Posted on

Heroin Overdose Effects

Heroin Overdose Effects

Summary of Heroin

Heroin Overdose Effects

Heroin is an incredibly addictive substance classified as an opioid, and is derived from the opium plant. It comes particularly from the opium poppy seed and is located in Southeast or Southwest Asia, Mexico or Columbia. The effects of using heroin can be life-threatening if the case is severe. Individuals that take heroin can end up being addicted, because of its’ overwhelming high feeling as well as euphoria that it creates in a person’s body while using it.

“Although heroin use in the general population is rather low, the numbers of people starting to use heroin have been steadily rising since 2007”

Heroin was first introduced in 1898 by a firm in Germany called Bayer Pharmaceutical and was marketed as a therapy for tuberculosis in addition to a treatment for morphine dependency. It was meant to be a better option for trouble with opium addiction. It was soon learned that morphine dependency was a much worse problem than opium dependency.

Side Effects of Heroin Use

The effects of heroin can take place soon after one single dosage and last for approximately a couple of hours. The way that heroin is used will affect how quickly it goes into the body. Typically, injecting heroin right into your blood vessels or muscle mass will generate a quicker “high” than by snorting or smoking it.

The preliminary side effects consist of:

  • Preliminary ecstasy and also a rush
  • Itchiness of the skin
  • Flushing in the skin
  • Heavy extremities
  • Dry mouth
  • Impaired psychological state
  • Drowsiness

Heroin Overdose

Overdose Effects of Heroin

A serious and also dangerous risk of heroin use is to overdose. When someone takes heroin, it starts to depress a person’s heart rate and breathing rate to the point that they will not have the ability to survive without the assistance of a physician.

“In 2015, over 13,000 people died of heroin overdoses in the United States. Heroin is sold illegally, so there is no control over the quality or strength of the drug. Also, it is sometimes mixed with other poisonous substances.”

An overdose can take place with someone that uses heroin one-time, or it can occur with an addict who uses heroin frequently. Most people who use heroin take it in conjunction with other medications such as pain medications or alcohol. The combination of these sorts of medications can be very hazardous, as well as trigger problems or overdose to happen.

It can be difficult to identify the difference between someone being truly “high” on heroin and an individual that may be overdosing from heroin. A person who is “high” will present dilated pupils, sluggishness, slurred speech and drowsiness. In spite of these signs and symptoms, they typically will respond to other stimulation such as loud noises or a person shaking them.

If you think a person you know is dealing with a heroin overdose, it is necessary to not leave them alone and to call a professional staff member from a heroin treatment center.

Signs of Overdose

  • Loss of awareness
  • Pulse (heartbeat) is slow-moving or irregular
  • Fingernails and lips turn blue or purple black
  • For lighter skinned people, the complexion transforms blue purple, for darker skinned individuals, it turns grayish
  • Unresponsive to outside stimulation
  • Face is pale or clammy
  • Body is limp
  • Awake, however unable to speak
  • Vomiting
  • Breathing is slow as well as shallow, irregular, or has actually stopped
  • Choking noises, or a snore-like gurgling noise

Withdrawal of Heroin

Withdrawals from heroin can be unpleasant because of the symptoms that occur from the lack of the drug in the body. Even if your withdrawal signs are not extreme, you will likely have a much more comfortable experience with them in a heroin therapy center as opposed to attempting to manage them at home on your own.

Some of the symptoms of withdrawal can consist of:

  • Seizures
  • Muscular aches or bone pain
  • Hallucinations
  • Restlessness
  • Looseness of the bowels
  • Throwing up
  • Cold flashes with goose bumps
  • High-blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Extreme clinical depression

Addiction to Heroin

Heroin is one of one of the most hazardous and also dangerous drugs that is out there, and although it is reasonably inexpensive, people will spend a significant amount of money each day to maintain their habit of using the substance.

“Out of everyone who tries heroin for the first time, nearly one in four become addicted”

Heroin works by creating chemicals in the brain that create overwhelming “high” feelings from greater quantities of dopamine and endorphins. The brain then, determines that these chemicals are triggering this boost in arousal and therefor causing it to yearn for more to acquire the same results. This, coupled with the uneasy withdrawal symptoms that can happen when stopping the drug, can cause individuals to have a tough time quitting their heroin habit.

