As with any drug addiction, the first step to recovery is to seek help at a professional treatment facility. In fact, it’s vital to seek professional help at a Heroin Addiction Treatment Center. Heroin addiction recovery and relapse statistics show that only about 35 percent of addicts successfully complete outpatient therapies, while more than 65 percent achieve lasting recovery in an inpatient setting


Whether you’ve heard or followed the stories of heroin-addicted celebrities such as Philip Seymour Hoffman; come across heroin addiction blogs, journal articles, pictures, books, movies, poems or quotes; or just seen pictures of heroin users, it’s obvious that the drug has been a significant part of our country’s culture for many decades. But beyond the sometimes “glamorous” stories of the famous or less-than-famous addict lies an endless series of heroin addiction statistics that point out just how serious and deadly this drug is for the many in the United States.

Heroin Addiction Treatment CenterThose statistics show that heroin abuse has remained steady and, in fact, is on the rise in our country. In the past three years alone nearly 700,000 Americans reported using heroin, especially in the young adult demographic of 18 to 25 year old. Additionally, more than 150,000 people reported that they began using heroin, nearly double the number of people who began using the drug only six years earlier. Heroin abuse is, for now, confined to 18-year-olds and above: Less than one percent of 8th-12th graders have tried the drug since 2005. But unfortunately, it’s estimated that some 25 percent of individuals who use heroin even once become dependent on it.

A member of the opioid class of drug, heroin is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of the opium poppy plant. The drug usually appears as a white or brown powder or as a black sticky substance— known as “black tar heroin”—and is most commonly injected, but can also be snorted smoked. Heroin is distinguished by how quickly it reaches the brain, where it is converted back into morphine and instantly binds to the molecules on cells known as opioid receptors. These receptors control the perception of pain and arousal throughout the body, as well as critical systematic functions such as blood pressure and respiration.

After an injection of heroin, users report a characteristic surge of euphoria accompanied by a dry mouth, a warm flushing of the skin, heaviness in the extremities and severely cloudy mental functions. After the initial “rush” they enter a state of alternating wakefulness and drowsiness, and it’s during this point that a heroin overdose is most likely to occur. Frequently, a suppression of breathing occurs and the amount of oxygen reaching the brain is significantly reduced in a condition known as hypoxia. Depending on the severity of the bout of hypoxia, there can be serious long-term psychological and neurological effects including coma and irreversible brain damage.

When heroin is used in the long-term—most often years on end as the user builds up a tolerance to the drug and begins taking more and more to achieve the same high—its detrimental effects on the body and brain become permanent: the brain’s white matter begins to deteriorate, leading to uncontrollable lapses in decision-making capacities, the ability to regulate one’s behavior and an inability to cope with stressful situations. Therefore, the heroin addict—unable to handle stressful situations—often retreats from the world and begins taking more and more of the drug to avoid dealing with the responsibilities of daily life.


Although the body and mind can recover quickly from the short-term effects of heroin use, the long-term effects can be permanent and, in many cases, deadly. The human brain adjusts quickly to the effects of heroin, and so physical as well as psychological dependence develops rapidly.

The cost of heroin addiction in terms of physical deterioration are numerous and varied:

  • frequent injections cause the user’s veins to collapse and lead to infections of the blood vessels and heart valves
  • Tuberculosis
  • chronic arthritis
  • AIDS
  • hepatitis C

Contagious infections are common among addicts that share needles. One study even shows that 70 percent of newly diagnosed hep-C liver infections are found in heroin users.

Additional long-term effects of heroin use include:

  • bad teeth
  • inflammation of the gums
  • frequent bouts of cold sweats
  • breathing problems
  • muscular weakness and partial paralysis
  • impotence in men
  • menstrual disturbances in women
  • severe loss of memory capacity and intellectual performance
  • tendency towards being an introvert and avoiding friends and family
  • a loss of appetite
  • persistent insomnia
  • pustules on the face
  • uncontrollable bouts of depression
  • short- or long-term coma state

Repeated heroin use also changes the physical structure and physiology of the brain, creating imbalances in neurons and hormones that are difficult to reverse. And as the white matter of the brain deteriorates, decision-making abilities and the ability to cope with stressful situations are compromised, and so the addict increasingly withdrawals from society and focuses on their addiction.

