Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Heroin?

Heroin is a highly addictive opioid derived from morphine found in different varieties of poppy plants.

What Are Common Street Names?

Big H, Black Tar, Chiva, Hell Dust, Negra, Smack, Thunder

What Does It Look Like?

Heroin is typically sold as a white or brown powder, or as a dark brown or black sticky substance. It can also be found in a hard coal-like form.

How Is It Used?

Heroin can be injected, smoked, or snorted.

What Are the Short-Term Effects of Heroin?

Heroin is a fast-acting opioid that makes users feel euphoric almost immediately. Some individuals take the drug to fight insomnia, as heroin use can lead to drowsiness. Heroin can also cause unwanted short-term effects such as nausea, dry mouth, and respiratory depression.

Why Is Heroin Harmful?

Heroin quickly enters the brain, making users disoriented. Because of this, heroin has a high potential for addiction, causing those who use the opioid repeatedly to become physically dependent on it.

Long-Term Effects of Heroin Abuse

Repeated heroin misuse can lead to drug addiction and health problems, including:

  • Liver disease
  • Chronic pneumonia
  • Blood clots, stroke, heart attack
  • Kidney disease
  • Collapsed veins
  • Respiratory depression
Recognizing Heroin Addiction

Continued heroin abuse can drastically alter the brain’s chemistry, causing a dangerous dependence on the drug. Some signs of heroin addiction include:

Psychological and Behavioral Signs

  • Hostility
  • Delusions
  • Depression
  • Unnatural euphoria

Physical Symptoms

  • Dry mouth
  • Weight loss
  • Extreme itching
  • Respiratory infections
What Does a Heroin Overdose Look Like?

Because it is almost impossible for users to know the potency of the heroin they are consuming or predict how their bodies will react, heroin overdoses are common. Heroin is an extremely powerful drug, and for some, just one small amount can lead to an overdose. This is particularly true when combined with other drugs or alcohol.

Signs of Overdose
  • Delirium
  • Clammy skin
  • Discolored tongue
  • Low blood pressure and weak pulse
  • Convulsions
  • Intense drowsiness
  • Slow and shallow breathing
  • Blueish tint to lips, skin, and nails

Loss of consciousness and respiratory arrest are common during a heroin overdose. Immediate medical attention is required. For many, naloxone, a medication designed to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses, can be life-saving. In many cases, multiple shots of naloxone are necessary to revive the overdose victim.

Heroin overdoses can cause long-term brain damage or lead to a coma. Even if the individual has been revived with naloxone, additional medical treatment is needed.

How Do You Treat Heroin Addiction?

Heroin Detox

Due to heroin’s hold on the mind and body, medically monitored detox is a necessary first step in treating heroin addiction. As the body rids itself of toxic substances, severe cravings and withdrawals can occur. Detoxing under the supervision of a health professional helps to prevent relapses and increases the individual’s comfort during the detox process. In many cases, doctors can prescribe medications to help manage withdrawal symptoms.


  • Fever
  • Insomnia
  • Severe muscle aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Nausea and vomiting
Heroin Addiction Treatment

While detox helps to address the physical impact that addiction has had on the body, individuals who complete detox should participate in drug counseling through either inpatient (residential), outpatient, or medication-assisted treatment. Rehabilitation programs help individuals to further understand their addiction, relearn healthy behaviors, and gain relapse prevention tools.


While clinical treatments are the cornerstone of addiction treatment, supplementary wellness therapies can help fortify an individual’s foundation for recovery and better prepare them for life after treatment.

Those recovering from heroin addiction can particularly benefit from holistic therapies that help the brain and the body recuperate. Individuals who used heroin to self-medicate can experience pain relief through Acupuncture instead. Users who became dependent on heroin as a solution for their sleeplessness can alternatively combat their insomnia through Sleep Education. Those suffering from the bodily damage they sustained through their heroin use can rebuild their physical health through Cardio and Weightlifting.

doctor placing acupuncture

Full Body Acupuncture

(This offering is paused due to COVID. It will resume when it is safer to do so.)
Traditional Chinese practice that stimulates specific points on the body to re-balance energy, ease aches and pain, decrease…

Drug rehab patient sleeping.

Sleep Education

Tips and practices to promote deep relaxation and enhance sound sleep, allowing you to sleep better and longer while in addiction treatment and after.

Men at Mountainside rehab’s gym exercising to battle withdrawal symptoms.

Cardio and Weight Training

Series of endurance workouts and muscle-building exercises to help strengthen your body and improve your overall physical health.

For more therapeutic activities that encourage mental, physical, and spiritual healing, explore our Wellness page.


Heroin’s powerful hold on the mind and body can often cause individuals to experience severe cravings and debilitating withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug. These not only distract from treatment but, in many cases, can lead to a relapse or even an overdose.

For a better chance at recovery, individuals may choose to implement MAT into their treatment plan. Through MAT, individuals receive addiction medications that reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings, enabling them to stay on the path to recovery.


Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone)

Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone)

Highly effective prescription medication used in the treatment of opioid addiction. Available as a film strip that dissolves under the tongue, this addiction medicine needs to be taken daily under medical supervision.

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Sublocade (buprenorphine extended-release)

Sublocade (buprenorphine extended-release)

Extended-release formulation of buprenorphine used to treat opioid addiction. Available as a monthly injection, administered by a certified healthcare professional.

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Vivitrol (naltrexone extended-release)

Vivitrol (naltrexone extended-release)

Extended-release formulation of naltrexone used to treat alcoholism and opioid addiction. Available as a monthly injection, administered by a certified healthcare professional.

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To learn more about addiction medications, visit our Medication-Assisted Treatment page.

Addiction is isolating, but recovery doesn’t have to be. Let our team of medical, clinical, and wellness experts provide you with the care and support you deserve to overcome your addiction and reclaim your life.