What Does a Heroin High Feel Like?
What Are Heroin Effects on The Body? Heroin high, Heroin Addiction, Overdose, Statistics, Detox & Rehab Treatment
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What is Heroin?
Heroin is a drug that reaches the brain very fast once it’s consumed, for this reason, it is very easy for a person to develop heroin addiction even from one or a few uses. Before we get to the main topic, let’s learn about what heroin is. According to the scientific piece ‘Heroin’, published by The National Library of Medicine, “Heroin is a white or brown powder or a black, sticky goo.
It’s an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance in the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant. It can be mixed with water and injected with a needle. Heroin can also be smoked or snorted up the nose. All of these ways of taking heroin to send it to the brain very quickly. This makes it very addictive.
Regular use of heroin can lead to tolerance. This means users need more and more drugs to have the same effect. At higher doses over time, the body becomes dependent on heroin. If dependent users stop, they will have heroin withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, diarrhea and vomiting, and cold flashes with goosebumps. That is why a medical heroin detox process is very needed.
What Does Heroin Feel Like?
Curiosity about the effects of heroin use can lead someone to try the drug. People who misuse prescription opioids sometimes transition to heroin because it could be cheaper, more available, or more potent. So, what does a heroin high feel like? What is it that causes an addiction to develop so easily?
When someone first uses heroin, the high is often pleasurable. A rush of euphoria and a false sense of well-being can also come with a relief of pain, anxiety, and depression. A heroin high can feel like an escape and is often used as a recreational drug or a method of self-medication. Other feelings often associated with a heroin high include a sense of safety and well-being, despite the actual surroundings or environment.
Heroin binds to opioid receptors in the brain, resulting in a release of endorphins that causes the high. This sensation leads to changes in feelings, thoughts, and sensations. While most people feel the initial heroin high is pleasant, some may have negative experiences, but this depends on the individual.
The reason people want to experience a high from heroin is because of the euphoria it can bring, especially if they might not otherwise feel pleasure often due to depression or other conditions.
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What Does a Heroin High Feel Like? Heroin High Symptoms
If you know someone who is abusing heroin, you may wonder what the heroin high symptoms are. The main symptom of a heroin high is an unnatural sense of happiness or well-being. There are also many other symptoms of heroin intoxication that can accompany a heroin high. These can include:
- Dry mouth
- Flushed, warm skin
- Tiredness and weakness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Confusion or clouded thinking
- Severe itchiness
- Shifting in and out of semi-consciousness
- Slowed breathing
- Absent breathing, leading to death
Following the euphoric rush of using heroin, people will become sleepy while intoxicated, so they may seem extremely drowsy, or they could nod off. People who use heroin are often known to fall asleep anywhere at any time.
Nodding off can refer to falling asleep, but in the context of using heroin, it is much more serious. “Nodding off” refers to drifting in and out of consciousness. This is particularly dangerous as it indicates someone is on the edge of a life-threatening overdose. There is a possibility that someone may not return to consciousness when drifting into unconsciousness.
Heroin High Effects
Heroin intoxication that occurs during a heroin high can lead to overdose and death relatively easily. First, while someone is experiencing heroin high effects, they’re also experiencing changes in how their brain is functioning. This is what causes changes in mood and perception.
When heroin enters the brain, it is converted into morphine before binding to the opioid receptors in the central nervous system. That’s why heroin high effects include euphoria and pleasure. When heroin binds to the opioid receptors, the rush of feel-good dopamine is much higher than what you could experience from natural pleasure.
The euphoric rush and other effects are short-lived, but during the high, heroin intoxication can cause extreme drowsiness, leading the person to slip in and out of consciousness or nod off.
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Heroin Effects on the Body
It is impossible to know from appearance alone whether someone is using heroin. However, heroin use can sometimes cause changes in someone’s physical appearance. Someone who is addicted to heroin may experience weight loss. Their pupils may also present as smaller than normal, which is sometimes referred to as “pinpoint” pupils.
Additionally, this person may become less concerned with their physical appearance and hygiene, or appear more disheveled, but this is not always the case. Someone who injects heroin may have scars on their body to indicate injection histories, such as on their arms or legs. In severe cases, these injection sites may become infected or cause abscesses to form.
Heroin Effect on the Brain
The health hazards associated with heroin stem from the drug itself and the circumstances around its use. Chronic heroin users who share unsterilized heroin paraphernalia can develop a host of long-term health consequences. In addition to chronic conditions and infectious diseases, as the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains, ongoing heroin use can cause changes to the brain.
Research further shows that heroin abuse can lead to a deterioration of the white matter in the brain, which can directly affect decision-making capabilities, the ability to control behavior, and methods of responding to stress. Changes to the brain can also predispose it to a greater likelihood of relapse. Research shows that even after achieving sobriety, a person with a history of heroin abuse may be more likely to take up heroin again than those who do not have a history of such abuse.
