All opiates or opioids are made from substances derived from the poppy plant. This includes heroin, opium, morphine, OxyContin and all the others. Heroin comes in many forms and is one of the world’s most deadliest drugs. In 2019, there were a total of 70,630 deaths from drug overdose in the United States; of the total, 49,860 deaths were caused by opioid overdose. The side effects of heroin use are damaging and life threatening.
Seeking help for heroin addiction is crucial to overcoming the onset of lasting effects. Contact us directly for immediate assistance with treatment options at 855-281-5588.
Heroin is made from morphine—derived from poppies and not from the pharmaceutical supply—and exists in many different forms. The consistency of heroin varies greatly as laxatives, sugars, starches, powdered milk, and other drugs are added as fillers. In the last decade, fentanyl has become more prevent in the U.S. heroin supply. The drug’s unpredictable strength increases the risk of accidental overdoses. Because it’s been cut, black tar heroin is less pure than white and cheaper.
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What Is Black Tar Heroin?
All forms of heroin are derived from morphine, a powerful opioid painkiller. While there are different forms of heroin, most commonly recognized is black tar heroin. What is black tar heroin?
Black tar heroin is primarily produced in Mexico. Some South American and Asian countries have also been known to export the drug. Due to the large Mexican supply, black tar heroin is prevalent throughout the United States.
Risks of Heroin & Black Tar Heroin
What is black tar heroin? The risks as they correspond with heroin are increasing the concerns as they surround heroin addiction. When heroin enters the system, it quickly makes its way to the brain, where it changes back into morphine. It can bring on a sense of euphoria in a user, which is the primary reason for the popularity of this particular drug. Other short-term effects include:
- Heavy limbs
- Clouded thinking
- Flushed skin
- Dry mouth
- Nodding off
Primary methods of use for black tar heroin include smoking or injecting the drug. In some instances, heroin is snorted, but it’s not as common as other methods of ingestion. Since the drug can be dissolved in water quite easily, injection drug use is common.
Side Effects of Heroin & Addiction
Heroin is a controlled substance with an extremely high potential for addiction. But the images we see on TV and films regarding addiction are often misleading. Studies have proven that the vast majority of people who use heroin started with prescription opioids. A sports injury in high school and a prescription, or a curious teen found a relative’s bottle of Oxycontin in the medicine cabinet. These are the two most often heard stories. Addiction is gradual and if the signs are missed, it can be easy to fall into substance abuse. As tolerance builds up, the cost of buying Oxy or Vicodin soon becomes unsustainable. Facing withdrawal or getting “dope sick,” addicts often turn to the much cheaper alternative, heroin.
According to a study that appeared in The American Medical Association’s journal, JAMA Psychiatry, 75% of those who began their opioid abuse in the 2000s started with a prescription drug, like Oxy. If you suspect someone you love may be using heroin, some coming signs are:
- Falling asleep
- Pinpoint pupils
- Poor coordination
- Dry mouth
- Depressed respiratory system
The side effects of heroin can cause lasting damage both mentally and physically. The more extreme conditions that can arise with ongoing heroin addiction include:
- Venous sclerosis
- Hardening of veins occurs when the blood vessel walls become hardened and unsuitable for injection
- Flesh-eat bacteria
- Necrotizing Fasciitis also caused by using contaminated needles
- Gas gangrene is a result of Clostridium perfringens bacteria entering the body via needles
- A bacterial infection as a result of using contaminated needles
- Clostridium botulinum bacteria gains entry via a needle used to inject black tar injection under the skin.
Other side effects caused by using heroin include heart infections, abscesses, seizures, collapsed veins, HIV hepatitis, and death from overdose.
Recognizing the Signs of Heroin Addiction
The ability to spot the signs of heroin addiction could mean the difference between life and death. The most apparent sign is paraphernalia. Finding needles and syringe caps, burnt spoons, or tin foil are all telltale signs of heroin use. You might be able to spot needle or “track marks” on the arms, legs, or feet. As heroin addiction progresses, people may begin to use less visible places such as between the toes to shoot up.
Withdrawal symptoms can be another obvious sign. Early signs can be cold or flu-like symptoms including:
- Runny nose
- Sweating followed by chills
- Extreme body aches.
Behavioral changes may also be noticeable. Frequent lying, increased desire for privacy or secretiveness, mood swings, and theft may also indicate an addiction. People suffering from addiction also lose interest in activities and hobbies that once provided joy.
Fatal drug overdoses in Colorado increased by 59% in 2020. Nationwide, a record 90,722 overdose deaths were reported in the U.S. in 2020. Since 1999, 841,00 have died from drug overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The opioid epidemic continues to rage from coast to coast and shows no sign of slowing. Using any opioid—especially heroin and fentanyl—will enviably lead to death if not treated.
What Are Side Effects Stemming From Withdrawal?
Those who are addicted to heroin not only become physically dependent on the substance, but are also afraid to stop using for fear of the symptoms they may experience when they stop using. Withdrawal symptoms from heroin can develop as soon as a few hours after sustained use. Someone who is withdrawing from longtime heroin abuse and dependence is at risk of serious medical complications and should seek professional medical personnel for help. Some effects of withdrawal include:
- Intense craving for heroin
- Extreme sweating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe muscle aches and pains
- Cramping in the limbs
- Feelings of heaviness of the body
- Extreme pain in muscles and bones
- Crying jags
- Cold sweats
- Runny nose
- Death can occur when other medical conditions are present
It’s important to seek addiction treatment experienced with heroin withdrawal to ensure that the side effects of heroin don’t become life-threatening.
The length of withdrawal from Heroin depends on several factors. Some of the most important include:
- The length of time the user abused Heroin
- The amount of Heroin they took each time
- How frequently they used Heroin
- The method by which they took Heroin
- The presence of underlying medical or mental health issues
Withdrawal makes Heroin addiction a difficult cycle to break, but beating your Heroin addiction is more than possible. Drug rehab centers offer inpatient and outpatient recovery programs for Heroin detox.
AspenRidge Recovery: Heroin Addiction Treatment
Overcoming heroin addiction is not an easy undertaking. It remains one of the most addictive substances available. However, if left untreated, most heroin addiction eventually leads to death, which is why it’s crucial to consider finding help sooner.
Please contact AspenRidge Recovery if you’re considering rehab. We have experience treating opioid, fentanyl, and heroin addiction. We use evidence-based treatment and therapy to treat the underlying causes of addiction. We have flexible schedules to accommodate working people and an online option if you’re not in the Denver, Colorado Springs, or Fort Collins area. Reach out at (855) 281-5588 to hear about our heroin addiction treatment programs, designed to address the serious effects of heroin use. We accept most major insurance.