Treatment for Heroin

Treatment for addiction to heroin will call for several kinds of therapy consisting of behavioral therapy, support groups, lifestyle adjustments and also perhaps medication. There are inpatient and outpatient treatment programs available that will help treat a dependency to heroin.

“Due to the symptoms of withdrawal and the psychological grip heroin has on its users, a treatment center usually offers the best chances of a successful recovery.”

People that struggle with heroin addiction commonly have co-occurring disorder that call for a dual diagnosis and special therapy in order to help them achieve success with their recovery.

Types of Therapy for Heroin

Behavior modifications

Consulting with a therapist or medical professional can help establish the reason behind the dependency and also helps develop appropriate coping techniques and approaches to avoid using the drug.

Inpatient or Residential Therapy

The highest rate of success for heroin treatment is usually a person that goes to an inpatient therapy facility where they get 24-7 treatment by skilled professionals and support groups. This allows the person to have the necessary assistance when resolving the feelings around their dependency.

Support Groups

12-step programs and other support meetings are available to assist a person going through an addiction problem by helping the person understand that they are not alone, as well as other individuals who have gone through a similar circumstance.


Some drugs will alleviate the pains associated with withdrawal from heroin or help replace it while a person gets appropriate treatment and can give up the drug completely.

If you or a person you know needs assistance with a heroin dependency, please contact a residential treatment facility right away to get the necessary help you need to become sober and clean from drugs.

Posted on

Addicts Share How They Got Addicted To Opioids

Stories of opioid addicts on FRONTLINE

In Their Own Words

FRONTLINE logoFrontline, producer of countless documentaries, asked their viewers to share with them their own stories of addiction to opioids.  The results offer an unvarnished and raw look into what opioid and opiate addicts go through.  How they got addicted, and how they turned their lives around, and unfortunately how some are still tangled in drug addiction.

We’ve collected some of those responses here and hope they will act as a warning to some, and an inspiration to others.

Stories of opioid addicts on FRONTLINE
Stories of opioid addicts on FRONTLINE

How I Got Addicted to Opioids

Emily from Rochester

It doesn’t always begin with a conscious choice to become a junkie, and it certain isn’t just a poor, under-privileged minority problem. I was raised in a white, middle- to upper- class suburb and am well-educated with a masters degree and my opiate addiction began with prescriptions from my doctor who one day decided to stop writing the prescriptions without any instruction or attempts to wean me off even though I had been taking opiates for years. Physically dependent, I had no choice but to either be sick or self-medicate.

Already in pain from the fibromyalgia and arthritis that had been the reason I was taking the pills to begin with, I was not going to suffer through a withdrawal so bad that I thought I was dying as well. So I bought pills on the streets. When it got too expensive to keep buying pills and with supplies not always being consistent, I turned to heroin. I am a perfect example of how addiction does not discriminate.

K.M. who started off using opioids for pain

For opioids, the entry is to manage real pain. For me, a near fatal bicycle wreck broke my back and every bone in my skull. Thus, real pain results from real trauma. Enter painkillers. Enter dependence to not only chase away the pain, but to invite the velvet, where for a moment, there is no more fear, no more anger at the injury, only the velvet lie of a fleeting potion that over time, steals more than it heals.

And then you are back to the beginning, what to do about the pain?

Someone from Toledo, Ohio who has overcome addiction

You can become addicted to prescription opioids and not even realize you have a problem, till it’s too late. In the haze of the high and loved ones saying they’re worried about you, you lie to yourself and them and say you need the pills, that the doctor wouldn’t give you something that would hurt you, that you need them or the pain will be unbearable. So you pull away from everyone so they don’t see you high. Not realizing you are not just taking the medicine for pain — you now need it daily to just to get out of bed. Without it, you’re physically sick. Your whole body hurts, and you know the answer to fix it all is the opioids.

I stopped using, I got help and got to see there is still life left to live. My younger brother passed in December 2014 from a combined drug intoxication and heroin was one of the drugs that helped take his life along with prescription drugs. He lost his battle but I am fighting it in his name to try and help bring this front and center, and let people know there is help out there, there is life after all this. They have to want to get clean, more than they want to get high.

Brittney who has been sober since 2014

This opioid addiction is terrifying to an outsider looking in, but as a user it seems natural and normal. People don’t wish to be this… it seems to just happen. No one grows up saying, “When I grow up I want to be a drug addict.” I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I’m a person in long term recovery. …It means I haven’t had a drink or drug since February 23, 2014.

