What Is An Addict
The Latin origin of the word addict is chillingly appropriate to sell out, betray, become enslaved by. Addiction profoundly rewires the brain, allowing the addictive substance to exert such a powerful hold that an addict will continue addictive behavior regardless of the consequences. Loved ones and others who see an addicts life becoming ruined often find it impossible to understand why the addict doesnt just stop using.
Individuals dont start out using an addictive substance with addiction as a goal. Usually, they are seeking to dull physical or emotional pain or to deal with feelings or behaviors they deem as negative. But when addiction sets in, compulsions and cravings make it increasingly difficult to stop.
Prescription Opioids And Heroin
Prescription painkillers have become a gateway drug to heroin, so anyone who has been prescribed opioid medications can be susceptible to heroin use and addiction. The risk is greatest among those who have become dependent on prescription opioids or abused them. Prescription opioid abuse often starts about two years before a person turns to heroin.
People who are unable to finance their prescription opioid addiction or whose prescriptions have been cut off may resort to heroin use. This is because heroin produces a more distinct high for less money and is readily available. Due to its availability, affordability and link to prescription opioids, heroin addiction affects people from many backgrounds.
Can You Get Addicted
Yes, heroin is highly addictive. Over time, the effects of heroin on the brain can cause cravings and a strong drive to keep on using.
As heroin is used on a regular basis, the body builds up a tolerance, so that users have to start taking more and more.
Doctors have developed a number of effective ways to treat addiction to street heroin. These include using certain safer drugs to replace the street heroin, such as methadone and buprenorphine.
Other drugs that block the effects of heroin are available once you become drug-free. All these drug treatments are intended to supplement the counselling and social support thats normally needed to help in becoming drug-free and to recover from addiction.
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Withdrawing From Loved Ones
A heroin addict is a shell of the person they once were. This is what the drug does to people. If you notice that a family member has completely withdrawn from you, its possible they are using heroin. Heroin is the only thing that an addict thinks or cares about. The person in your life that is a heroin addict wont want to be near you and will avoid making eye contact. It will be hard to get through to them if you want to help them get addiction treatment.
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Physical Signs Of Heroin Use And Addiction
Carefully noticing the physical appearance of someone you suspect of heroin use is as effective as identifying behaviors, smells, and sounds. There are a number of physical symptoms caused by the drug itself which include:
- Tiny, pinpoint pupils
- Sleepiness, a tendency to nod off
- Slow breathing
- Runny nose or itchy nose
- Lack of appetite and weight loss
Indications of changes in behavior are also associated with heroin use. These may occur only when the individual is under the influence, or they may result from longer-term issues with self care or even from self harm.
- Track marks on arms or top of hands or wrists
- Scabs and sores from picking at skin
- Covering arms with long sleeves
- Not bathing
- Eating large amounts of sweets
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Effects Of Orally Ingesting Cocaine
Some people take cocaine orally by rubbing it on the gums or mixing it in a drink. Others wrap powder cocaine in a small piece of toilet paper or tissue and swallow it. This method of use is sometimes called parachuting or bombing.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, consuming cocaine by mouth can cause severe bowel decay.
Cocaine smugglers and drug dealers sometimes swallow large amounts of cocaine in condoms or balloons to hide it from law enforcement. The packets can easily break open inside the body and cause a fatal cocaine overdose.
The Cycle Of Addictive Thinking
Anxiety, depression, and irritabilitythese are all struggles that people juggle and tussle with on a daily basis. No one is comfortable with these feelings, and they are among the most problematic mindsets that addicts face. In order to numb these feelings, some people may abuse drugs: alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine, or even medical drugs.
There are multiple reasons that addicts deal with conditions such as anxiety and depression. While some reasons may be related to current events such as job or relationship status, others can tie to their past. Many individuals who struggle with drug addiction also share a common link of neglect in childhood.
This past abuse can impact basic skills such as social interaction and production in hormones such as dopamine. To counteract these problems, addicts will abuse drugs to create certain highs they lack.
Because of this, addicts often fail to see the issues with drug abuse such as memory loss, emotional instability, and physical health. For many, the pros may outweigh the cons, or they may even be completely unaware of them.
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Changes In Physical Appearance
Many friends or family members notice a problem when their loved one begins to rapidly lose weight from heroin use. They may appear to be sick or have a runny nose often and their pupils might constantly look dilated. In addition to track marks, they may bruise easily and even frequently pick at their own skin.
Effects Of Heroin Use
Heroin is metabolized to morphine and other metabolites which bind to opioid receptors in the brain.
- After an injection, the user reports feeling a surge of euphoria accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth, and heavy extremities.
- Following this initial euphoria, the user experiences an alternately wakeful and drowsy state.
