What Is Heroin Addiction?

If you or a loved one need help with a heroin addiction, Oasis Recovery Communities Runcorn offer an assisted medical detox service and bespoke rehabilitation programme for those suffering. We fully understand that detoxing from Heroin can be very uncomfortable and a frightening prospect for most; we therefore take every measure possible to ensure that you receive the required levels of Counselling support and medication to help you through the process of becoming completely Heroin free.

Heroin – Dangerously Addictive and Deadly

If you are using Heroin, whether it is recreationally or you are suffering from an addiction, it is important to know the facts about the drug, its effects and the risks associated with it. There is a very high mortality rate amongst Heroin users, so it important to get help straight away if you are using or abusing the drug. The majority of Heroin related deaths are attributed to users overdosing unintentionally. You may only think you are in control and know what you are doing, but what do you really know about the drug and the dangers it presents? For a start, Heroin is often mixed or “cut “with other substances that are cheaper, so that the dealer can make a bigger profit. Some strains are contaminated and contain even more powerful drugs that keep the user hooked and going back for more. Some are cut with prescription benzodiazepines and poisons. For an individual that is addicted, this is the last thing on their mind; they just want to relieve the symptoms of withdrawal with the quickest way possible, which means taking another hit, regardless of the consequences.

There has been a shocking increase in the number of Heroin and Morphine related deaths over the past two years; with an increase in the numbers by almost two-thirds. This heavily contributes to the mortality rate from drug poisoning, rising to the highest level ever since records began in 1983.

Last year statistics were released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showing that there were 952 deaths involving heroin and morphine, which were recorded in 2014. This has risen significantly since 2012, where 579 deaths were recorded as being attributed to poisoning from these drugs.

Heroin, is broken down, by the body, into morphine; this is why it is recorded under the two drugs – accounting for 42% of the total mortality figure due to the misuse of drugs.

In particular, it has been identified that middle-aged males (aged 40 -55) are at the highest risk of mortality from a Heroin related death

The Risks of Heroin Addiction

As a Class A drug, Heroin is illegal to posses and sell. Its effects are profound and it is highly addictive. As one of the most powerful drugs you can buy off the street, users can become physically addicted within a matter of days of continuous use. Withdrawal is extremely uncomfortable and can be dangerous is not managed appropriately. Many users end up trapped in the cycle of using to avoid withdrawal. As their tolerance to the drug grows (which is does quickly), they find they need more and more to gain the same effects.

The most common form of self-administration of Heroin is to smoke it. However, many users resort to injecting as their tolerance to the drug increases. Injecting produces a more intense and quicker high as it is delivered in a more concentrated form to the brain via the bloodstream. It also carries far more health risks than smoking. Many users will start out smoking Heroin and swear that they will never inject with needles (mainly due to the stigma associated with Heroin injectors) Socially, smoking Heroin seems more acceptable and the user feels more in control. Once they have developed a tolerance to heroin, they are then physically addicted as well as mentally addicted. Despite the health risks associated with injecting, such as abscesses at the injection site, blood poisoning and contracting a bloodborne virus such as Hepatitis and HIV, this is dis-guarded, as they find they can no longer get high by smoking it alone.

Withdrawing from and stopping Heroin is notoriously difficult. Withdrawal produces intense cravings for the drug, as the individual’s body and brain start to display an array of frightening and very uncomfortable symptoms. The craving to relieve the symptoms and get high is so intense that many users find themselves doing things they would not normally do in order to score their next hit. This may involve them resorting to theft, prostitution, neglect of children, violence, manipulation deceit or fraud. They then become prey to a vicious cycle of trying to block out the feelings of guilt and shame by using more Heroin. Oasis Recovery Communities Runcorn understands fully the nature of Heroin addiction; we offer a non-judgemental and free from temptation environment, for the individual to safely detox and recover both physically and mentally. We use only approved medications to assist with the withdrawal process and during this time they will be closely monitored and supported by medical and therapeutic staff. For those suffering with a long-standing or heavy addiction to Heroin we recommend a minimum of 12 weeks inpatient. This allows us the time frame to work with them intensively to treat their mind-set and subsequent behavioural issues. Neglecting to treat this part of the illness, and only instead treating the physical withdrawal, always inevitably ends up in relapse.