I was that hopeless broken girl, the girl with no purpose, no goals, no values. I felt as though I didn’t matter, I didn’t have a voice, and I would just die a “junkie.” I hated myself and thought “people would be better without me.” I had goals and dreams, I had a great family and friends, I had the world at my hands and I traded it first for a pill that later turned into a needle. The needle took me to a whole new world of addiction. It took my morals and values away. It took my family and friends; it took my education, my purpose. Lastly, it took me.

Heroin changed me into this “other” person. When looking in the mirror I didn’t recognize my reflection, I no longer was the girl I knew. …At the end my family was done, they couldn’t take it any longer. I got an ultimatum get sober or get out. I always thought they hated me but I was wrong. I decided I couldn’t live as an active user any longer. I’ve changed my life around. I work in the field of addiction and I’m a student… taking classes for my drug and alcohol license. I work in a recovery home for women. I see how powerful this disease really is from a different perspective and it’s scary. I had so many great accomplishments in a short amount of time. I’ve rebuilt important relationships that I broke. I worked really hard to get to this point in my life.

Advice? Never lose hope in a person with substance abuse disorder.

The best part of my job is seeing that broken lost girl find her voice and purpose in life just as I did. Seeing the light come back into a girl’s face and seeing her shine. I think because there are so many unsuccessful and sad stories out there we miss the successful stories. The stories with hope attached to them. The stories where mothers and children are being reunited, the stories where women are standing on their own two feet and working towards goals and achieving them, the stories where that broke lost girl finds her way and makes it. These are the stories of hope, if you look hard enough they’re on every corner… Advice? Never lose hope in a person with substance abuse disorder.

There is Hope For Opioid and Opiate Addicts

What we can learn from these folks is there is always hope.  No one is doomed, no matter how bad their addiction has become.  If you’re struggling with opioid addiction or abuse, reach out for help.  Most every community has organizations dedicated to helping those with addiction problems.  And our National Opiate Hotline is here 24/7 staffed by people who can provide guidance and help you determine treatment options and opportunities.  1-888-784-6641

Learn more: Opiate Hotline Heroin Facts

And our report on The Difference Between Opioids and Opiates

Posted on

The Difference Between Opioids and Opiates

Overdose and death statistics

Overdose and death statistics
Overdose and death statistics

Opiates are drugs developed from opium.

At one time “opioids” referred to synthetic opiates only .  Currently the term Opioid is used for the broader family of opiates including natural, synthetic and semi-synthetic. Clinical professionals use the word opioid to refer to most opioids, and opiate for a specific non-synthetic opioid.  We typically uses “opioid” to refer to all opioids and opiates.

There are four broad classes of opioids:

Natural Opiates

The drugs on the opiates list come from the alkaloid materials found in the opium poppy seed plant.  Opium poppy seed plants contain a high concentration of morphine-derived alkaloids, which accounts for why morphine is one of the strongest opiates known. Codeine-derived alkaloids make up the second highest concentration.

Natural opiate drug types include

  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Oripavine
  • Thebaine

Synthetic Opiate Drugs

The synthetic opiates are manufactured drugs and they are intended for treating pain symptoms. Though manufactured to resemble natural alkaloid substances, these synthetic drugs are considerably higher potency than natural alkaloids.

Synthetic opiate drug types include:

  • Lortab
  • Demerol
  • Atarax
  • Dilaudid
  • Fentanyl
  • Methadone
  • Suboxone
  • Subutex
  • Naltrexone
  • Naloxone

Semi-synthetic Opiates

Semi-synthetic opiates contain a small amount of natural opium alkaloids combined with synthetic agents. The semi-synthetic opiates drug types include:

  • Oxycodone
  • Oxymorphone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Hydrocodone

The natural alkaloids used in the making of semi-synthetic opiates include:

  • Codeine – for hydrocodone
  • Morphine – for hydromorphone
  • Thebaine – for oxymorphone and oxycodone

Summary and video on the Differences Between Opioids and Opiates

Understanding these drugs, their differences, similarities and potency helps us to address the abuse and addiction to opioids.  We have also included and educational video from the The Drug Classroom (TDC) which will shed even more light on these drugs. Drugs are never going to leave our society and there has never been a society free from drugs but stemming the tide of drug abuse and drug addiction is something we can do.

