About Heroin Addiction
To understand heroin addiction, it is important to start with the fact that addiction is a chronic disease. Heroin addicts are unable to control their drug-seeking behaviors as the drug changes the brains ability to make sound decisions and use judgment. When heroin is used, the body metabolizes it at morphine, which creates strong sensations of pleasure and sedation. These sensations are themselves addictive, and even one use of heroin can lead to full-blown heroin addiction in individuals.
Individuals who use heroin will quickly develop a tolerance to the drug that prompts users to increase their consumption of heroin in order to experience the high they want to achieve. Heroin addiction is very common in users as the drug works quickly to create drug dependency. According to surveys, it is estimated that more than 4 million individuals within the US have experimented with heroin at one point, with the addiction rate at 23%. Basically, 1 of every 4 people that try heroin become addicted to it and require heroin detox and inpatient heroin rehab.
Heroin Addiction and Opiates
Many struggling with heroin addiction report being having opiate addiction histories, meaning that they had become addicted to pain medications following illness, injury or surgery. For many looking to replace their pain pills once their prescriptions ran out, heroin was a cheap, quick alternative. Like opiate pain medications, heroin crosses the blood-brain barrier, quickly creating euphoric sensations and pain relief for the user.
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Heroin Street Names
Heroin is a very addictive opioid drug that is manufactured and sold illegally in the United States for recreational use. Made from the morphine derived from the seed pod of opium poppies, heroin is often a white or tan powder, although it is also sold as a sticky, black substance called black tar on the street. The types of street heroin vary depending on the area in which they are sold on the street. Heroin can be injected, smoked or snorted and is often mixed with other illicit drugs. Heroin is known on the streets by many different names, and is often mixed with other dangerous drugs such as meth, ecstasy or Fentanyl. Some of the more common names for heroin are:
- Black pearl
- Black tar
- Witch hazel
- China white
Heroin Addiction and Effects on the Body
When heroin is taken, the immediate effects on the body can be immensely pleasurable and provide an escape for individuals living with pain or anxiety. Heroin is a very powerful pain reliever that can quickly work to change the body’s response to negative stimuli such as fear, grief, anxiety or injury. Over time, the body perceives heroin as having taken the place of naturally released chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. With prolonged use of heroin, the body drops production of these brain chemicals, leaving the individual to rely on heroin or other opiates to regulate “normal” brain chemistry. This can become a permanent condition in many who are fighting heroin addiction and push users to continue their heroin abuse. Continued abuse of heroin will lead to other changes in brain chemical balance that can cause the following:
- Decision-making problems
- Inability to manage stress
- Memory problems
- Learning difficulties
- Judgment issues
- Behavior imbalances
Heroin Addiction Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of heroin addiction are usually difficult to miss as individuals display erratic, uncharacteristic behaviors and often bare other physical marks indicative of drug abuse. One of the easiest ways to identify heroin addiction in a loved one is by looking for track marks or sores that are common in heroin addicts. Some of the other symptoms of heroin addiction include:
- Light sensitivity
- Extreme drowsiness
- Slow, slurred speech
- Pinpoint pupils
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Social withdrawal
- Neglect of hygiene
- Stealing and lying
- Loss of motivation
Heroin mixed with other drugs
Speedball: Heroin mixed with cocaine is a common way dealers cut street heroin and has been a growing concern in the fight against drug addiction. Other names for heroin cut with cocaine are Goofball, Scramble., He-she, Murder One, Sandwich, and Smoking gun.
A-bomb or Atom Bomb: Marijuana mixed with heroin. Also referred to as Canade.
Bars: Heroin mixed with Xanax. Other combinations of prescription drugs and heroin are Karachi, Cheese and Polo.
Dragon Rock: Heroin and Crack. Tar, Moonrock, Eightball, and Chasing the Dragon are other street names for the combination of crack and heroin.
El Diablo: Heroin, Marijuana and cocaine
Screwball: Heroin and Methamphetamine.
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