Heroin abuse among women has been linked to infertility and disruptions to menstrual cycles. In some cases, pregnant women who use heroin have experienced spontaneous miscarriages. Women who continue their pregnancies may give birth prematurely, and infants may have a low birth weight and/or be born addicted to heroin. Regarding sexual function, women and men may experience diminished sexual drives. Men may experience erectile dysfunction and the inability to regain sexual interest on a long-term basis.
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Heroin High Feeling
The heroin high feeling begins with extreme euphoria and an unnatural sense of pleasure. As the high occurs and afterward, heroin intoxication can cause drowsiness and nod off. It can also induce mental sluggishness, which can outwardly show as slow or slurred speech and confusion. People who experience a heroin high may also feel warmth, relaxation, and coziness.
The heroin high feeling that users describe as pleasurable is unlikely to continue with the same effects as a person builds a tolerance to the drug. Eventually, someone who uses heroin may continue to do so solely to avoid withdrawal, rather than to get high.
Heroin Addiction can easily lead a person to overdose from this drug because of its way of making people want more and more of the substance. A heroin overdose occurs when a person uses enough of the drug to produce a life-threatening reaction or death.
When people overdose on heroin, their breathing often slows or stops. This can decrease the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain, a condition called hypoxia. Hypoxia can have short- and long-term mental effects and effects on the nervous system, including coma and permanent brain damage.
Signs of Heroin Overdose
There are many signs of a heroin overdose, which occurs when a person ingests too much heroin. The primary indication of an overdose is reduced or stopped breathing. Opioid drugs depress breathing rates, especially in large quantities. Depressed breathing looks like this:
- Very pale skin
- Blue tint to the lips and fingertips
- Shallow breaths
- Gasping for air
Other symptoms of a heroin overdose can include:
- Pinpoint pupils
- Discolored tongue
- Weak pulse
- Low blood pressure
- Disorientation, delirium, or a changed mental state
- Spasms or seizures
- Nausea or vomiting
- Extreme drowsiness or an inability to stay awake
Because overdose can be life-threatening, it is extremely important to get medical attention as soon as any of these symptoms appear. Symptoms of an overdose from injected heroin will typically begin about 10 minutes after the individual has taken the dose.
Heroin Overdose Treatment
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there’s a specific medicine called Naloxone that can save the life of someone who’s overdosing. Naloxone is a medicine that can treat an opioid overdose when given right away. It works by rapidly binding to opioid receptors and blocking the effects of heroin and other opioid drugs. Sometimes more than one dose may be needed to help a person start breathing again, which is why it’s important to get the person to an emergency department or a doctor to receive additional support if needed.
Naloxone is available as an injectable (needle) solution and nasal sprays (NARCAN® Nasal Spray and KLOXXADO®). Friends, family, and others in the community can use the nasal spray versions of naloxone to save someone who is overdosing. The rising number of opioid overdose deaths has led to an increase in public health efforts to make Naloxone available to at-risk persons and their families, as well as first responders and others in the community. Some states have passed laws that allow pharmacists to dispense naloxone without a prescription from a person’s personal doctor.
Heroin Overdose Statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), since 2000, the number of drug overdose deaths has increased 137 percent, with opioid drugs leading to a dramatic rise. There has been a 200 percent increase in opioid overdose deaths due to the increase in both opioid medication and heroin addiction and abuse.
Over 10,500 people died from a heroin overdose in 2014 alone, with non-Hispanic white individuals between the ages of 18 and 44 experiencing the highest rates of heroin overdose death, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Historically, men have been the primary victims of a heroin overdose; however, since 2011, rates of women abusing heroin and overdosing from it have risen substantially.
Nonfatal heroin overdoses are more common than fatal overdoses, according to the World Health Organization. The international medical association noted that some groups of people who struggle with addiction to heroin are at a higher risk of suffering a heroin overdose.
Although many people who struggle with heroin addiction are single, WHO notes that heroin overdoses tend to happen in front of at least one witness, like a family member or friend. It is very important, regardless of the situation, for people who witness a person suffering from a heroin overdose (or prescription opioid painkillers) to call 911 and get emergency medical help immediately. Doing so can literally save a person’s life.
How Heroin Is Used?
Heroin is a fast-acting, highly addictive drug that is processed from morphine, a legal opioid narcotic. Unlike morphine, heroin is an illegal substance and the most commonly abused drug in the opioid class. Usage of heroin creates a state of relaxation and euphoria for the user that’s caused by the binding of the drug to the body’s endorphin sites. By binding to the body’s natural pain relievers, heroin blocks signal to the brain which in turn blocks an individual’s ability to feel pain.
