Welcome to the beginning of your journey to recovery from heroin, the #1 killer among drugs of abuse. It’s incredibly addictive, widely available for cheap, and if addicted, quitting can be equally as dangerous as abusing heroin itself. From Alaska to Hawaii and from Florida to Maine, heroin is currently ravaging the entire nation. We are amidst an epidemic, dare it be called a pandemic, when it comes to opiate abuse, and heroin is the main culprit.
Heroin is a derivative of the opium poppy, a plant that has been cultivated for over 5,000 years. It wasn’t until the 19th century that scientists realized that two powerful pain-killing chemicals could be produced from the plant: codeine and morphine. It wasn’t long until a chemist working for Bayer synthesized heroin, something twice as potent as morphine. By 1895, heroin was sold as an over-the-counter cough suppressant.
Twenty-nine years later, the sale, manufacture and/or importation of heroin was banned by Congress altogether. Today, heroin is a Schedule I drug and no longer does any legal use of it exist in the United States.
At the time of its creation, heroin was derived using only something called acetylation, which a bit complicated chemically, but created what is known as a ‘pure’ form of heroin. The heroin available today all over the streets is far from pure. Many large-scale drug dealers cut the heroin with cheaper substances that act the same way.
There’s a major problem here. Heroin is being cut today with fentanyl, a substance fifty times stronger than heroin, and sometimes it’s even cut with carfentanil, which is considered the single most potent opiate known to man.
Consider this quote from Jim McClelland, the Executive Director for Drug Prevention, Treatment, and Enforcement in the state of Indiana, a state which recently experienced an increase in drug poisoning deaths by over 135%:
“It cuts across all socioeconomic lines. It’s in our cities, suburbs, small towns and rural areas. This epidemic has been developing for 20 years. It’s a complex problem with many pieces, and there are no quick or easy solutions. But, if enough people work together, we can end the epidemic in far less time than it took to create it.”
This is a comprehensive article that takes you through the signs and risks of heroin abuse, and will show you how to recognize abuse signs and risks in order to help someone in need. We’ll also cover what withdrawal from heroin can be like, and finally what The Haven Detox has to offer in the way of detoxification from heroin, the extremely important first step toward recovery.
Traditionally, heroin detox is the toughest of all drugs, but don’t let that scare you. We have a comprehensive staff and facility ready to help you win your sobriety back.
If you wish only to read about our detoxification process itself, please scroll down and begin reading at the section titled About Our Heroin Detox Program. Otherwise, please continue to read on. We wish you the absolute best of luck, but with help from us here at The Haven, luck is something you may not need! Our ample staff and top-notch doctors are ready, willing and able to help you today.
Signs of Heroin Abuse
It’s important to recognize the signs of heroin abuse, and also to know that any use is abuse. Just because the drug was once legal or just because people you know are doing it does not mean the drug is not extremely dangerous. Heroin killed over 42 Americans a day last year. The synthetic opioids used to spike it killed nearly twice as many. We are dealing with a hyper-dangerous substance.
The main signs of heroin abuse are physical, especially if you see something called track marks. These are damaged veins, usually on the forearm, caused by injection of heroin with a needle. Also, heroin addicts tend to seem sickly, pale, even flu-like, and do not tend to act like or even be themselves, especially when using. The short-term and long-term health effects of heroin are covered later, and what follows is only a list of the signs of heroin abuse.
Signs someone is abusing heroin include:
- Falling asleep easily or anywhere, AKA ‘nodding out’
- Slurred speech
- Constricted pupils and/or extreme light sensitivity
- Nausea and/or vomiting (especially after use)
- Lack of appetite
- Slow, lethargic movement
Risks of Heroin Abuse
Drug Science is a research and charity organization headed by Professor David Nutt of Imperial College London, one of the world’s leading experts on drugs of abuse. In a paper written collectively by Drug Science in 2010, sixteen different parameters were used to determine the world’s most dangerous drug.
It should be no surprise to anyone that alcohol won the gold medal. On a global scale, alcohol kills someone every ten seconds. Every ten seconds. That death toll is literally hard to imagine. Now, that is quite a dangerous drug!
Heroin was second place.
The risks associated with heroin abuse are extremely severe. As we briefly covered, additives used in heroin such as fentanyl are capable of killing a full-grown man in a matter of seconds. These are called ‘hot shots’ and lead to an immediate fatal overdose.
You may remember from last year a couple from Ohio who simultaneously overdosed on heroin while driving with a young child in the back seat. The photo of the passed-out parents went viral and served as an image of the brutal epidemic we are facing. Obviously overdose is the main risk to heroin abuse, and this is a short-term risk.
There are many other short-term risks of heroin abuse, which include:
- Heavy skin flushing
- Dry mouth
- Feeling of heaviness
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Extreme itchiness
- Extreme drowsiness
- Impaired cognitive function
- Decreased heartrate
- Weakening of the heartbeat
- Slowed breathing, sometimes to the point of being fatal
- Brain damage
The long-term effects of heroin abuse are even worse. This is NOT a substance that reacts well with our body. The body count keeps rising, and it’s not just from overdoses.
