Heroin Addiction Facts

Heroin addiction facts and statistics highlight the need for detox and rehabilitation

Heroin is a potent opioid drug derived from the resin of the poppy plant and can be smoked, snorted or injected. Heroin addiction facts affirm that the drug has a high potential for abuse. Many people who were prescribed opioid painkillers and become addicted to them have switched to heroin when their doctor would not renew their prescription. Heroin addiction has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. and efforts are being made to address this issue. Among the efforts to help curtail heroin use is the promotion of awareness to the public. There are many heroin addiction facts that we should become familiar with regarding heroin, such as:

  1. “On the nod” is a term used among heroin users and refers to the sedative effects of heroin that makes the user sleepy. The addict may fluctuate between periods of wakefulness and sleepiness, and sometimes the addict falls into a very deep sleep and cannot be woken up. Becoming heavily sedated on heroin is dangerous because the addict can lose consciousness, fall into a coma, overdose or have their respiratory system become depressed to the point that they stop breathing. “On the nod” is considered a gateway to overdosing on heroin.
  2. Another heroin addiction fact is that the addict can experience the heroin side effect of severe itching of the skin. As an opioid drug, heroin produces histamines that are released in the body that cause the skin to become irritated. The purer heroin is, without being mixed with other compounds, the more likely the addict will experience severe itching.
  3. There are many adverse heroin effects on the brain that can cause psychological and behavioral changes. Heroin addiction can cause structural changes to the brain that may impair neurotransmissions. The drug deteriorates the pre-frontal cortex of the brain and impairs executive functions such as cognition, decision making, and discernment of conflicting thoughts, natural response activity, personality expression, self control and social behavior.
  4. As an opiate, heroin binds to the opioid receptors in the brain creating an initial rush of euphoria and feelings of well-being. This effect on the brain causes the flooding of dopamine into the brain and entrainment will take place where the brain begins to expect the surge of dopamine. Because of this action, the brain will demand more heroin and the addict will experience intense cravings for the drug. The addict will also experience withdrawal symptoms just a few hours after the last heroin dose. The intense cravings coupled with the impairment of decision making ability in the brain make it very difficult for the heroin addict to stop using the drug. Another heroin effect on the brain is that it will cause the brain to stop naturally producing dopamine which protects the addict from the effects of pain and discomfort.
  5. Heroin statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) state that heroin addiction has many negative consequences that affect the addict, the family, society, and the workplace and learning institutions. The drug increases the risk of hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, crime, violence, adverse fetal development, chronic disease and mental and behavioral impairment. Other heroin statistics from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reveal that there are hundreds of thousands of Americans currently using heroin with predominance among young adults aged 18-25. The heroin epidemic in the U.S. is occurring in the urban, suburban and rural areas of the country.
  6. Other heroin statistics include the short and long-term symptoms of the drug. Some of the symptoms the heroin addict may experience include heart problems, lung damage, kidney failure, mental impairment, nausea, vomiting, itching, infections, weakened immune system, fatigue, malnutrition, slow breathing, disorientation, blood clots, collapsed veins, seizures, liver disease, slurred speech and constricted pupils.
  7. Behavioral manifestations of heroin addiction may include lying, manipulation, deception, isolation, impaired work and school performance and attendance, lack of personal hygiene, stealing money and other valuables, hostile behavior, neglecting duties and responsibilities, loss of motivation and low self-esteem, covering arms and legs with clothing to hide needle marks.
  8. Heroin addiction facts should include drug paraphernalia such as needles and syringes, spoons, lighters or candles, a rope or cord, aluminum foil or gum wrappers, smoking pipes, small plastic bags and straws.

This is a summary of heroin addiction facts, heroin statistics and heroin effects on the brain to help you become more aware of the drug and its effects on the addict and society. If you suspect a loved one of abusing heroin, this summary may be helpful in identifying the problem. Help against heroin addiction is just a phone call away. Learn more about detox and rehabilitation options with WhiteSands Treatment Center.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.