What is Heroin and How Does Someone Start Using It? - Banyan Treatment Center Chicago

What is Heroin and How Does Someone Start Using It?


What is Heroin and How Does Someone Start Using It?

Diamorphine, as we all know it be called Heroin, is an opioid most commonly used for recreation. What was intended to be used to relieve pain has now become widespread in use for recreation due to its addictive properties and the feelings of euphoria. Typically, people start out using pain killers like Vicodin or OxyContin, but after a while, the prescription painkillers become harder to divert and obtain. Many people addicted to opiates are turning to heroin because it’s a cheaper alternative.

How does Heroin Affect the Body?

Heroin suppresses the central nervous system and its functions like heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and temperature regulation. It also binds to opioid receptors, increasing chemicals in the brain that are responsible for releasing feelings of pleasure. When this occurs, euphoria sets in and the user experiences a “high.” When heroin is abused, a rush of pleasure occurs, and when it is removed, the opposite effect takes place. Heroin is typically injected into a vein, but it can be smoked, snorted or inhaled.

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What are Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms?

Withdrawal symptoms range depending on how much the brain relies on heroin, and how much of its chemical structure has been altered with its abuse. For someone who doesn’t abuse heroin in heavy doses for months or years, withdrawal may be more tempered and not last as long. Mild to severe withdrawal symptoms may include:
• Nausea
• Abdominal pain/cramps
• Sweating
• Shaking
• Nervousness
• Agitation
• Depression
• Muscle spasms
• Cravings for drugs
• Relapse
• Tearing
• Runny nose
• Chills
• Yawning
• Muscle and bone aches
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Restlessness
• Tremors
• Trouble concentrating
• Goose bumps
• Fatigue
• Anxiety
• Insomnia
• Hypertension
• Rapid heart rate
• Impaired respiration
• Difficulty feeling pleasure

The longer heroin is abused and how much is used each time will factor how dependent the brain and body are to the drug. Therefore, the severity and duration of withdrawal will vary for everyone. Someone with a history of mental illness or addiction may be more likely to become dependent on the drug quicker. Depression may lead someone to consider suicide, for example.

How Does Someone Detox from Heroin?

Heroin should never be stopped suddenly without the support of medical health professionals. Medical detox providers use medications and therapy to soothe symptoms, increasing the chances that a person will move through withdrawal safely and successfully.

Since withdrawal can peak after a few days from the last dose, detox at Banyan Treatment Centers provides a comfortable way to rid the drug from the body and avoid relapse. Medical detox starts before heroin completely leaves the system, and usually takes between 5 and 7 days. For someone who is more heavily dependent on heroin, detox may last longer, in most cases up to 10 days. Medical detox may use medications and therapy to help the body and brain recover from heroin’s effects. Blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and temperature levels are all monitored to help keep our clients safe and secure throughout the entire process.


For help with detoxing from heroin, please call us at 844-248-4686. Our heroin addiction treatment centers can provide resources for you or your loved one.

Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.

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