Heroin Addiction Myths

When learning about addictions to heroin, it’s important to understand the myths about heroin and differentiate them from the facts.

Understanding Heroin

Heroin is an illegal and addictive drug, which comes from morphine, a naturally-occurring substance found in the seedpod of poppy plants. The two most common ways by which people consume heroin are by snorting heroin and smoking heroin.

Pure heroin is most often found in South America. It is a white powder with a bitter taste. Black tar heroin is sticky, like roofing tar, and it is most commonly produced in Mexico. The dark color associated with black tar heroin is the result of crude processing methods.

Additionally, this impure form of heroin can be dissolved and diluted so that it can then be injected. Heroin is often sold as a powder that is usually white, though sometimes, it is more of a brown color. In fact, this is where brown heroin gets its name.

There are many slang terms heroin, including the following:1


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What Causes Heroin Addiction?

There is not a singular cause of an addiction to heroin. Instead, this type of addiction can result from a wide array of factors. For example, someone’s addiction may arise as the result of genetic, physical, or psychological causes of an addiction to heroin. Plus, an addiction to heroin is often comorbid with many different mental health disorders, including but not limited to depression.2

Heroin Addiction Health Conditions

An addiction to heroin can have many severe health consequences. For example, those who suffer from an opioid addiction may experience some of the following health issues associated with the abuse of heroin:3

Five Myths About Heroin Addiction

myths about heroin
By differentiating between myths and facts about heroin, we can debunk all of the inaccurate information.

Only Young People Abuse Heroin

There is a myth that heroin is only a young person’s drug. In fact, many believe that people will eventually grow out of using heroin in their late twenties. However, nearly one-third of heroin users are over the age of forty.

Furthermore, the average age range of people who die from an opioid overdose is the thirties. Teenagers make up fewer than five percent of all opioid overdoses. Moreover, people in their fifties and sixties experience more fatalities from heroin overdose than those in any other age group.4

Heroin Recovery Is Rare

One of the most dangerous myths about heroin use and addiction is that recovery is rare. Although relapse rates are sometimes around sixty-percent or more, the likelihood of an individual recovering is promising.5

For instance, studies found that only twelve percent of Vietnam veterans who were addicted to heroin relapsed within three years. Only two percent of these individuals were still addicted to heroin by the end of treatment.6

Smoking Heroin Is Less Dangerous Than Injecting It

In order to avoid the negative stigma of injecting heroin, one of the more recent myths about heroin use was born. Younger users of heroin believe that snorting or smoking the drug is less dangerous than injecting it.

However, snorting or smoking the drug is just as dangerous as injecting it. Furthermore, those who snort or smoke heroin may eventually resort to injection because their bodies will become dependent on the substance, and injecting heroin is thought to be more powerful.7

Heroin Makes Someone Addicted Instantly

While addiction rates are high, the myths about heroin addiction are usually inaccurate. In fact, many people will not become addicted to heroin instantaneously. Instead, survey data shows that about eighty percent of people who use heroin do not become dependent on it immediately. Prolonged use of heroin, however, may lead to addiction.8

Heroin Withdrawals Are Not Fatal

One of the common myths about heroin is that withdrawal is not fatal. However, withdrawals from heroin can be fatal. While death is not always the outcome, complications of severe symptoms can lead to death. Fatal heroin withdrawal often occurs as a result of dehydration due to persistent vomiting and diarrhea.9

Heroin Addiction Facts and Statistics

In 2016, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 948,000 Americans used heroin within the past year. Heroin addiction facts and statistics show that the addiction rate for heroin has been increasing since 2007. In fact, it is currently nearly seven times greater than the addiction rates back in 1999. In addition, adults between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five have collectively used heroin the most, leading to the highest prevalence of addictions to heroin to date.10

An addiction to heroin is a serious condition that impacts the social, psychological, physical, and cognitive areas of an individual’s life. However, heroin addiction is treatable.

What’s the Outlook for Heroin Addiction?

Although an addiction to heroin is serious and can lead to heroin overdose, it is treatable. In fact, there are heroin treatment centers out there and psychological professionals who are trained to help people recover. If you or a loved one are experiencing an addiction to an opioid, healthcare providers and psychological professionals can assist you with your recovery.

Lifestyle Changes Caused by Heroin Addiction

At first, an addiction to heroin can be difficult to identify. However, by understanding the myths about heroin and understanding addictions to heroin, individuals are one step closer to learning the truth about their behavior.

Over time, if the opioid use increases, it can be more noticeable and easier to identify addiction. Behavioral and lifestyle changes generally accompany an addiction to heroin.

For instance, those who inject heroin may exhibit needle marks across their skin. People who suffer from addiction may have a difficult time maintaining their health and personal hygiene as well.

When the substance addiction starts to interfere with their social life, career, and personal experiences, that is when the addiction needs to be addressed before it’s too late. This is because both withdrawing from social settings and isolating alone are two very common symptoms of people who in active addiction.

Heroin Addiction Treatment

Heroin Addiction Treatment
If someone exhibits signs of heroin use, it may be time for them to attend a heroin treatment center. Heroin rehab can help an individual learn how to cope with their addiction and overcome the negative impacts of the heroin drug.

Detoxing from Heroin

Heroin detox involves removing the drug from the body. Detoxification from heroin can be unpleasant as it typically involves several negative side effects. For that reason alone, people can benefit from the use of medication to help with the heroin detox process. By attending an addiction treatment center, professionals can assist people as they learn how to manage the symptoms of addiction during withdrawal.

Inpatient and Outpatient Care

Many heroin addiction treatment centers will have the option for inpatient care and outpatient care. While inpatient care involves the individual staying at the treatment center, outpatient care involves regular visits to the treatment center and working with professionals. It is up to individuals and family members to decide which treatment option is right for them.

Therapies for Heroin Addiction

There are many behavioral therapies for addiction. Heroin rehab can help an individual through withdrawal as they combat the effects of heroin.

Heroin effects can be damaging to an individual’s life, including their relationships. Undergoing behavioral therapies, such as contingency management or cognitive behavioral therapy, can help people be successful in the long run.

Support Groups for Heroin Addiction

There are many support groups out there for people experiencing an addiction. Support groups generally take a strength-based approach by showing the individual that they are not a heroin addict, but rather, they are someone who has an addiction to heroin. Support groups can help individuals cope with overdose and the effects of addiction.

Three popular support groups include the following:11