Some addicts, in an attempt to stop, will use a Heroin substitute prescribed by their local Drug and Alcohol team, such as Methadone or Subutex. However due to having temptation all around them, they can invariably end up using Heroin on top. This only increases the associated risks and makes it much more difficult for them to stop completely. We are able to detox patients who have more than one addiction, the detox tends to take longer to account for this. As a complete abstinence based rehab facility, our goal is to completely free the individual from their reliance and desire to use any kind of drug in the future, this includes substitutions that are prescribed in the community.

Heroin Addiction Effects

Heroin produces intense feelings of euphoria, well-being, warmth and relaxation. When it works well, it completely blocks the user from feeling any negative emotions at all. The intensity of the feeling each individual experiences, varies and will depend on the amount used, their tolerance to the drug, the purity of the drug and how it is administered.

Smoked in smaller doses, individuals may still be able to function and complete everyday tasks such as self-care and even hold down a job. In larger doses however, it will cause the user to slump and be very drowsy, they will not be able to function on the most basic of levels and are likely to neglect others as well as their own personal needs; to the point where eating and personal hygiene become secondary to getting high. On the other hand an individual who has a developed a high tolerance or physical dependence to Heroin will only be able to function once they have had their usual hit; their body and brain will have adapted to having the drug in its system. It may just be enough to stave off the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and allow them to go about their day. However, it is likely that they will be planning how to get their next hit of the drug; their whole life becomes focused on planning, plotting and getting Heroin. Not all Heroin users are of the variety of the stereotypical user. Some will be the opposite and may maintain order and productivity. They will use just enough of the drug to stop the onset of withdrawal symptoms from developing.

Others will reach such desperate depths in their addiction that they lose everything that they hold dear. They will have absolutely no control over their using. Heroin becomes their master and their life, nothing else seems to matter to them and they become oblivious to the devastating effects to family and loved ones. They are literally living to use and using to live. Heroin is powerfully addictive and once an individual crosses the line from recreational use to addictive use, they lose a grip on reality and lose everything of value, materialistically, emotionally, physically and spiritually. They make great personal sacrifices, hurt their loved ones continually and break their own code of morals as they become more and more entrenched in the behaviours and lifestyle of an active heroin addict.

The Signs and Symptoms of a Heroin User

If you are worried a family member, partner, friend or work colleague is using Heroin, It can be very helpful to know the signs and symptoms of Heroin addiction and the associated paraphernalia used to take the drug. Being armed with this information may give you the confidence needed to broach the subject with someone you care about who needs help:

Heroin Paraphernalia

Heroin smoker – The most common form of ingesting Heroin is by smoking it; it can be smoked off the foil or rolled with tobacco:

  • Tin foil – in folded square or long pieces
  • Pipe: shaped like a tobacco pipe
  • Any hollowed out long object used to inhale: pens, bongs, rolled cardboard
  • Heroin can also be smoked with rolling tobacco, using tobacco papers and a roach (small rolled pieces of cardboard or thick paper used to make a filter at the top of the home made cigarette)

Used items will often have scorch marks, soot and a brown or yellow residue on them

Heroin Injector

It is common for a Heroin user to progress to injecting Heroin for a greater and quicker effect once they have built tolerance to smoking. Paraphernalia associated with injecting Heroin are:

  • Needles
  • Items for buying the heroin in, commonly include small plastic bags, tin foil, wrapped cardboard or paper
  • Bent spoons
  • Packets of Citric Acid (A form of acid is required to break down the Heroin before it can be injected)
  • Packets of Vitamin C
  • Lemon, Ascorbic Acid
  • Cotton balls
  • Tourniquets (used to tighten the blood flow to the limb so that the veins come to the surface) examples are shoelaces, belts, long rubber bands

Again, used items will often have scorch marks, soot and a brown/yellow residue on them

Physical and Emotional Signs of Someone Who Is Using or Under The Influence of Heroin

Someone who is using Heroin may display some or all of the following symptoms, depending on the amount that they have used and the effect it has on them as an individual.

