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Inpatient Rehab

How A Better Today Recovery Services Treats Heroin Addiction

At A Better Today Recovery Services, there’s hope for you or your loved one fighting a heroin addiction. Heroin is one of the most difficult addictions to kick. The initial euphoric high that people in active addiction experience is so mind corrupting that heroin abuse is known to take years, if not decades, of their life. It takes the power of their family’s love and the dedication of the user in treatment to overcome the addiction. The heroin epidemic in the United States is serious and growing, thanks to the easy availability of the drug.

Heroin is dangerous, powerful, and incredibly addictive. While it was once seen as a “street” drug, increasing numbers of people are becoming addicted as they switch over from abuse of prescription drugs, hoping for a more intense or prolonged experience. These increases add up to almost 1 million chronic heroin users in the country, with 50,000 people dying each year from heroin abuse.

Individualized treatment is needed for the heroin user to kick this mind-altering substance, rehabilitate both the body and the mind, and start on the journey toward long-lasting recovery. The journey of recovery isn’t a quick one, and finding the right support system to walk with you through detox, rehab, and recovery is vitally important.

At A Better Today Recovery Services, we’re prepared to walk beside you through the tough parts of recovery, allowing you the time you need to heal, body and soul, and we provide the aftercare needed to maintain sobriety and health as you rebuild your life. The moment you decide to take control over your heroin addiction is the moment we are ready to walk you through each step.

50% of adolescents mistakenly believe that prescription drugs are safer than illegal drugs.

What is Heroin?

Heroin is an illegal street drug derived from morphine. It’s known by many colloquial names on the street, including “smack,”“Dragon,” “H,” and “dope.” Other names for heroin are tied to the form it comes in. Heroin in its common form as a white powder is sometimes called “white lady,” while the brown powder type of heroin is known as “brown sugar,” among other names. Heroin can also take the form of a sticky black substance known as “black tar.”

Heroin can be abused in many ways. It can be injected with a needle; if it’s injected directly into a vein, it provides an almost instantaneous high, while injecting heroin into a muscle takes a few minutes longer. Other common methods of ingesting heroin, which include smoking, sniffing and snorting it, bring on a high within about 15 minutes.

Unfortunately, the increase of Heroin abuse is greatest in young adults between the ages of 18-25. Nearly 170,000 people try heroin for the first time every year and due to the cost and high achieved when using this substance, that rate has remained steady over the years.

In any version, use of heroin is illegal, and anyone using it is subject to arrest. The Food and Drug Administration classifies heroin as a Schedule I narcotic, which indicates it’s a dangerous drug with no medical uses.

Interventions for Opiate-based Pills & Heroin Abuse Addictions

Just about every heroin user needs some kind of assistance in order to stop, due to both the physical challenges of withdrawal and the psychological hold the drug can have over the user’s mind. Because of this, heroin addicts often require intervention by a loved one to stop using heroin and begin treatment.

Because heroin can result in a dangerous overdose with every single use, intervention is especially important. Sometimes the families of heroin users aren’t aware of the critical need to take action to help their loved ones, but without intervention followed by treatment, most heroin users are likely to end up dead or in prison.

Any use of heroin by your loved one is bad enough to warrant a professional intervention. Acts that enable a heroin addict to keep using, such as allowing them to live with you rent-free, can ultimately be dangerous to your loved one. At A Better Today Recovery Services, our interventionists help you through the confusion that comes with trying to reach a heroin user and helps you develop an intervention plan that’s the first step toward hope.

Prescription Pills to Heroin: A New Gateway Drug

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, many people who abuse heroin started off by misusing prescription opioids before turning to heroin. Many people believe that the drugs prescribed by a doctor are safer to abuse or experiment with than those they purchase from a drug dealer. The trust they have in their family physician can be misplaced and life altering.

Unfortunately, prescription pills have become a gateway drug for heroin use when people’s tolerance for the opioids increases or they can no longer get a refill; this causes them to want a stronger drug when their body has become dependent on the effects of opiates.