The long-term effects of heroin abuse include but are not limited to:
- Collapsed veins (if injecting)
- Blood infections
- AIDS (if injecting)
- Hepatitis C2 (if injecting… over 70% of Americans with this contracted it from using needles for drug abuse.)
- Inflammation of the gums
- Rotting of teeth
- Brain damage
Recognizing Heroin Abuse & Stepping In
There is no safe use of heroin. Regardless of what you hear, it is a horrible devil of a drug, and can ruin lives quickly. If you or someone you know is a heroin user, TODAY is the time to step in. You can intervene, and begin the process of helping. With how dangerous every single hit of heroin has become, it’s best not to wait.
Of course, you can step in and help yourself too. As with all illicit substances, abuse can soon lead to addiction. One heroin use could be fatal. What high could possibly be worth that?
Stepping in and intervening when it comes to someone we know has a problem is never an easy thing to do. We love these people, and we do not want to hurt them, but we love them enough to know they are hurting themselves, and perhaps at a deadly rate. In such extreme cases, professional intervention is recommended. When it comes to trying to help someone you love, keep these tips in mind:
- Do not call the person an addict or even accuse them of being an abuser.
- Do not demand the person seeks help. Simply state your concerns.
- Encourage the possibility of help, but do not be forceful.
- Maintain the rapport you already have with the person. Acting differently will likely arouse suspicion.
Withdrawal from Heroin
From the National Institute on Drug Abuse: “Symptoms of withdrawal include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps (“cold turkey”), and leg movements. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 24–48 hours after the last dose of heroin and subside after about a week. However, some people have shown persistent withdrawal signs for many months.”
We are not here to withhold the truth. Withdrawal from heroin can be hellish. This is why when detoxing off of heroin it is CRUCIAL to be under the care of professionals. A major risk for those withdrawing from heroin is suicide. In fact, the rate of suicide among heroin abusers has been as high as 35% in recent times. For that reason alone anyone detoxing from heroin needs to make sure he or she is in the hands of healthcare professionals, and we assure you that when it comes to southern Florida there is no more-equipped facility than The Haven Detox.
Heroin withdrawal symptoms include:
- Body aches
- Vomiting / nausea / diarrhea
- Restless legs
- Extreme nervousness
- Intense cravings for more heroin
- Damaged respiratory system
It should be noted that a heroin withdrawal is not considered to have the potential to kill someone, unless undergone with zero help. Medical detox, as offered by The Haven, is the best method for weaning oneself off of heroin and its strong grasp.
Withdrawal symptoms are much more likely to occur, and much more likely to be worse, if an addict stops using without help. The Haven can provide all of the help necessary for a heroin addict to begin the path to recovery. The first step, as mentioned, is detoxification, commonly called detox, which safely and effectively removes all traces of heroin (and other opiates if applicable) from the body.
About Our Heroin Detox Program
A very large portion of our patients here at The Haven Detox arrive with serious addictions to heroin. Some smoke it; others snort it, but the vast majority abuse heroin by way of intravenous injection. They come to The Haven Detox in West Palm Beach, as opposed to typical drug rehab style detox settings, because they understand that experiencing a higher success rate here will mean a greater likelihood for achieving long-term success in sobriety. In addition, they are drawn to our in-depth process which, goes far beyond traditional medical detox and also incorporates supplementary services that further support the overall heroin addiction detoxification process.
Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs people misuse and abuse. The Haven Detox in West Palm Beach, Florida helps thousands of heroin drug victims get back the life they lost because of the heroin drug. We provide inpatient heroin detox that helps many addicts cope with the stressful cravings and situations of heroin addiction.
Heroin & Opiate Detox
If you’re contemplating detox from opiates, it is highly recommended that you do so under medical supervision. Our detox program at The Haven Detox is designed to help you safely avoid as many of the withdrawal symptoms as possible.
We focus on your needs, symptoms of withdrawal, and setting you on a right path of recovery. Your comfort levels and ultimate success in long-term recovery are our main priorities when you come and visit us.
Medically Safe Heroin Detox
Our program is considered a medical detoxification program as we will prescribe non-narcotic, non-addictive medications to help you remain comfortable and stable. If you have been using opiates for an extended period of time, only medical supervision will provide you the highest level of comfort and safety. This is generally done by tapering clients off their current drug of choice, gradually decreasing the doses. Substitute medications may also be administered; it all depends on the individual case. We only administer the safest protocols for your program.
The withdrawal from and subsequent detoxification from heroin is different for every abuser. Other than body chemistry, the purity and quantity of heroin abused is a major factor. Typically, the more heroin used, the longer/harder of a detox. Still, under the care of the professionals at The Haven Detox, your recovery may not necessarily be easy, but it will be comfortable, and it will be handled with the utmost care.