  • Restricted eye pupils (pin-prick pupils)
  • Droopy, Glassy red eyed
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Greying skin
  • Disinterest in physical appearance and hygiene
  • Small to medium bloodstains on clothing, bedding and furnishings
  • Spots and sores
  • Track marks (bruising and collapsing of veins where the user has injected)
  • Abscesses at injection sites
  • Scratch marks, opiates cause intense itching
  • Little or no appetite
  • Euphoria
  • Excitement
  • Sleepiness
  • Disinterested and uncaring attitude
  • Emotionless
  • Disappearing for days/weeks at a time
  • Not answering phone or door for long periods of time
  • Loss of interest in sex and personal relationships
  • Missing appointments and commitments
  • Financial difficulties
  • Slurred and slow speech
  • Impotence, numbness or lack of interest in sexual activity

Heroin – The Real Dangers

As a class A drug, personal possession of Heroin can carry a sentence of up to 7 years imprisonment. Possession with the intent to supply carries a very hefty sentence and will depend on the amount of Heroin the individual is caught with. As well as being illegal, there are very great and real health risks associated with using Heroin. If you are a Heroin user, you should be fully aware that each hit of Heroin carries the risk of:

  • Very rapid tolerance building
  • Death from overdose (those whom are using for the first time, use alone or have not used in a while are at greater risk of this of this happening)
  • Transmission of blood borne viruses such as Hepatitis B and C, HIV/AIDS
  • Abscesses
  • Gangrene
  • Collapsed veins
  • Malnutrition
  • Increased risk of contracting lung diseases and illnesses
  • Compromised respiratory system and slowed heart rate, leading to heart failure
  • Organ failure
  • Brain damage through lack of oxygen to the brain
  • Increased risk of accidents
  • Increased risk taking and dangerous behaviour
  • Association with other users, who would cause you harm to get money or take your drugs.

Addicted to Heroin?

There is a very simple test to determine if you have developed a physical dependence and tolerance to Heroin. If you go without the drug, you will develop crippling withdrawal symptoms within hours. Only a further hit of Heroin will relieve these symptoms. Those who can no longer gain a high by the original amount or method of administration will also have developed a tolerance. Heroin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Stomach cramps and diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Fever
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Hallucinations (audio, physical and visual)
  • Shaking and shivering
  • Chills
  • Flu and cold like symptoms
  • Sweating
  • Skin crawling and intense itching
  • Agitation and intolerance
  • Inability to keep still
  • Muscle spasms and cramps
  • Unable to focus or concentrate
  • Headache and tightness in head
  • Panic and anxiety
  • Unable to eat
  • Aches in the bones

Our Heroin Addiction Treatment Plan

Getting the right help and support for a Heroin addiction straight away can make the difference between life and death. Oasis Recovery Communities Runcorn are experts in treating addiction and can provide you or your loved one with a full medical detox and rehabilitation programme, tailored specifically to your individual treatment needs

We are passionate about saving those suffering from addiction. We will do all we can to help you into recovery and continue to assist you in rebuilding yourself and creating a drug free life.

The majority of our staff have themselves been affected by addiction; they know first hand what you are going through and the difficulties you will face in staying clean. Combining their personal experience with years of training and qualifications places them in a unique position to inspire and help you get well and stay in recovery.

Our residential treatment programmes include a Heroin detox, if required. We will provide around the clock support from our clinical team and support staff to ensure your safety and well being throughout. Alongside any medical Heroin detox you undergo with us, we strongly recommend a full rehabilitation programme. Our rehabilitation programmes are delivered by our highly skilled and qualified members of staff, including Counsellors and therapists, they are individually designed to treat the root causes of personal addiction.

We will do our upmost to ensure that all of your needs are met medically, emotionally and psychologically during your stay with us. In the event of outside additional help being required (such as psychiatric or educational needs), we can and will arrange that, to ensure you receive the best treatment possible and therefore a solid foundation for the rest of your recovery to build on. Our treatment plans incorporate a whole host of proven and very effective, powerful treatment methodologies. We have complete faith in our programme, our staff and our ability to help you to make a full and permanent recovery from Heroin addiction.

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Call Now 0203 131 5938

Call Now 0203 131 5938

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