Fully 50 percent of abusers of prescription pills get them from friends or relatives, while 22 percent get them from doctors; when these sources dry up, users often turn to heroin. In fact, almost half of young people start with prescription drugs before using heroin, turning to it because it’s often easier to access than prescription opioids and it’s also less expensive.

Opiate-based drug abuse contributes to over 17,000 deaths each year.

Common Behaviors Associated With Addiction

When your loved one starts using heroin, their behavior is likely to change as they make the drug the center of their lives. It may not be easy at first to realize that the behavioral changes you’re spotting are the results of heroin use. If you’re starting to have suspicions, keep an eye open for the following behaviors:

  • Your money or valuables may go missing, with the user taking them to pay for drugs.
  • Your loved one may starting hanging out with a new group of friends who show characteristic physical signs of drug abuse or who use vocabulary related to drug use.
  • You may find drug paraphrenalia around the house, even though you may not initially recognize it as such.
  • You may note personality or behavior changes in your loved one. The changes may involve erratic and unpredictable behavior or an aggressiveness that wasn’t there previously.
  • You may also spot unexplained depression.
  • You may spot track marks on your loved one’s body (not necessarily on their arms) caused by injecting heroin.
  • Your loved one may withdraw from you, as well as from other former friends and family and from social events.
  • The user may become secretive, telling lies for seemingly no reason.

The Dangers Associated with Heroin Abuse

Signs & Symptoms

If you know what to look for, you may spot physical signs of your loved one’s heroin use. Look for small glass or metal pipes, rubber tubing, syringes, and cigarette lighters. Your loved one may also leave belts or dirty spoons lying around, both of which are often used when taking heroin. Heroin itself may look like a powder or a crumbly material, ranging from white to dark brown, or it could be a sticky black substance.

Keep an eye open for symptoms of heroin use as well. A heroin user’s pupils constrict. Heroin users often drop off to sleep suddenly, with breathing slowing down, and skin may flush. Users often become itchy and constipated, so look for overuse of laxatives. Heroin users also experience nausea and vomiting, and their thinking processes can become fuzzy, unclear, and deteriorated.


Withdrawal from heroin occurs after a user’s body becomes physically dependent on the drug and when the user hasn’t ingested the drug in a while. Withdrawal symptoms are so unpleasant that they are often a motivation for users to continue abusing the drug. Symptoms experienced during withdrawal include extreme anxiety, insomnia, abdominal cramps and diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, extreme sweating, aching muscles, and agitation.

Undergoing withdrawal while under medical supervision is the safest way to approach detoxification, minimizing the risk of relapsing. Medically supervised detox often includes the use of medications endorsed by SAMSHA to lessen the unpleasantness and severity of withdrawal symptoms. Undergoing supervised detox in a safe and comfortable environment increases the likelihood of successful recovery from addiction.


It is remarkably easy to overdose on heroin; this is one of the things that makes the drug so very dangerous. Deaths from heroin overdoses have been increasing in recent years, nearing 11,000 in 2014 and continuing to climb.
A heroin overdose requires immediate, urgent medical attention. Factors that may affect the probability of an overdose include the amount of heroin used, the purity of the drug, the age of the user, the user’s weight, and the ingestion of any other substances at the same time.
A heroin overdose affects the entire body, with signs showing up in different ways. If you are concerned about a possible overdose, look for these signs:

  • A weak pulse
  • Extreme drowsiness or repeated loss of consciousness
  • Pinpoint-size pupils
  • Slow or extremely shallow breathing
  • Delirium and disorientation
  • Nails and/or lips that look bluish
  • Sustained loss of consciousness or coma

If you see these signs in your loved one, seek emergency medical help immediately.


What is Heroin’s origin?

Heroin is derived from Morphine, which is a substance that occurs naturally in certain types of poppy plants. These poppy plants are often found in Mexico, Columbia, Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar), and Southwest Asia (Afghanistan and Pakistan). Heroin can be processed into several different forms. “Black tar” Heroin comes from Mexico, and is often found in the western United States. White Heroin comes from Columbia, and is often found on the East Coast of the United States.

