Heroin Detox

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The Heroin Epidemic

Heroin is an opioid derived from the pain medication morphine, which naturally occurs in the seed pods of the opium poppy. The drug usually appears as a white or brown powder or in a stickier black form known as black tar heroin. It can be inhaled through the nose, injected, or smoked. All three forms quickly and effectively deliver the drug to the brain, making it very easy to get addicted, even after only one or two uses.

In 2011, the National Institute of Drug Abuse found that about 4.2 million Americans had used heroin at some point in their lives. An estimated 23 percent of users become dependent on heroin.

Symptoms of Heroin Addiction

Drug addiction is driven by a chemical dependency. When heroin enters the system, it is converted back to morphine and binds to opioid receptors located throughout the brain and body, particularly those involved in reward and pain perception. Long-term use reduces the amount of dopamine the brain produces. Dopamine is involved in a wide range of functions, including reward, motivation, and motor functions. A lack of natural dopamine forces the user to become dependent on heroin to maintain normal dopamine levels. Unfortunately, consistent use of any drug leads to tolerance, which means you have to use more of a drug to get the same effect.

  • Shallow, labored breathing
  • Visible track marks, injection wounds, needle marks
  • Appearance of distant eyes
  • Fatigue accompanied by periods of alertness
  • Slurred speech

  • Memory issues
  • Lack of interest in the future
  • Poor hygiene
  • Lack of motivation
  • Alienation from friends and family
  • Allergy-like symptom

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Insomnia

  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Mood swings
  • Bone pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigued muscles

Effects of Heroin Use

Heroin is noted for giving users a rush of happiness and good feelings, usually accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, feelings of heaviness in the extremities, and generally cloudy mental functioning. This rush is then followed by a state of alternating wakefulness and drowsiness, often referred to as being “on the nod.”

Along with this rush, heroin also offers a wide range of effects, including:

  • Dry mouth
  • Labored breathing
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Constricted pupils
  • Itching

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Dangers of Heroin Use

Heroin’s potency and high addictive potential can have a dramatic effect on all aspects of your health, wellbeing, and overall mindset. The dependency on the drug can lead to reckless behavior and ruin relationships with loved ones.

Studies have also shown that long-term heroin use can actually deteriorate white matter in the brain. This damage can lead to problems with making decisions, regulating behavior, and responding to stressful situations. Street heroin also often contains additives and other toxic contaminants that can clog blood vessels and cause permanent damage to vital organs.

Complications of Heroin Use

  • HIV
  • Hepatitis
  • Track marks
  • An increased risk of miscarriage
  • Infections leading to loss of limbs
  • Collapsed veins
  • Infection of the heart lining

  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Pneumonia 
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Overdose, which can lead to death
  • Depression /  suicidal ideation
  • Aspirating vomit

Medical Intervention for Heroin Addiction

Medical Intervention 

Combining medicine with behavioral therapy is the key to all forms of drug abuse recovery. Heroin withdrawal treatment helps you work the toxins out of your body, eliminate chemical imbalances caused by prolonged drug use, and curb withdrawal symptoms.

Some medications your doctor or counselor may prescribe for your heroin addiction include:

  • Buprenorphine – A partial opioid agonist, buprenorphine is designed to relieve heroin cravings without the high or negative effects associated with the drug.
  • Naltrexone – Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that blocks the action of opioids. This medication is most useful for those seeking complete abstinence or those who are in the early stages of addiction.
  • Methadone – Methadone is a slow-acting opioid agonist that reduces heroin cravings while blocking the effects of opiates. Methadone has been used since the 1960s to treat heroin addiction.



Heroin is a highly addictive drug, but detox can help you overcome your dependency on it and is the first rung in the ladder to good health. Many detox treatment programs lead directly into longer rehabilitation programs lasting 30, 60, or 90 days. Detox works the chemicals out of your system, but rehab gives you the tools to maintain a sobriety in the long-term.

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How to Find the Right Heroin Detox Facility for You

Georgia Drug Detox is dedicated to helping you find and select a detox program that fits your personal needs and gets you on track for recovery. It is important to complete your detox surrounded by supportive professionals who specialize in treating your specific addition, not just addiction in general. Contact us today at (678) 771-6411 and we will walk you through the process today.

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