What is heroin addiction?
Heroin addiction is defined as continued use of heroin despite negative life consequences to health, social, or work patterns. Because heroin is rapid-acting, it is one of the most habit-forming drugs on the planet. People addicted to heroin feel powerless over its effects due to felt cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Addiction to heroin: What does it feel like?
Because of its great addictive potential, people from all walks of life can become addicted to heroin. To sum up the addiction, a person hooked to heroin is willing to lose anything just to support the habit and ends up losing everything.
Here are excerpts from a teen who described how he first encountered heroin, and how it destroyed his life:
“I was 16 when I first snorted heroin. I was in my car and my cousin just happened to have some on him. I was like “Let me try, let me try,” and he did. But he only gave me a very tiny amount, so it really didn’t even do much. When I was 17, I had my own apartment. This boy came over and borrowed my car to go down to Baltimore and he didn’t want to take the drugs he had on him. So I held onto them. I knew it was heroin. I did the whole bag and I was really high. I threw up and all that, but it was great. It was just the most wonderful feeling. That’s when it started and I was hooked until I was 21. I had no idea how addictive it was.
Within three months, I was doing it every day. I was working at a car wash and I blew most of my money on the heroin. Then I started stealing from my parents. I wrote out checks of theirs to myself. I stole my mom’s jewelry. I’d take anything around the house that was of value and pawn it off.
When I was on heroin, I had dark circles under my eyes. My skin was like a yellowish color. I looked sick, physically ill. I overdosed four times. You never know if you’re going to overdose because you never know what you’re getting. Another time I overdosed my father found me at three in the morning basically dead. My mom did CPR on me and they called 911. If my dad hadn’t found me, I wouldn’t be here.
I was sent to jail because my parents finally did press charges for the checks I had written and I got a sentence of 18 months”.
A person may exhibit the following heroin addiction signs and symptoms:
- bouts of slurred, garbled or incoherent speech
- declining hygiene and neglect of physical appearance
- declining self-esteem
- having paraphernalia such as burned spoons, aluminum foils, makeshift tourniquets, aluminum foil and
- burners, straws, small plastic bags with white powdery residue, etc.
- having syringes and needles not used for medical purposes
- inflamed or collapsed veins in arms or legs; used as injection sites for heroin
- marked weight loss, and presence of cuts, bruises and scabs from picking skin
- runny nose, frequent infections and abscess, and in women, cessation of menses (amenorrhea)
- stealing cash and valuables, lying and deceptive behavior
- sudden loss of performance in school or work
- wearing clothing to hide needle marks
- withdrawal from family, friends, co-workers and classmates
- withdrawal from set of friends and family, and spending time with new ‘friends’
Treatment for heroin addiction
You cannot quit heroin by going cold turkey or cutting back use as you are likely to cave in from heroin withdrawal symptoms. Substituting other recreational drug to quit heroin will only compound to the problem. The correct way to treat addiction is to undergo a complete and thorough heroin detox and a rehabilitation program offered by medical professionals.