time need more of the drug to achieve the same euphoric effects. The body becomes more dependent and withdrawal symptoms become more severe if the person does not continue to use. Heroin withdrawal symptoms can be severe and violent.

Users often take heroin with other drugs such as alcohol or cocaine. This intensifies the experience, but also the dangers of dependency.

Heroin works similarly to opioid medications, binding to brain receptors to reduce the perception of pain and produce the high. The rapid onset of pleasurable sensations are powerful and create a strong desire to repeat the sensation.

Heroin users may experience the following:

  • Constipation
  • Constricted pupils
  • Diarrhea
  • Distorted or clouded mental function
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling heaviness in the limbs
  • Fever
  • Flushing of the skin
  • Insomnia
  • Itching which can be severe
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Respiratory depression (slowed breathing)
  • Unconsciousness
  • Vomiting

Users also can face long-term consequences due to using heroin, not only from the drug’s effects, but also the behaviors users exhibit, such as sharing dirty needles. Chronic uses can face collapsed veins, liver disease, abscesses, and pulmonary issues, including pneumonia. Bacterial infections are common to the skin, bloodstream, and heart. Viral infections such as HIV and hepatitis B and C are constant risks to those sharing needles.

Users, once addicted, have a difficult time fulfilling work and family obligations, often spending much of their time looking to find and use heroin, or find the money to buy more heroin.


Detox from heroin can be severe and painful. Heroin detox centers provide for safe spaces where patients can be monitored and symptoms treated. Withdrawal symptoms can vary from mild to severe, depending on the level of dependence for the patient. Given how rapidly detox symptoms can appear — as little as 12 hours after the last use of the drug — it’s important the patients be monitored while detoxing.

Detox symptoms observed, either in a heroin detox center, hospital, heroin rehab centers, or at home, may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Jitters
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting

Occasionally, more several heroin withdrawal symptoms may occur which can result in hospitalization and death. These include agitation, hallucinations, high fevers, or seizures.


Overdosing from heroin is, unfortunately, all too common. Overdose symptoms include blue-tinged lips and fingertips, slowed respiration, clammy skin, convulsions, and coma.

Overdoses have skyrocketed in recent years. Heroin overdose deaths reached 15,000 in 2015, a 20 percent jump over 2014, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Treatment for Heroin Addition

Treatment may begin after detoxification to get at the root causes of the drug abuse and to reduce the risk of repeat usage. Relapse with heroin addiction can be high, so treatment focuses on helping the person afflicted understand the behaviors, actions, and coping skills necessary to remain sober.

Heroin addiction has a major impact on the person struggling with addiction and loved ones. Heroin addiction treatment centers offer powerful solutions that address the underlying issues related to addiction.

Our heroin addiction treatment does not rely on 12-step programs or the use of pain-relieving or mind-altering substances. Instead, we focus on a holistic approach that focuses on treating the physical and emotional healing each patient needs.

Our inpatient heroin rehab typically lasts 90 days and features at least 30 days of detox, which is more than twice as long as at other heroin addiction treatment centers. Our heroin rehab services require effective inpatient and aftercare resources, including one-on-one check-up calls, group support referrals and vocational training.