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man struggling with heroin addictionHeroin is an opioid, a drug originally derived from the poppy plant to help manage pain. Heroin and other opioids are prescribed as strong pain medications but are also used recreationally as well. Heroin can be smoked, snorted, or injected; the goal is to get the drug into the bloodstream and ultimately the brain. In the brain, heroin converts to morphine and binds to opioid receptors in the brain, relieving pain and spreading euphoria. Repeated heroin abuse can result in disruption in what is called the reward pathway, the brain functions that control motivation, reward-seeking, and the perception of pleasure. It is this disruption that makes heroin an incredibly addictive substance. Nearly 1 in 4 people who try heroin will suffer from opioid addiction. In recent years, heroin use has increased dramatically in a number of populations, among men and women, across most age groups, and all income levels. The opioid epidemic and the increase in heroin abuse disorders go hand in hand as 4 in 5 new heroin users had already abused prescription painkillers before trying heroin. However, help for heroin addiction is available.

TruHealing Centers has a heroin addiction treatment program that is effective and comprehensive. If you or a loved one is stuck in the endless cycle of heroin addiction, we can help. Our treatment plans are designed specifically for each person in recovery, and we are ready to create a plan that addresses your unique needs in treatment. To discover more about our programs and therapy options, reach out to our team today by calling 833.631.0525 or completing our online contact form.

Signs of Heroin Abuse

Physical signs of heroin abuse include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Dry mouth
  • Shortness of breath
  • Erratic behavior or disorientation
  • Drowsiness or “nodding off” t
  • Track marks on arms
  • Shaking
  • Slurred words
  • Nausea or vomiting,
  • Constant itching and scabs
  • Drastic weight loss

Keep in mind that not all signs of heroin abuse are physical. Some of the behavioral signs of heroin abuse are:

  • Trouble at work or school
  • Lying about drug use
  • Financial or legal issues
  • Repeated borrowing or theft of money
  • Lack of motivation or lethargy
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Disheveled appearance
  • Lack of attention to personal hygiene
  • Increase in time spent sleeping
  • Lower self-esteem or body image
  • Erratic or hostile behavior
  • Wearing long sleeves when inappropriate (to hide track marks)

Nodding Off

Nodding off is a common phrase used to describe someone who just took heroin. It becomes immediately apparent that this person is high. Breathing becomes more shallow, muscles go slack, and you appear to fall in and out of sleep. Even while awake, you can not react to the world around you. You might feel good, but this is an incredibly dangerous situation. Nodding off can be an early sign of an overdose. Even if you haven’t taken a lethal dose and just took your regular dose, nodding off can lead to death. Without control of your body, you drift in and out of sleep, which can put you in a dangerous position, with your airway compromised. Heroin often makes you nauseous and causes you to vomit, which can block your airways. The strain on your body, from the drugs and your position, can be deadly.

Symptoms of Withdrawal

Each individual faces different withdrawal symptoms, depending on many factors, including how long they were using heroin, how they were ingesting the drug, how often they were taking it, and other individual factors. Withdrawal symptoms can start 6-12 hours from the last time you used and peak 24-72 hours from that time. Acute withdrawal symptoms generally begin to subside after 7 days but can last longer depending on several factors.

Heroin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Shaking
  • Dilated pupils
  • Slurred words
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Cramps
  • Tearing
  • Runny nose
  • Sweats and chills
  • Yawning or drowsiness
  • Muscle or bone aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hypertension
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Muscle spasms
  • Impaired respiration
  • Difficulty feeling pleasure
  • Drug cravings

Heroin can be injected, smoked or snorted. Identifying common paraphernalia can help determine whether an individual is abusing heroin.


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  • Stamps, bundles/bindles, bricks –
  • Balloons, rubber gloves – heroin is sometimes sold in latex materials, including balloons or tied up latex gloves
  • Small sandwich bags, or corners of larger bags tied together – used to hold heroin


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  • Hypodermic needles – used to inject liquefied drug
  • Cotton balls – used to filter liquefied heroin for impurities
  • Spoons or bottle caps – used for cooking heroin, liquefying it for injection
  • Shoelaces, rubber hoses, length of string or similar – used to “tie off,” restricting blood flow on one’s limbs to make veins pop out
  • Lighters/ candles – heat source used to melt the drug


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  • Lighters or candles – heat source used to smoke the drug
  • Straws – used to capture smoke and steam given off by heat
  • Aluminum foil, cigarettes, rolling papers, pipes – All can be improvised to smoke heroin


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  • Rolled dollar bills, cut straws or similar – used for snorting heroin
  • Razor blades or similar – used to cut heroin into “lines” for snorting
  • Small mirrors or glass – surface for snorting of heroin

Detox Process

Amatus Recovery’s detox facilities offer medically assisted detox for individuals facing acute withdrawal from heroin, as well as inpatient and outpatient therapy programs designed to build the skills for long term recovery. During detox, every individual in our care has access to around the clock nursing care, to monitor their vitals and provide medication when necessary. Our staff will assess each individual’s needs, and help design a plan for them to taper their use smoothly and safely, with the least amount of discomfort.

Further Treatment Options

At TruHealing Centers, we offer a full continuum of care, from intensive inpatient programs through a number of outpatient levels of care. According to evidence, our team believes that a longer stay in treatment sets people up for a better chance at long-term recovery. We are committed to helping every individual not only achieve recovery but maintain it for years to come. This means treating not only the physical addiction but addressing the mental and spiritual aspects as well. Our staff will create an individualized treatment plan with you, using a variety of therapeutic modalities to help every individual build the skills for recovery.

Overcome Heroin Addiction with Support from TruHealing Centers

If you or a loved one is dealing with heroin addiction or acute withdrawal, TruHealing Centers can help. Our team of therapists and addiction specialists can guide you through detox then help you address underlying issues that may be causing your addiction. At TruHealing Centers, we believe in comprehensive care to prevent future relapse and keep you on the right track. If you would like more information about our programs and therapy options, reach out to our team today by calling 833.631.0525 or completing our online form. Our TruHealing Centers team can help you overcome heroin addiction, but the first step is up to you. Contact our team today.

a man meditates as he thinks about music in sobriety