Types of Addiction​

Heroin Addiction​

Heroin Addiction Treatment

GateHouse Treatment understands the difficulties of recovering from heroin addiction and similar substance use disorders. Fortunately, our comprehensive treatment plans ensure clients have all the support, resources, and therapy opportunities they need for a healthy and sustainable recovery. We stand by your side every step of the way and remain personally invested in your progress from the day you begin to the day you leave. Don’t hesitate to contact us today to learn how we can help you overcome your heroin addiction

What is Heroin Addiction?

Heroin is an opiate drug derived from morphine; although morphine is a legally prescribed substance, its use may lead to addiction. It is the most popular and commonly abused opiate drug, with a dependency rate of 23% among users. Heroin is intensely addictive due to how it reacts in the brain.

History of Heroin Abuse and Addiction in America

The process of extracting morphine from opium began in the early 1800s. It became one of the most potent painkillers known to man since morphine is ten times more powerful than opium. In 1897, Felix Hoffman synthesized heroin when trying to convert morphine into codeine. At first, heroin was classified as a non-addictive cough suppressant and analgesic for respiratory infections, but medical professionals soon realized its dangers to patients. People being treated with it rapidly developed dependence, and patients who stopped taking it experienced severe withdrawal. In 1910, the first heroin dependent/heroin treatment case took place.

In 1914, the U.S. government passed the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act, which limited and regulated the medical use of heroin. It required narcotic sellers to be licensed and outlawed prescribing narcotics to addicts. In 1924, the importation of opium for manufacturing heroin became illegal. Subsequent laws in the U.S. have entirely restricted any uses, recreational or medical. Heroin is a Schedule I drug and is illegal to possess, manufacture or sell in America. It is highly addictive and has no accepted medical use.

Common Street Names for Heroin

  • Dope
  • H
  • Smack
  • Boy
  • Dog Food
  • Scag
  • Junk
  • Diesel
  • Brown

Physiology and Side Effects of Heroin

When a person takes heroin, the body is flooded with opioids, leading to incredibly high dopamine levels and a euphoric feeling more potent than their natural release of endorphins.

Using heroin has many side effects no matter the means of administration, and the user rapidly builds a tolerance, needing higher and more frequent doses. Side effects may include:

  • Reduced sensation of pain
  • Drowsiness
  • Constricted pupils
  • Cycling between being awake and severe drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Itchy skin
  • Slowed respiration
  • Slowed heart rate

Understanding Heroin Addiction

When someone abuses heroin in any form, such as snorting, smoking, or injection, they experience euphoria due to the rapid influx of dopamine entering their brain. Over time, the brain stops producing normal amounts of these chemicals, and the mental need for the drug becomes a compulsion resulting in psychological addiction.

The body also adapts to the drug and becomes accustomed to its presence. When intake ceases, the user experiences painful physical withdrawals. Since any use of heroin is dangerous and life-threatening, heroin addiction treatment is available to aid in the consequences of physical and mental addiction.

Quick Facts

  • Heroin is derived from poppy plants
  • It is the most abused and popular opiate drug
  • 23% of people who try heroin become addicted
  • Over-prescribing opioid pain medication has caused dependences
  • From 2002 to 2015 there has been a 6.2 increase in the total number of heroin-related deaths
  • Heroin commonly comes in white or brown powdered form or black, tar-like substance
  • All forms of heroin can be snorted, smoked, or injected

Signs of Heroin Abuse

Just as every person differs, signs and symptoms of heroin abuse and heroin addiction can vary from user to user, common symptoms include:


Depressed, restlessness, anxiety, mood swings, withdrawn, euphoric, extreme agitation, fatigue


Lying, stealing, unexplained absences, lack of appetite, confusion, slurred speech, avoidance of eye contact, lack of personal hygiene, wearing long sleeves and pants in warm weather, defensive and stand-offish


Dry mouth, constricted pupils, lack of coordination, itchiness, constipation, injection sites, bruises, track marks, unexplained weight loss

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