What is a heroin detox program?For women who are addicted to heroin during pregnancy there is a particularly tragic side effect: spontaneous abortions are common, as is a condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome which occurs when heroin is passed through the placenta to the fetus causing the baby to become dependent on the drug along with the mother. Babies born addicted to heroin exhibit excessive crying, chronic fevers and seizures, irritability, slow weight gain, tremors, frequent diarrhea and vomiting and, in severe cases, premature death during infancy.

With the physical cost of heroin addiction behavior comes a monetary and social loss as well. Once addiction takes hold, addicts are often unable to maintain personal relationships or careers, and their lives become an uncontrollable spiral of drug-seeking behaviors that ignore any legal or financial consequences—a heroin addict can spend up to $150 a day feeding their habit. In short, finding and using heroin becomes the addict’s primary purpose in life, and of all drug and alcohol addicts admitted to treatment facilities in the United States nearly 14 percent enter due to an addiction to heroin.



The signs and symptoms of heroin use and addiction are very prominent and noticeable unlike some other commonly abused drugs.

Because it is such a fast-acting opiate, the visual effects appear rapidly and are evident:

  • a flushing of the skin
  • dilated pupils
  • an immediate dry mouth sensation
  • fading in and out of consciousness
  • slowed breathing
  • unclear thinking
  • intense itching
  • nausea and vomiting
  • persistent constipation
  • skin infections
  • common illnesses
  • “track marks” on their body as the result of frequent injections.

Like these physical markers that often-signal heroin use there are also environmental signs that many friends and family members of the abuser detect: depending on whether the drug is smoked, snorted or injected, it’s common to discover various paraphernalia and remnants of the drug left out in the open—once a shot or dose of heroin takes hold there is not much time for the user to hide the evidence.

Heroin itself appears as a powdery or crumbly substance that may be off-white or, in the case of black tar heroin, a sticky substance. Related paraphernalia can include syringes, small glass or metal pipes, dirty spoons (used to cook the drug to a liquid form that can be injected) as well as belts or rubber tubing which help the user find a strong vein in which to inject themselves.

Although many heroin users report being able to function during the early stages of heroin use, the long-term addict has a difficult time living a life of normalcy. Like cocaine, alcohol, methamphetamines and other highly addictive drugs, the user will begin to make rash choices in order to secure the drug. Heroin addiction and crime is therefore a serious problem for many addicts: the most current statistics show that more than half of all heroin abusers commit a felony—aside from the possession of the drug itself—such as assault, rape, murder, petty larceny or armed robbery at some point, often as a way to obtain more of the drug and avoid the grueling effects of withdrawal.

When it comes to life expectancy with heroin addiction, the statistics are equally disturbing: one study noted that, on average, the long-term heroin user loses 18.3 years of their life before the age of 65. And unfortunately, the leading cause of premature death among heroin addicts is due to an overdose, as over time the abuser must increase their intake of the drug in order to continue its desired effects.


When an addict begins to experience planned withdrawal—ideally under the care of heroin addiction rehab—they can expect a wide variety of symptoms ranging from mild to potentially life-threatening. Those who have become physically dependent on the drug are often afraid to stop using it for fear of the symptoms that will occur, symptoms that can begin to develop as soon as a few hours after a last dose for the sustained user. Because the longtime addict is at risk of serious medical complications, they should be under the care of a medical professional from the moment they choose to stop their heroin use.

A typical heroin addiction timeline begins with intense cravings for the drugs, along with:

  • extreme sweating
  • nausea and vomiting
  • severe aches and pains in the muscles and bones
  • cramping and feelings of heaviness throughout the body
  • uncontrollable crying and insomnia
  • fever and diarrhea (as heroin naturally makes users constipated)
  • runny nose

Unfortunately for the long-term user, so damaging is heroin to the body that death from constant seizures, heart attack and stroke can occur if withdrawal symptoms aren’t closely monitored and controlled by a physician.

