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How to Help a Heroin Addict

More than 140,000 people used heroin for the first time in 2010, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. If you or someone you love is addicted to heroin, you're not alone, and there is help available. Because of the way heroin affects the brain it is an extremely addictive drug, so several treatment options are available for heroin abusers, and there are support groups and counseling to help you or your loved one. It is not a legal drug, so the best thing to do is to seek the help you need. For advice on residential treatment options, don't hesitate to call 1-800-943-0566 at any time.

How many people have used heroin?

United States

In 2013, nearly 5 million people in the U.S. reported having tried heroin at least once.

Total number of opiate users

  • Global: 16.37 million (estimated, range 12.8 – 20.23 million) (source)

What is heroin?

Heroin is a powerful opiate drug processed from morphine, which is extracted from the opium poppy. It is illegal and very addictive, and administered by snorting, smoking, or injection. (source) Heroin is one of the major illicit drugs produced and trafficked around the world. (source)

Other names for heroin

Heroin Help Quiz question 1
Is Heroin Addictive?
Heroin is an extremely addictive opiate due to how rapidly it enters the brain. It has both short-term and long-term effects. Short-term effects of using heroin include:

  • Feeling flushed
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Severe itching
  • Drowsiness

With long-term use, physical dependence increases. The long-term effects of heroin use may include collapsed veins, bacterial infections, and arthritis, which is why it's so vital to get help as soon as possible.
To know more about the harmful effects of Heroin use, give us a call today.
Heroin Help Quiz question 2


Average monthly spending on heroin

United States

Even among monthly heroin users, more frequent users will spend much more: $1,834 in 2010 for those who used 21 or more days of the month, compared to only $530 for those who used 4 - 10 days of the month.

Heroin Help Quiz question 3
What Are the Signs of Addiction?

Signs of drug addiction include needing increasingly larger or more frequent doses of heroin to feel the same effect. Other behavioral signs include mood swings, spending money on heroin that you can't afford, taking risks to obtain the drug, and neglecting your appearance. Physical signs of heroin addiction include small, pinpoint pupils, slurred speech, slower reflexes, sweating, drowsiness, diarrhea, and needle marks from heroin.

Heroin Help Quiz question 4

How many people are chronic heroin users?

United States

In the US, over 1 million people are chronic heroin users - a number that has held from 2000 to 2010.

Am I Addicted to Heroin?
A sign that you're addicted to heroin is if you experience withdrawal symptoms when you're not using heroin. Symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Cold flashes
  • Leg movements
  • Muscle pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

These withdrawal symptoms can be managed, however, so they are not an excuse for detoxing.

Quotes from heroin addicts

  • “I live in real fear that I'll relapse, and being so much older now, there's no way I'd survive this time around.” (source)
  • “My father died from addiction, we lost a cousin, I myself had numerous overdoses and helped prevent siblings from OD-ing…”
  • “Recovery from heroin addiction is almost a miracle. Because it is not only your body that screams for the substance. Your brain wants it too. Without heroin, emotional pain feels unbearable.”

Heroin-related emergency room visits

United States

Heroin can pose a serious danger to health, and over 250,000 people were admitted to emergency rooms in 2011 in connection with heroin usage.

Heroin Help Quiz question 5

How much heroin is consumed every year?

2008: Metric tons of heroin consumed in different countries and regions

United States

In 2008, Europe consumed the largest amount of heroin overall, at 88 metric tons.

How many people used heroin in the last month?

United States, aged 12+

Recent heroin usage remains relatively uncommon, with less than 350,000 people in the US reporting having used heroin in the last month in 2012 and 2013.

How many people used heroin in the last year?

United States

Over 600,000 people in the US reported using heroin over the past year in 2012 and 2013.

Am I addicted to heroin?

  • I am unable to stop heroin use
  • I spend money on heroin I need for necessities.
  • I’ve lost interest in hobbies and activities
  • I cannot imagine life without heroin

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to call us at 1-800-943-0566 today. We have the answers you need to get off heroin.

Heroin Addiction Treatment
Heroin abuse help is available. The exact treatment varies depending on the heroin addict, but one of the most effective treatments available is methadone. Once the patient has undergone tests for HIV, cardiovascular infections and hepatitis B and C tests, the addict will start detox therapy.

Methadone is a synthetic opiate that eliminates the withdrawal symptoms associated with ending heroin use. It also stops the effects of heroin. Buprenorphine is another prescription medication that has similar effects to methadone. While these can be addictive in their own rights, they are better than heroin.

Behavioral therapy is also used to help heroin abusers. Behavioral therapy is often used in conjunction with prescription treatments to help heroin users recover. Behavioral therapy styles include cognitive-behavioral therapy, which addresses destructive thought patterns and teaches skills for coping with stress. Contingency management therapy uses a points system that rewards recovering heroin users for remaining drug free. Behavioral therapy can take place in a one-on-one setting or in a group setting.

Another helpful resource for many is Narcotics Anonymous, or NA. NA is a nonprofit organization made up of recovering addicts. Groups meet independently and provide support and guidance while learning to live sober lives. Group meetings can supplement other types of treatment.

Heroin addiction help can take place in a number of settings. Outpatient treatment is when heroin abusers lives at home and continue their daily routines while receiving treatment. Residential treatment is when the heroin addict lives full time at a treatment center. This allows the addict to focus exclusively on recovery. For more information on the best residential treatment options for you, call 1-800-943-0566.

Number of opioid users receiving treatment

Access to opioid addiction treatment varies around the world, ranging from the single digits to over 95% of opioid users in some Eastern countries.

Physical and mental effects of heroin

  • Surge or rush of euphoria
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Warm, flushed skin
  • Respiratory depression

Lasting health effects of heroin

  • Injection is associated with HIV infection and hepatitis C
  • Collapsed veins
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Constipation and cramping
  • Breathing issues or pneumonia

Effects of heroin overdose

  • Slowed breathing
  • Blue lips and fingernails from oxygen deprivation
  • Convulsions
  • Clammy skin
  • Coma
  • Death

Effects of heroin withdrawal

  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Feeling of coldness and goosebumps
  • Severe craving for heroin

Yearly deaths linked to heroin use

United States

Heroin is a potentially deadly drug: in 2012, over 3,600 deaths in the US were connected to heroin usage.

Number of opioid overdose prevention programs using naloxone

  • 188 in the United States (2010) (source)

Heroin Help Quiz question 6
Call Our Hotline Today
Recognizing that you or a loved one needs heroin addiction help can be difficult and frightening. You don't have to deal with addiction alone, though. There are professionals available to help you or your loved one. Call our hotline today at 1-800-943-0566 to find out what options are best for you and your situation.

Heroin-related treatment facility admissions

United States

2002-2012, aged 12+

Heroin can be extremely addictive, and as of 2012, over 100,000 people were admitted to treatment facilities for heroin usage.

Need Help Understanding Your Addiction Treatment Options? Call 1-888-747-7155.