- Mental functioning becomes clouded due to the depression of the central nervous system.
- The short-term effects of abuse appear soon after a single dose and disappear in a few hours.
Other effects can include respiratory depression, constricted pupils and nausea. Effects of overdose may include slow and shallow breathing, hypotension, blue lips and nails, muscle spasms, convulsions, coma, and possible death.
Intravenous use is complicated by other issues such as the sharing of contaminated needles, the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and toxic reactions to impurities.
Other medical complications that may arise include:
- collapsed veins
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Why Are More People Using Heroin
The number of people in the United States who use heroin has risen steadily since 2007.
One thing that plays a role in the rise is the growing abuse of prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, which are also made from the poppy plant and are chemically related to heroin. People who misuse these drugs may start looking for a stronger, cheaper high. Heroin is both. But it’s also more dangerous. Thereâs no way to know what youâre taking or how strong it is.
The U.S. heroin overdose death rate rose nearly 400% between 2010 and 2017. Some of these deaths happen because heroin is laced with other drugs, such as the powerful painkiller fentanyl.
Behavioral Heroin Addiction Symptoms
Many of these signs and symptoms arent exclusive to heroin abuse. They may indicate any kind of drug abuse. However, if you notice these in combination with other signs and symptoms here, heroin is likely involved.
Short-term behavioral signs of heroin addiction include:
- Slower movements
- Wearing long-sleeved shirts to hide needle track marks
- Lying, evading, or other deceptive behavior
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Heroin Addiction Treatment & Rehab
The physical and behavioral signs of heroin addiction can motivate concerned individuals to stage an intervention or find another effective way to lead the addicted person to a rehab program.In some cases, legal troubles can lead to rehab as an alternative to a prison sentence or as a condition of probation post-incarceration. Regardless of the path to rehab, there is an exceptional need for recovery services when heroin abuse is concerned.
Privacy And Money Issues
The beginning of heroin addiction often brings symptoms that are behavioral. One of the first signs is that a person will suddenly seek more privacy than before. The need for alone time can be an indicator that they are looking to hide drug use.
They also may be suddenly be running short on money. If they are spending their money on heroin, that can quickly add up. You might notice they are asking to borrow money a lot. Or perhaps they start selling off their personal possessions.
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Work To Get Them Into Treatment
Acceptance of ones addiction is the first step to recovery. The next step is finding comprehensive help to provide an addict with the tools they need to get clean and stay that way.
If you have a family member or friend struggling with addiction, the end game you should always be working towards is getting them into recovery.
There are a lot of options when it comes to rehab. Inpatient programs offer comprehensive onsite treatment. Outpatient programs offer addicts the flexibility they need to manage their lives and get healthy.
Whatever option is best for your friend or family member, do everything you can to support them in their discovering the rehab program thats right for them.
What Are The Effects Of Heroin
Short-term effects of heroin include:
- Arms and legs that feel heavy
- Upset stomach and vomiting
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence: “Helping a Family Member or Friend.”
Nemours Foundation: “Heroin: What Parents Need to Know.”
NIH Medline Plus: “Heroin.”
NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse: “Heroin Addiction” and “Signs of Heroin Abuse and Addiction.”
Partnership for a Drug-Free America: “Heroin” and “Heroin Overdose Antidote Naloxone Becoming More Widely Available.”
Robert Crown Center for Health Education: “Understanding Suburban Heroin Use.”
University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions: “RIA Reaching Out to Others: The Growing Peril of Heroin.”
U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: “Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings.”
News release, FDA.
U.S. News & World Report: “The Heroin Epidemic, in 9 Graphs.”
National Institute on Drug Abuse: âHeroin Research Report,â âDrug Facts: Heroin,â âOpioid Overdose Reversal with Naloxone .â
National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens: âHeroin.â
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Heroin Dependence And Tolerance
As with some other drugs, a person can build up a tolerance to heroin. After only a short time, the person using heroin will need to take larger doses to achieve the same effect. Soon their body will start to depend on heroin in order to function normally.For some people who are dependent on heroin, nothing else in life matters except the drug. They may ignore their career, relationships and even basic needs like eating. Financial, legal and other personal problems may be related to heroin use. The person craves the drug and this psychological dependence makes them panic if they cannot have it, even temporarily.
Effects Of Snorting Cocaine
Snorting cocaine can cause severe nasal problems. It makes blood vessels in the nose constrict, cutting off oxygen flow to the nasal tissues. Other chemicals that dealers add to cocaine can also irritate the lining of the nose. Inhaling cocaine can lead to infections of the nasal and oral cavities.
