Statistics About Heroin Use

About 494,000 Americans over the age of 12 are regular heroin users.

Over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in May 2020, the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period – primarily driven by synthetic opioids like heroin and fentanyl.

About 25% of people who try heroin will become addicted.

5 Fast Facts about Heroin

Heroin is a highly addictive and dangerous opioid drug.

Heroin disrupts the behavior of certain natural chemicals in the brain, which causes these pathways to become dependent on the use of heroin to continue functioning.

Chronic heroin users experience various medical complications such as scarred veins, abscesses, and bacterial infections of blood vessels.

Sharing injection equipment is how many heroin users become infected with severe illness like Hepatitis B and C, and HIV.

Many chronic heroin users experience mental illness such as depression and antisocial personality disorder.

About Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction can develop quickly, however, it usually takes several uses. Regular use of the drug produces high levels of tolerance, which is why users start needing higher doses to feel the effects, and ultimately become addicted. Heroin use and addiction often starts with misuse of prescription opioid medications.

Heroin addiction results in severe physical dependence, and withdrawal can occur within hours of the last use of the drug.

Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Restlessness
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

Signs of Heroin abuse

  • Spending more time alone
  • Moodiness
  • Making irrational decisions
  • Lack of motivation
  • Confusion

Short Term Effects

  • Inability to focus
  • Lapsing in and out of consciousness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Decreased respiration
  • Low blood pressure
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Dry mouth

Signs of Addiction

  • Shallow breaths
  • Gasping for air
  • Very pale skin
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Disorientation

Long Term Effects

  • Heart disease
  • Lung problems
  • Cognitive damage
  • Overdose potential

Heroin Overdose Treatment

The treatment for heroin overdose is a medicine called Naloxone (brand name Narcan). It is an opioid receptor antagonist medication that can reverse a heroin overdose. Narcan can be used by both medical professionals as well as caregivers and family members, and can be lifesaving.

Heroin Addiction Treatment

If you’re struggling with heroin addiction, there is hope and help available. No matter how serious the addiction is, it is treatable and recovery is possible.

The typical first step in heroin addiction treatment is detoxing. Then, treatment for heroin addiction can include both behavioral and pharmacological (medicinal) intervention – with a combination of both proving to be most effective.

Detoxing from Heroin

  • Detox is the process of ridding the body of drugs. Medication is recommended during this stage
    to reduce cravings and physical withdrawal symptoms. Detox alone is not a treatment for heroin
    addiction, but must be followed by another form of behavioral or pharmacological treatment.

Medications for Heroin Addiction

  • Agonists, such as methadone, which activate opioid receptors, but produce a smaller response.
  • Partial agonists, such as buprenorphine, with relieves drug cravings without producing a high.
  • Antagonists, such as naltrexone, which blocks the action of opioids and is not addictive.

Behavioral Therapies for Heroin Addiction

Therapies that are commonly used in heroin addiction treatment include contingency management and cognitive behavioral therapy.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy – teaches patients in recovery to find connections between their thoughts, feelings and actions and increase awareness of how these factors impact recovery.
  • Contingency management – rewards patients for positive behavior change, such as negative drug tests. After treatment is complete, patients should consider their relapse prevention plan or an “aftercare” program. This can include continued counseling or participation in support groups.