Additionally, heroin addiction and depression is a hallmark of withdrawal from the drug and the reason so many heroin addicts relapse into use. In fact, so chronic can an addict’s depression, hopelessness and despair be during withdrawal that the suicide rates among heroin users is more than 35 percent, and addicts are 14 percent more likely to commit suicide than non-users. The reason behind these statistics lies in the way heroin takes over the physiological systems of the user’s body and mind: once the brain becomes dependent on the euphoria that heroin provides, the cessation of that regular feeling can lead to a condition known as anhedonia, or the lack of the ability to find pleasure in everyday life. It’s very important therefore that a heroin addict seeking rehabilitation be assessed constantly throughout the recovery process for depression and suicidal intentions.

Fortunately, many recovery programs are equipped to deal with all the withdrawal symptoms a long-term heroin addict will experience. And of course, the addict’s chances of recovery greatly increase when they enter either an inpatient rehabilitation program or, at the very least, a comprehensive outpatient program where they are monitored and counseled and receive regular support from addiction specialists and other health professionals.



Heroin addiction treatment drugs are often a major component of and the first step towards recovery for the user, and have been honed over many decades because heroin abuse has been so prevalent for so long. The two basic types of medications include agonists—which activate the opioid receptors that typically shut down when heroin is suddenly withdrawn—and antagonists—which block those receptors to interfere with the “rewarding” effects heroin provides.

Are you looking for heroin rehab centers in Northern California?Perhaps the most well-known medication for heroin withdrawal is methadone, a slow-acting agonist that is taken orally on a daily basis. Used since the 1960s, methadone helps prevent many of the common withdrawal symptoms addicts experience by slowly easing the brain off the high heroin produces. Another oral medication, in use for less than 15 years, is Buprenorphine, which relieves the intense cravings addicts can expect to occur. Naltrexone, on the other hand, blocks the effects opioids such as heroin have on the brain, and can be administered once a month.

However, research into heroin addiction clearly demonstrates that combining these medications with behavioral treatments is by far the best course of action to prevent a relapse and help the addict achieve lasting recovery. Behavioral therapy most often takes a cognitive approach to treatment by helping modify the addict’s ability to cope with the various stress triggers of everyday life. During cognitive therapy, many recovering addicts are taught to use physical activities such as hiking, swimming and yoga as an outlet to relieve stress, alongside one-on-one counseling as well as group therapy sessions where addicts can share both their fears of addiction as well as their expectations for recovery and a return to a healthy and happy lifestyle.

As with so many drug problems family support for the heroin addict is vital to recovery, and therefore family members are encouraged to attend specific therapy programs that can help them deal with the changes in dynamics that occurred as a result of their loved one’s addiction. And often, it’s this support from those closest to the addict that can make the difference in the chances of a relapse or achieving a life free of heroin’s devastating consequences.


With the staggering numbers above, the need for a Heroin Addiction Treatment Center is even more prevalent. Therefore, Beacon House is proud to provide proper heroin treatment in Northern California. For example, our therapies for heroin abuse include:

With a combination of modalities, your treatment will include a structure you need and the support you deserve. Furthermore, each day you will attend meetings, counseling sessions, and addiction education groups.

Through this training at our Heroin Addiction Treatment Center, you can begin to find balance in your life. However, addiction recovery doesn’t end once you finish our program. Recovery is a lifelong progress that requires a daily commitment. Therefore, it’s important to remain active in the recovery community once you exit our facility. At Beacon House, we offer an Aftercare Program for our alumni to attend meetings and events weekly.


Has heroin abuse led to addiction in your life? Moreover, are you struggling to focus on your daily responsibilities due to heroin use? Possibly having health concerns as well? If so, Beacon House is here for you. Learn more about our Heroin Addiction Treatment Center today and make lasting changes in your life. Contact us now at 831.372.4366 for more information about our programs.