Heroin and Fentanyl Addiction
By the time they reach 12 years old, many teenagers have already tried heroin or fentanyl. These drugs are considered the most epidemic in modern history, and they are extremely addictive. Withdrawing from heroin and fentanyl can be deadly (due to severe vomiting and diarrhea causing dehydration and electrolyte imbalances leading to cardiac failure), and treatment requires experienced physicians and nurse practitioners who can help addicts go through the detox process safely.
What is Heroin and Fentanyl?
Heroin is classified as an opioid, which is a substance that is derived from morphine. Many prescription pain medications are also classified as opioids, so this demonstrates the power of morphine-based drugs. Characteristics of heroin are:
- A sticky, black substance, known as black tar heroin
- White or brownish powder
- Smack, junk, horse and dope are street names for heroin
- A combination of crack cocaine and heroin is known as “speedball”
- Snorted, smoked or injected
Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use as an analgesic (pain relief) and anesthetic. It is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin as an analgesic. It is not produced in pills or powder by any pharmaceutical company. Characteristics of fentanyl are:
- On the street it is known as Apace, China Girl, China Town, Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfellas, Great Bear, He-Man, Jackpot, King Ivory, Murder 8, Poison and Tango & Cash
- Snorted/sniffed, smoked, orally by pill or tablet, spiked onto blotter paper, patches, sold alone or in combination with heroin and other substances, has been identified in fake pills, mimicking pharmaceutical drugs such as oxycodone.
- Extremely deadly because pills are manufactured by drug dealers not pharmaceutical companies. The same batch can contain pills with no fentanyl all the way to pills with deadly doses.
- Fentanyl use increased 900% in Utah between 2019 and 2020 alone.
What is Heroin or Fentanyl Addiction?
The attraction of heroin or fentanyl lies in the drug’s ability to produce an immediate high. Once inside the brain, heroin becomes morphine and triggers areas that are responsible for arousal, blood pressure and breathing. After the initial rush of heroin or fentanyl, a person may experience:
- Dry mouth
- Foggy mental function
- A condition known as “on the nod” in which the individual transitions between unconsciousness and consciousness
- Skin flushing
- A heavy feeling in the feet and hands
The initial rush of these drugs is what tantalizes users, and they may continue to use the drug just to experience that short sensation. As the person continues to chase that high, the brain is quickly adapting to the presence of the drug, and the person becomes physically and emotionally dependent on the substance.
What are the Signs of Heroin or Fentanyl Addiction?
Physical signs of opioid addiction (withdrawal) are:
- Uncontrolled muscle movements and twitches
- Drug craving
- Feeling cold
- Goose bumps
- Muscle and bone pain
What Changes in Behavior May Be Caused by Heroin or Fentanyl Addiction?
A person who is addicted to heroin or fentanyl may:
- Forget important dates and appointments
- Be disoriented and confused
- Have periods of excessive energy that are quickly followed by fatigue and lethargy
- Wear heavy clothing in warm weather
How Does Heroin or Fentanyl Addiction Affect the Body?
The short-term physical effects are:
- Small pupils
- Short of breath
- Sudden weight loss
- Cold intolerance
Long-term use of opioids may lead to:
- Abscesses from infected injection sites
- Lung diseases and pneumonia
- Heart damage
- Collapsed veins
- Stomach pain
- Chronic diseases, such as Hepatitis C or HIV, that are acquired by sharing needles
- Overdose death due to respiratory suppression
Do I Need Professional Help for My Heroin or Fentanyl Addiction?
These drugs are highly addictive, so even if you have only tried the drug one time, it may be difficult to stop. When opioid use advances to abuse and addiction, your body has adapted to the presence of the drug. As such, you may experience serious withdrawal symptoms that are painful and potentially life-threatening. These symptoms are enough to keep most users trapped in their heroin addictions. With our help, though, you can remove the drug from your body safely and effectively and then you will receive exceptional long term medical treatment to maintain your sobriety.
The initial “rush” of heroin amd fentanyl is likely what kept you in a circle of use, but once addiction took hold, you no longer had control. We understand the cycle of addiction and the nature of heroin and fentanyl, so we can provide the compassionate support you need to address and overcome your addiction.