Signs and Effects of Heroin Addiction, Withdrawal Symptoms, and Drug Rehab Treatment Options

Heroin enters the brain rapidly, attaching to opioid receptors on cells, particularly those involved in feelings of pain or pleasure, heart rate, sleeping, and breathing. As such, it only takes a matter of minutes after using heroin that changes in the brain and body are felt and addiction is likely to follow. In fact, it is estimated that one out of four people who use heroin will become dependant on it. 

However, there is hope. With treatment, especially through inpatient/intensive outpatient drug rehab, therapy, and support groups, a heroin addiction can be addressed and the user can successfully transition from addiction to sobriety.

Signs You May Need Drug Rehab for Heroin Addiction and Side-Effects of Use

Addiction can quickly develop when heroin is introduced into the body of a heroin user. As such, the user’s universe may be centered around seeking heroin while neglecting daily obligations and relationships.

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Some behavioral signs related to heroin use that can be a red flag for someone to seek treatment include:

  • Changes in behavior
  • Lying and secretiveness
  • Avoiding people that were once an important part of the user’s life
  • Quickly running out of money
  • Spots on the skin where heroin was injected
  • Legal troubles
  • Mood changes (erratic, aggressive, depressed, etc.)
  • Isolation from friends and social events
  • New friends that display interest in drug use

When a person continues to use heroin, despite its dangers, they are at risk for much more severe health consequences. If the user continues using heroin despite suffering adverse health side-effects, such as following, then seeking drug rehab will be beneficial to the user: 

  • Insomnia
  • Collapsed vein for people injecting the drug
  • Lung complications
  • Pneumonia
  • Damaged tissue inside the nose for people who snort or sniff the drug
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Infection of the heart lining and valves
  • Abscesses (swollen tissue filled with pus) 
  • Sexual dysfunction for men
  • Irregular menstrual cycles for women
  • Mental disorders like depression and antisocial personality disorder

Because heroin can be costly and hard to get, many users may turn to stealing from others in order to acquire more drugs. As such, stealing for more heroin or drug dealing in order to make extra money may expose the user to legal troubles. Furthermore, heroin use exposes a person to a wide spectrum of mental and physical challenges. People who use heroin report feeling a euphoric “high” or “rush” after taking the drug. Other common short-term effects may include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Warm flushing of the skin
  • Severe itching
  • Clouded mental functioning
  • Heavy feeling in the arms and legs
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A state of consciousness and semi-consciousness

Heroin Addiction Drug Rehab Treatment Options for Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Because the withdrawal symptoms can be severe, it is essential that when detoxing off of heroin, one seek the help of a medically-trained professional, preferably in an inpatient drug rehab facility where the user can be monitored 24/7. The length and intensity of withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on many factors, such as the severity of the addiction and the person’s genetic makeup. 

Some short-term withdrawal symptoms include: 

  • Muscle aches
  • Tearing up
  • Agitation
  • Excessive yawning
  • Trouble falling and staying asleep
  • Anxiety
  • Nose running
  • Sweats
  • Racing heart
  • Hypertension
  • Fever

Some late withdrawal symptoms, usually peaking around 72 hours and lasting for a week or more, include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Hyperactivity
  • High blood pressure
  • Drug cravings
  • Paranoia

Withdrawal symptoms typically start within the first 12 hours after taking the last dose of heroin and can last 10 days or more. 

Inpatient Drug Rehab Treatment for Withdrawal from Heroin Addiction 

Inpatient drug rehab is responsible for the success of many heroin users transitioning from addiction to sobriety. With inpatient treatment, the person with the addiction stays in the facility for a duration of time, usually between 30-90 days, but in some cases, depending on the severity of the addiction, may stay longer. During their stay, the addiction is addressed through detox, therapy, support groups, and activities. Inpatient drug rehab is beneficial in that it eliminates all outside distractions and temptations of drug-using in order to have the best chance of successful long-term sobriety. Because heroin withdrawal symptoms can be intense, medically trained staff help the user to detox off the drug safely and effectively. Moreover, having medical professionals staffed 24/7 at an inpatient treatment center provides the safety one needs if a medical emergency were to arise.

How to Seek Help Through Drug Rehab Treatment for Heroin Addiction

As previously mentioned, seeking medically trained help is essential when detoxing off of heroin. Furthermore, inpatient drug treatment centers are exponentially helpful to help someone addicted to heroin to transition to sobriety in a safe environment. In inpatient or outpatient (going to the facility for scheduled appointments and returning home later that day) treatment, the root of the addiction can be addressed through individual, group, and family counseling, increasing the likelihood that the user will maintain long-term sobriety for the future. If you or a loved one struggles with heroin addiction, the time to get help is now. Don’t let another day go by without getting the treatment you need and deserve.