Most commonly, heroin is used intravenously by injection with a needle. Other forms of use include smoking, inhalation with a pipe, snorting, or inhalation with the use of a straw.
Immediately after heroin is injected, it crosses the blood-brain barrier, where it is converted into morphine and binds to opioid receptors. Once consumed heroin is said to create a surge of pleasurable sensations, which is referred to as a “rush” or “high.” The intensity of the rush depends on how much of the drug is taken and how fast it enters the brain. The immediacy with which heroin enters the brain and the resulting “rush” is what makes this drug so addictive.
Heroin is most commonly found in white or brown powder form. Other forms of heroin may include a black sticky substance known as “black tar heroin.” Acquiring heroin on the streets is dangerous because you cannot be sure what it is mixed with or the exact level of purity you are receiving. Often street heroin is mixed with sugar, starch, pesticides, or other poisons which puts heroin users at an increased level of risk for overdose and death. Other common street names for heroin include: “smack,” “thunder,” “poppy,” “white junk,” and “dead on arrival.”
What is Heroin Detox?
Starting the healing process after heroin abuse requires the elimination of heroin in the body through a process called detoxification, or detox for short. This initial step in the treatment process is a vital part of heroin addiction recovery. Despite the unpleasant effects of heroin detox, there are numerous methods to ease the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that may occur during this practice. Heroin detox is the start of a new life without drugs, which makes it worth any short-term discomfort.
Drug detoxification describes the process of eliminating certain substances from the body. Once heroin is cleared from a person’s body, they will experience withdrawal symptoms or uncomfortable side effects. Withdrawal is the way our bodies demand more drugs during detoxification. Even though withdrawal from heroin is rarely life-threatening, it can be unpleasant, particularly for heavy and long-term users.
The majority of users experience their first withdrawal symptoms within six to twelve hours following their last heroin use. If a person stops using heroin cold turkey, without any medical assistance, withdrawal symptoms often reach their peak within two to three days after their last heroin use.
Why is Heroin Detox Needed?
The dangers of ongoing heroin use are significant, and every hit puts a person at greater risk. Heroin detox at a drug detox center helps clear the body of substances in a safe and controlled environment, with medical assistance, supervision, and the proper tools to handle situations as they occur.
Even though some people choose to detox at home, heroin withdrawal can be so intense that most people relapse instead of going through the discomfort. Aside from ensuring physical comfort, supervised heroin detox at a drug detox center also guarantees safety, and prevents relapse plus potential overdose.
What Happens During Heroin Detox?
A medical heroin detox typically involves a monitored detox period intended to address any psychological or physical complications that occur during withdrawal, ensure comfort and minimize relapse. Supervised heroin detox may or may not include medication.
Intake is the first step for any person to start a heroin detox program. It involves a medical evaluation that helps quantify a person’s level of heroin use and creates a personalized plan for detox and treatment. Evaluations often include questions such as:
- How long has the person been using heroin?
- Have they ever received treatment for heroin abuse?
- Do they take other drugs? If so, what drugs?
- Do they drink alcohol? If so, how often?
- Do they have other existing mental and/or physical health issues?
A comprehensive physical exam is given during intake to evaluate the person’s current health status. Similarly, their physical examination results and medical history, as well as their general evaluation, helps guide their treatment therefore complete honesty and openness are required for optimal results.
Treatment for Heroin Addiction
Treatment for heroin addiction includes medical detox treatments and behavioral therapies for addiction. For a treatment to be effective, it’s important to match the best treatment approach to meet the particular needs of each patient. Medicines are being developed to help with the withdrawal process. The FDA approved lofexidine, a non-opioid medicine designed to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Medicines to help people stop using heroin include Buprenorphine and Methadone. They work by binding to the same opioid receptors in the brain as heroin, but more weakly, reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Another treatment is Naltrexone, which blocks opioid receptors and prevents opioid drugs from having an effect. A NIDA study found that once treatment is initiated, both a Buprenorphine/Naloxone combination and an extended release Naltrexone formulation are similarly effective in addiction. Because full detoxification is necessary for treatment with naloxone, initiating treatment among active users was difficult, but once detoxification was complete, both medications had similar effectiveness.
Behavioral therapies for Heroin Addiction include methods called Cognitive-Behavioral therapy and contingency management. Cognitive-Behavioral therapy helps modify the patient’s drug-use expectations and behaviors, and helps effectively manage triggers and stress. Contingency Management provides motivational incentives, such as vouchers or small cash rewards for positive behaviors such as staying drug-free. These Behavioral Treatment approaches are especially effective when used along with medicines.National Institute on Drug Abuse
Heroin Addiction is a serious condition that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up rehab treatment & detox center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from heroin addiction with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.