Typical symptoms of snorting cocaine include:
- Frequent colds or sinus problems
- Difficulty swallowing
When people snort cocaine for a long time, the nose can collapse. Holes can form in the roof of the mouth, and other parts of the face can become damaged. Approximately 5 percent of people who snort the drug will eventually develop a hole in their nasal septum, the wall of tissue that divides the two sides of the nose.
While some people snort lines of cocaine off tables, mirrors of other hard surfaces, others prefer to snort the drug off a longer fingernail, usually on the pinky finger. A so-called coke nail can serve both as a shovel and snorting surface.
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One Week To Several Months
Especially if someone was a long-time user of heroin, the heroin withdrawal timeline may be longer as some psychological symptoms persist. During this time, someone may still struggle with insomnia and experience anxiety, irritability, or depression. If these symptoms do not go away or get worse, co-occurring disorder treatment may be necessary.
Even if the majority of your symptoms only last a week, trying to detox from heroin at home can be overwhelming. Because of the severity of the cravings and the associated symptoms, many people will relapse during withdrawal if they dont have the proper support.
Heroin And The Opioid System
To better understand what heroin does in, and to, the brain, it is necessary to first look at the drug itself. Heroin is synthesized from a combination of the opium poppy and morphine. This makes heroin an opiate like any opiate, it targets the naturally occurring opioid receptors in the brain.
The opioid system in the human body is responsible for regulating pain, as well as controlling how a person experiences the sensation and anticipation of being rewarded. This makes opioids a double-edged sword whether found in nature or isolated and derived in a lab , opiates are very effective painkillers, but they can also be very addictive.
All opioids work the same way in the brain, but the chemistry behind heroin makes it act much faster than most kinds of similar drugs. If heroin is injected into a vein, it takes only 10 seconds for the bloodstream to carry heroin to the brain. When the opioid hits the receptors, the drug binds to specific molecules in the receptors, which are linked to how the brain processes the sensations of pain and pleasure.
The immediate effect of a powerful drug like heroin binding to those molecules is a surge of euphoria and pleasure, giving way to a feeling of supreme tranquility that can last for hours. Healthline describes it as a warm blanket on the brain. Pain, meanwhile, is dulled or completely forgotten.
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They Engage In Criminal Acts
When someone becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, their value systems take a back seat to right and wrong. Essentially, the screaming brain compels them to do whatever it takes to find life-sustaining drugs.
A teen who never got into trouble may suddenly start having run-ins with the law.
The quest to satisfy the survival part of the brain can lead them to do illegal things they would have never considered before, such as:
- Stealing prescription pills from the medicine cabinets, purses, and homes of relatives, neighbors, or family friends.
- Lying about pain or causing self-injury to get prescriptions.
- Doctor shopping to try and get more prescriptions written.
- Forging prescriptions.
- Shoplifting valuable items to sell or pawn.
- Getting drug money by turning tricks or selling drugs.
- Injecting heroin.
The teen you previously thought incapable of even cheating on a test at school may suddenly find herself with an arrest record and a long line of people whose trust shes lost.
The 5 Most Common Behavior Traits Of An Addict
The behavior of an addicted person is baffling, frustrating, frightening and sad. The power of addictive substances is so strong that many people are overwhelmed by it. Their actions and words are dictated by their need for more drugs but those who know and love him may not be able to understand why they are acting the way they are. Without realizing that drug use is behind the odd, erratic, abusive or criminal behavior youre looking at, the mystery may continue for years.
There are a few people who can be addicted to drugs or alcohol and continue to function at a job or in society. Almost no one can succeed equally in all areas of life. The stress will show up somewhere and often, thats behind closed doors. Thus, wives, children, siblings and parents may see the worst of his behavior while co-workers or friends may think things are fine for quite a while longer.
When someone you love is addicted, the truth is very hard to face. Youre not alone in having a hard time dealing with the personality and morality changes of the one you love. This list is provided to help you separate fact from fantasy. Once you know whats going on, you can make better decisions and take the right actions.
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Learn About Heroin Addiction And Substance Abuse
Heroin is a street opioid narcotic thats derived from morphine, which is a naturally-occurring substance taken from the seed pods of the opium poppy plant. Opiates are a class of legally prescribed medications that offer powerful analgesic properties that help many people who have chronic pain to lead a more productive life. All opiates, including heroin, have a high potential for abuse and physical dependence. People who use heroin often start by snorting or smoking the drug, which produces intense feelings of euphoria and happiness without the risks of injecting the drug. As physical dependence develops, however, people who snort or smoke heroin may begin injecting heroin into their veins as a means for a more powerful high. Class IV drug use of any IV drug carries tremendous health risks, including exposure to and infection with blood borne pathogens, including chronic conditions such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
Heroin is a highly addictive drug that poses incredible danger for adolescents the abuse of heroin can lead to serious social, educational, psychological, and legal consequences, as well as a multitude of health-related problems.