And note, if you are a loved one is tangled in opioid abuse or addiction there is help. Our hotline is answered 24/7 and we can help give you some guidance and possibly help you get the treatment you need.  Call now. 1-888-784-6641

Also read the National Opiate Hotline Heroin  Facts

Posted on

Opiate Hotline Heroin Facts

Heroin being prepared to inject

Heroin being prepared to inject
Heroin being prepared to inject

What is Heroin?

  • Heroin is an opioid drug derived from morphine, a natural substance found in the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant.  It is a highly addictive opioid and responsible for thousands of addicts, overdoses and deaths in the USA.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse there was a six fold increase in heroin related deaths from 2002 to 2015.  Heroin and related opioid and opiate overdoses and emergency room stays are at an all time high.  The problems caused by addiction can be horrendous and the financial burden to buy drugs to feed a heroin addiction is daunting.  As bad as opioid and opiate addiction can be there is always hope for the person who is ready to make a change and turn their back on drug addiction.

What does heroin look like?

Heroin is found in several forms:

  1. White powder
  2. Brown powder
  3. Black, sticky substance known as black tar heroin

What are common names for heroin?

  1. Dope
  2. Horse
  3. Junk
  4. Smack

How do people consume heroin?

  1. Smoke
  2. Inject
  3. Snort
  4. Sometimes mixed with cocaine and is called a “speed ball

How does heroin affect someone?

When heroin enters the brain it actually changes back into morphine.  It binds to opioid receptors on brain cells, especially those involved in feelings of pain and pleasure.  It causes:

  1. Strong, feelings of euphoria
  2. Heavy feelings in the hands and feet
  3. Clouded and impaired mental functioning
  4. Dry mouth

What are the long term affects of heroin use?

  1. Likelihood of becoming addicted
  2. Collapsed veins
  3. Lung complications
  4. Abscesses
  5. Infection of the heart lining and valves
  6. Possible overdose

Heroin overdose statistics
Heroin overdose statistics

What happens during heroin withdrawal?

  1. Muscle and bone aches
  2. Sleeplessness
  3. Diarrhea and vomiting
  4. Cold flashes with goose bumps
  5. Uncontrollable leg spasms
  6. Severe heroin cravings

How are heroin overdoses treated?

Typically Naloxone is the medicine used to treat heroin overdose, it should be given as quickly as possible.

How heroin addicts recover

The first thing an addict does to begin their road to recovery is admit they have a problem and cultivate a strong desire to quit.  National Opiate Hotline strongly recommends speaking with a doctor or qualified and experienced medical professional.  Ending a heroin addiction can pose health risks because heroin is so toxic to the body and addictive, so talk to a medical professional.  It’s ideal that an addict gets involved in some sort of treatment.

Heroin treatment paths include:

  • Out patient counseling
  • In patient counseling
  • Day treatment
  • Free support groups like Narcotics Anonymous

Don’t be a statistic. If you or a loved one is tangled in heroin use or addiction the National Opiate Hotline is here to help provide guidance.  The call is free and we’re here 24/7. 1-888-784-6641



Posted on

Drug overdose deaths in the United States continue to increase

Heroin overdose statistics

Opioids, opiates and heroin continue to dominate the cause of overdose deaths in the USA.  The CDC (Center for Disease Control) report that 91 Americans die each day from opioid (including heroin and prescription drugs).  They recently also noted:

  • The percentage increase of drug overdose deaths among adults aged 55-64 rose from 4.2 per 100,000 in 1999 to 21.8 in 2015.

  • In 2015, adults aged 45-54 had the highest death rate from drug overdose at 30 deaths per 100,000.


Deaths from opiate and drug overdose graphic
Deaths from opiate and drug overdose

The lack of treatment opportunities is a leading cause.  Michael Botticelli, the former White House Director of National Drug Control Policy, recently said, “The prescription opioid and heroin epidemic continues to devastate communities and families across the country…in large part because too many people still do not get effective substance use disorder treatment.”

The lack of treatment options and uncertainty about health  coverage keeps many addicts from seeking treatment and recovery.  Sadly, many addicts come to view themselves as being hopeless and beyond redemption.

Opiate Hotline knows addicts can get clean and sober and turn their lives around.  We hope our government does more to help the addict and the stigma of seeking help will be lifted.