heroin Substance abuse and treatment Fort Myers FloridaHeroin (diacetylmorphine) is described by the National Institute of Drug Abuse as a highly addictive drug that is processed from morphine. Morphine is a naturally occurring substance that is extracted from the pods of the poppy plants. Heroin is manufactured by combining two acetyl groups to the morphine molecule. This process creates a partly synthetic opioid or narcotic analgesic.

Heroin in its pure form is a white, bitter tasting powder. However, when manufactured for illicit sales, the drug can be diluted with various other additives like sugar or caffeine and can have a rock like appearance. Based on what is used to expand the product, the color of heroin may be gray, brown or even black.

Street names for this drug may include:

  • Black Tar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Big H
  • “H”
  • Hell Dust
  • Horse
  • Skag
  • Nose Drops
  • Smack
  • Thunder

The drug can be injected, smoked or snorted.

Drug Classification

Heroin is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. Drugs in this category meet the Food and Drug Administration and Drug Enforcement Administration criteria for having a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use in the United States and no safety parameters for use even with medical supervision. Under these stringent stipulations, no prescription may be written for a Schedule I drug and manufacture, distribution, possession and use is subject to stiff judicial penalties.

Most opioids like Heroin are characterized as depressants which are drugs that lower the function of the central nervous system. They are also referred to as “downers” which is an apt description of how they impact the body. However, in individuals with a dependency on Heroin, use of the drug can be energizing. An overdose of heroin will result in depressing respiratory and cardiac functions.

Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Addiction

When someone has developed a dependence on Heroin or is addicted to the drug the signs are fairly evident and may include:

  • Neglect of general appearance manifested by disheveled hair, unwashed clothing and body odor.
  • Behavior also changes drastically. Heroin addicts typically withdraw from social interaction with family and friends and become obsessive about getting and using the drug.
  • Displays of unnecessary aggression and/or hostility
  • Drowsiness with a tendency to randomly doze off
  • Itching and sores from excessive scratching of the skin.
  • Nausea and vomiting

Heroin Trends

Heroin has been in use since it was synthetized by C.R. Alder Wright in 1874. Heroin use however, never achieved the popularity of use enjoyed by marijuana or cocaine. However, with the proliferation of prescription drugs, heroin has begun to be more widely used. This resurgence is due to the chemical similarities in prescription medication and heroin which has made it the go to drug when prescription medications such as Vicodin and Percocet are either too expensive or too hard to get. Like heroin, these drugs are derived from opium. When the use of these drugs resulted in numerous overdose deaths, legislators passed bills that restricted their distribution and use. As a result the availability of prescription drugs became highly regulated. Heroin, being cheaper and more accessible became the natural alternative. As a result heroin use is trending from the inner cities to the suburbs.

Adverse Effects

The most adverse effect noted with heroin use is the rapid onset of dependence and addiction. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) approximately 23 percent of individuals who use heroin become dependent on it. Heroin produces a dramatic high that can occur as little as eight seconds after injecting the drug. However repeated use of the drug in efforts to repeat this euphoric experience contributes to the growing dependence. The most worrisome adverse effects however has to do with the many ways in which Heroin can cause death such as:

  1. Heroin overdose which is taking more drugs than the body can safely handle. This causes vital organs to shut down due to respiratory depression and cardiac arrest. When a heroin overdose occurs this represents a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention and the use of a drug antagonist such as naloxone to halt or reverse respiratory depression. Call 911 if heroin use has produced muscle or stomach spasms, shallow breathing, bluish skin and lips, weak pulse, cold and clammy skin or seizures.
  2. Contaminated drugs. Because street dealer try to maximize their profits by combining various additives to pure heroin, users can get drugs that are lethal. In most cases the body is unable to process these potent combinations.
  3. Most heroin users in a drug induced haze share needles that may be contaminated with people who are HIV positive, have AIDS or Hepatitis B or C. Transmission of these and other diseases can occur when blood and body fluids are exchanged.


Treatment for those suffering from dependence or addiction to heroin is highly specialized and provided at quality drug rehab treatment centers. There are several treatment options available to the heroin addict including specialized medications such as Suboxone that help to reduce cravings. Medical detox is a process that help addicts to halt drug use in a safe, clinically equipped environment with board certified addiction specialists.

Following detox rehabilitative treatment options that are customized for the patient may be combined with evidence-based cognitive behavioral, group therapy. Other holistic and conventional remedial processes enhance the recovery process. Our primary goal for every patients is that they achieve full recovery from heroin addiction and long term sobriety.

If you or a loved one is suffering with heroin addiction it does not have to be a death sentence. However, it is important to seek help immediately before it lead to an overdose or other serious irreversible condition. Get help by calling our Drug Rehab Treatment Centers at 877-855-3470. We have the tools and the expertise to help.

Contact us today for more information on our treatment programs.

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