Heroin Addiction: Signs, Symptoms and Rehab Treatment

What is Heroin?

Heroin is a powerful and addictive drug that derives from opium. It produces an intense euphoria and is commonly abused in the UK. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder, which can be snorted, smoked, injected or swallowed. It provides users instantaneous feelings of pleasure, elation, excitement and happiness.

The British Approved Name (BAN) for heroin is Diamorphine, while the International Nonproprietary Name (INN) for heroin is Diacetylmorphine. Notably, addicts and suppliers don’t refer to the drug as ‘heroin’ or indeed use its pharmaceutical names, so as not to raise suspicion; instead, they use street names for heroin, such as:

  • Big H
  • Boy
  • Brown
  • Dope
  • Dark
  • Junk
  • Horse
  • Skag
  • Smack
  • White Girl

Heroin Abuse: Key Facts

Heroin addiction is a menacingly frequent disease that claims thousands of lives every year. Heroin abusers cut across all social and economic strata, because of its high rate of availability and relative affordability.

From 2016 to date, roughly 54% of all deaths related to drug poisoning involved the use of heroin. In 2016 alone, 1209 deaths involving heroin use were registered. This is a slight increase from the 1201 deaths involving heroin registered in 2015.

The UK experienced a 12% increase in the number of female deaths involving heroin use. Age-wise, the highest increase was seen in people aged 40-49 years old. The number of heroin users aged 40 and over starting treatment has also shown an upward trend.

It’s believed that these people have been using heroin for a significantly long period of time. They often have a range of complex physical illnesses as a result of long-term drug abuse, which can make them particularly vulnerable.

Effects of Heroin Addiction

Heroin binds to opioid receptors in the brain, leading to a release of dopamine and other neurotransmitters, which in turn gives rise to all-around feelings of euphoria, pleasure and relaxation. Once the brain encounters these opioids, it is less likely to produce its own. Because of this, the brain reduces how much serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters it produces, as they are being artificially released due to heroin use. This affects the opioid receptors and the risk/reward system in the brain, while the serotonin produced causes dependence and subsequent addiction to the drug.

Some short-term effects include:

  • An initial euphoric rush
  • Slowed heart rate after the initial rush
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heaviness of limbs
  • Clouded thinking
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Feelings of well-being and relaxation
  • Calmness
  • Sedation
  • Elated mood
  • Absence of pain

Signs and Symptoms of Abuse

In the long run, heroin’s effects upon the lives of its users are devastating. The impact of heroin abuse on both physical and mental health is serious and long-lasting.

Injecting heroin can cause great damage to blood vessels, including collapsed veins and infections; this can prove fatal if the injection is not conducted effectively. Long-term intravenous abuse of heroin can lead to arthritis and a higher risk of contracting diseases like HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis.

Heroin addiction is equally devastating to the addict’s mental health and gives rise to feelings of loneliness, depression, worthlessness and hopelessness. Long-term heroin use can also cause a loss of short and long-term memory.

At the onset of heroin abuse, there are some tell-tale signs that can alert concerned family members or friends that there could be a case of abuse. They include:

  • Presence of drug apparatus
  • Track marks or needle marks on the body
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Use of street slang related to heroin
  • Burned silver spoons
  • Loss of menstrual cycle in women (amenorrhea)
  • Wearing long pants or long sleeves to hide needle marks
  • Constricted pupils
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lack of interest in hobbies and favourite activities
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Spending more time with new acquaintances

Treating Heroin Addiction

There’s a wide range of treatment approaches to tackle heroin addiction. Over time, the most effective course of action is a combination of rehab, ongoing therapy with bespoke treatment plans, and in some cases, prescribed medication. The first step is detoxification, followed by therapy, which addresses the root cause of the addiction. In some cases, medication is also applied to make the withdrawal phase easier to bear.

Rehab can be undertaken on either an inpatient or outpatient basis. However, inpatient or private heroin rehab centres are the best in helping you recover from heroin addiction. At Primrose Lodge, on top of our medically supervised heroin detox, we provide physical, psychological and emotional assistance to help meet your spiritual needs.

Another important treatment tool for heroin addiction is therapy. The root cause of addiction can only be dealt with via comprehensive therapy in order to prevent relapse. We offer various therapy models and holistic programmes such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Motivational Therapy (MT), sleep and nutrition management, and other remedies which have proven efficient in treating heroin addiction, thereby helping you ‘stay clean’ and preventing long-term relapse.

Withdrawal and Detoxification Process

It’s not advisable for a heroin addict to detox alone, as withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening and could trigger a relapse. When you attempt to quit alone by going ‘cold turkey’, your body and brain go into abrupt shock, which in turn triggers unpleasant physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal and detox processes need to be managed and monitored by clinical medical staff.

At Primrose Lodge, during your detox at our facility, our physicians assess you, then prescribe an approved medication to substitute and counter the effects of heroin. The dosage is continually reduced, so that by the time the detox is complete, you will be completely drug-free. Also, our counsellors and therapists work with you to heal your mind, body and spirit.

If you or a loved one are suffering from heroin addiction, we can help you make a full recovery and live a healthy, drug-free life. At Primrose Lodge, we specialise in detox programmes and inpatient treatment for heroin addicts to detox and remain abstinent in a calm and serene environment, under the supervision of experienced, professional staff.

Call us now at 0203 553 9263 to discuss your treatment options.

Don't waste another day on addiction
Call Now 0203 553 9263
Call Now 0203 553 9263

Call Now 0203 553 9263

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  • Perry Hill
  • Worplesdon
  • Guildford
  • Surrey GU3 3RF