What Is Heroin Addiction?

Heroin is a Class A drug that is widely known for its dangers, lifestyle and effects. As one of the most powerful drugs you can buy, users can become physically addicted within a matter of days.  Heroin can be smoked or “cooked up” (the process where Heroin is vaporized into a liquid) and injected.  Many users progress from smoking Heroin initially; to doing the one thing, they said they would never do…injecting.  Injecting carries more health risks but produces a quicker and more intense high.  The reason many users progress on to injecting is that they quickly develop a tolerance to the drug. Tolerance is where a physical dependence has built and more extreme measures and larger amounts are needed to produce the same effect. Withdrawing from Heroin is very unpleasant; it is for this reason that many users find it difficult to stop. There are medications that can be used to assist in the withdrawal process, but these should only be used under full medical supervision.  Many addicts will use a Heroin substitute prescribed by their local Drug and Alcohol team, such as Methadone or Subutex, then ends up using on top.  This only increases the risks and makes it much more difficult for them to stop completely. When Heroin is smoked in lesser doses it will produce feelings of warmth and wellbeing, in larger doses it will cause the user to slump and be very drowsy.  Someone who has a tolerance may well be able to function once they have had their usual fix, as their body has adapted to having the drug in the system. Some Heroin addicts are very difficult to spot.  Not all are of the variety of the stereotypical user.  Some addicts will be able to maintain a job and social life.  They will use just enough to stop them from withdrawing. It can therefore be very useful to know the signs and symptoms and the objects they utilize to smoke or inject the drug.

Heroin Paraphernalia – How to spot the signs of a Heroin user

You may be wondering if a family member, loved one, or friend is using Heroin.  It is helpful to know what the paraphernalia is (the items they utilize to smoke or inject) and the physical and emotions signs of a Heroin addict:

Heroin Paraphernalia

Heroin smoker

  • Tin foil – in small square pieces
  • Pipe: shaped like a tobacco or Crack pipe
  • Any hollowed out long object used to inhale: pens, toilet roll cardboard tube, Bongs, straws
  • Empty soft drink Cans
  • Silver gum wrappers

Used items will often have scorch marks and a brown or yellowy residue on them


Heroin injector

  • Needles
  • Bent spoons
  • Packets of Citric Acid (A form of acid is required to break down the Heroin)
  • Packets of Vitamin C
  • Lemon, Ascorbic Acid
  • Cotton balls
  • Bottle tops
  • Tourniquets (used to tighten the blood flow to the limb so that the veins come to the surface) examples are shoelaces, belts, long rubber bands
  • Cigarette filters
  • Lots of Lighters

Again, used items will often have scorch marks and have a brown/yellow residue

Physical and Emotional Signs of someone who is using or under the influence

  • Restricted pupil in eye (pin-prick pupils)
  • Droopy, Glassy eyed
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Greying skin
  • Disinterest in physical appearance and hygiene
  • Spots and sores
  • Track marks (bruising of veins where the user has injected)
  • Abscesses on arms, legs, groin
  • No or little appetite
  • Sleepiness
  • Disinterested and uncaring attitude
  • Emotionless
  • Disappearing for days/weeks at a time
  • Loss of interest in sex and personal relationships
  • Missing appointments and commitments

Because of Heroin’s addictive properties, the fact it is a Class A drug and is expensive to fund and maintain a habit, Heroin addicts will resort to any means to get the drug and stop the withdrawal symptoms.  This can cause them to lie, manipulate, cheat, steal, commit crime and even sell themselves on the street. Their need to feed their habit over rides any morals they may once have had.  They become a slave to Heroin and will bare little resemblance to their former selves.

Heroin – The Risks

As a Class A drug it is illegal to possess or supply Heroin.  Personal possession alone can carry a prison sentence of up to 7 years.  As well as being illegal there are very great and real health risks associated with Heroin, if you are a user or an addict, you should be fully aware that each hit carries the risk of:

  • Very quick tolerance building
  • Death from overdose (those whom are using for the first time, use alone or have not used in a while are at greater risk of this of this happening)
  • Transmission of Blood Born viruses such as Hepatitis B and C, HIV/AIDS
  • Abscesses
  • Gangrene
  • Collapsed veins
  • Malnutrition
  • Compromised breathing and slowed heart rate, leading to heart failure
  • Organ failure
  • Brain damage through lack of oxygen to the brain
  • Increased risk of accidents
  • Risk taking and dangerous behaviour
  • Associating with individuals who would cause you harm to get money or take your drugs

Are you addicted to Heroin?

The simplest way to find out if you are addicted to Heroin is to go without, within a short period of time you will develop crippling withdrawal symptoms that only more Heroin will relieve.  Symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Stomach cramps and diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Hallucinations (audio, physical and visual)
  • Uncontrolled Shaking
  • Chills
  • Flu like symptoms, runny nose, sneezing, cough.
  • Sweating
  • Skin crawling and itching
  • Agitation
  • Muscle spasms and cramps
  • Unable to focus or concentrate
  • Headache and tightness in head
  • Panic and anxiety
  • Unable to eat
  • Aches in the bones

Liberty House Heroin Detox

If you or a loved one are suffering with heroin addiction, it is vital to seek the right professional help straight away.  Heroin carries a high risk of death and the effects of an addict are devastating to both the individual and their loved ones.  Liberty house facilitates a full medically supervised Heroin and Opiate detox, in a safe and secured environment.  Around the clock supervision and support is provided.  As well as a full medical detox, you will undergo a rehabilitation program, designed specifically to treat your individual circumstances, issues and clinical needs. You can be free of Heroin, you can rebuild your life, and we can show you how.

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