What is Heroin?

Heroin is a highly addictive, rapidly acting Opiate drug.

What are Heroin’s common street names?

Thunder, Smack, Big H, Black Tar, Negra, Horse, Chiva, Hell Dust

How is Heroin abused?

Heroin can enter the body via injection, sniffing/snorting, or by smoking. Snorting and smoking Heroin is common if the Heroin is pure.

What is Heroin’s effect on the mind?

Heroin is so addictive, both psychologically and physically, because it enters the brain very quickly. After using, Heroin abusers experience euphoria, followed by period of sleepy wakefulness.

What is Heroin’s effect on the body?

Addiction is one of the most significant effects of Heroin use, because tolerance to the drug develops rapidly. Eventually, higher and higher doses of the drug will be needed to achieve the same results, and the user will become physically dependent on heroin. Some of the physical symptoms of Heroin abuse include dry mouth, nausea, heavy extremities, respiratory depression, drowsiness, constricted pupils, and a warm flushing of the skin.

What are Heroin’s Overdose effects?

With Heroin abuse, the risk of overdose is high because there is no way to tell the strength of the drug, or what it is really made out of. Heroin’s overdose effects include convulsions, shallow and slow breathing, blue lips, blue fingernails, coma, clammy skin, and even death.

Which drugs cause similar affects as Heroin?

Heroin shares similar characteristics as Oxycontin, Vicodin, Methadone, Morphine, Fentanyl, Codeine, and other Opioids.

What are the withdrawal effects of Heroin detox?

When the user stops abusing Heroin, he/she could experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, runny nose, yawning, muscle aches, agitation, tearing, diarrhea, nausea, dilated pupils, abdominal cramping, goose bumps, and vomiting. Withdrawal effects are not life threatening.

Finding the Right Type of Treatment is a Phone Call Away

Providing Quality Treatment for Heroin Addictions

Treatment for heroin abuse begins with detoxification. When treatment is individualized for each patient, as is done at A Better Today Recovery Services, the treatment is more likely to be successful over the long term. Treatment doesn’t end with detox, however. An extended aftercare program is typically needed to bring the user through recovery and back to a productive life.

Medically assisted detox programs are the most successful. The medications used typically make users feel strong and focused while reducing the cravings for heroin, making it possible to wean the body off this strong drug. Medical professionals determine the right dosage based on how much heroin the patient has used in the past, tapering them off slowly to reduce drug cravings or unpleasant side effects.

Detox and treatment for heroin treatment must be done slowly to give the patient time to adjust both physically and psychologically. After the detox phase is over, patients must deal with the issues that drove them to abuse heroin in the first place, and recovery continues through the aftercare period.

Aftercare is a crucial part of treatment for heroin abuse; those who go through an aftercare program are much more likely to complete their recovery, avoid relapses, and return to a sober and productive life. During aftercare, the patient continues to learn and practice the coping strategies that began during the rehab phase. Aftercare typically takes the form of group counseling, individual therapy or membership in a 12-step program. In many cases, patients take advantage of all these routes to recovery.

Saving Lives, Healing Families

A Heroin Addiction Requires Quality Treatment: Explore These Unbiased Sources Before Making a Decision

Realizing that you have a substance abuse problem is nerve wrecking. Many people do not feel comfortable discussing their heroin addiction with their doctor in fear of feeling shame or being thrown in jail. Because of that stigma associated with addiction, finding unbiased information that you can trust in is important to ABTRS.

Making that decision to change your life should come from a place of knowledge. When it comes to substance abuse treatment, our patients and their families need reliable resources that are unbiased and proven or tested to be effective. Checkout the list below to learn more about where ABTRS got their information for this webpage.

NIDA. (2018, June 8). Heroin. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin on 2019, February 26

NIDA. (2018, June 7). Heroin. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin on 2019, February 26

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. SAMHSA Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 18-4742PT4. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2018. 

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