Tag Archives: heroin

Heroin Addiction and Weight Problems

Heroin is an opiate drug that is synthesized from morphine. Morphine is a naturally occurring substance found in the seed of the Asian poppy plant. Heroin can be snorted, sniffed, injected or smoked. Heroin works in the brain, binding to opioid receptors to produce feelings of euphoria in the user. These opioid receptors also control breathing, heart rate and arousal.

Death from heroin overdose typically involves extremely suppressed respiration so that the person simply can no longer breathe because of the drug.

Heroin addiction can cause a variety of side effects.1 One of the most noticeable side effects is a rapid change in body weight. Heroin can cause both dramatic increases and decreases in appetite and weight depending on the individual through its effects on the GI system — like appetite changes and nausea or vomiting. Looking for these and other symptoms of heroin addiction can help you get your loved one the treatment he or she needs.

Signs of Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction happens when the body develops a tolerance to the drug and continually needs more to produce the same type of experience. Once tolerance for the drug occurs, the person abusing heroin feels he or she needs the drug to function at normal levels.

Tolerance and dependence quickly lead to addiction. The person addicted to heroin becomes more and more preoccupied and obsessed with getting and using the drug and is unable to control the amount he uses or how often he gets high.2 If you suspect your loved one is addicted to heroin, there are several side effects to look for.

Some side effects include the following:

  • Sudden and rapid weight gain or weight loss
  • Periods of increased energy or euphoria
  • Restlessness, inability to sleep
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Changes in clothing (to hide scars and needle marks from IV drug use)3

Noticing any of these symptoms in your loved one means it is time to get help.

>>> READ THIS NEXT: Start with Heroin Detox


Heroin and Weight Changes

syringeOne of the most common symptoms of heroin addiction is a sudden and rapid change in weight. This is because heroin suppresses the appetite. Most people who are addicted to heroin become dangerously thin — not only because the appetite is suppressed but because the person addicted to heroin will often sacrifice basic needs like food to be able to buy more of the drug.

Heroin can also cause severe nausea, which can lead to weight loss as well. Heroin users can sometimes see a rapid weight gain if they are also using other drugs like marijuana to control the nausea from the heroin use. Marijuana can stimulate the appetite, which can lead to weight gain from binge eating while using both drugs.

Finding Help for Heroin Addiction

Heroin is a highly addictive drug that can cause all kinds of complications to your health, including appetite and weight changes. If you or a loved one is addicted to heroin, we are here to help you. Our caring admissions coordinators are ready to answer your questions about heroin addiction and help you find the right treatment program for your unique situation. Please call our 24-hour, toll-free helpline, 760-548-4032, to get a new start to a drug-free life today.


1 Heroin.” National Institute on Drug Addiction, June 2018.

2 Tolerance, Dependence, Addiction: What’s the Difference?” National Institute on Drug Addiction for Teens, January 12, 2017.

3 “Signs of Heroin Use and Addiction.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, Accessed July 22, 2018.

5 World Countries with the Worst Drug Problems

Many Americans believe the United States is home to the world’s worst drug problems, but other countries actually experience higher rates of addiction. Making matters worse, many of these countries offer fewer opportunities for addiction treatment leaving many drug users homeless and hopeless.

News reports in America focus on the U.S. drug problem, primarily centering on the opioid epidemic. With around 3.8 million people misusing prescription painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin,1 and opioid overdoses killing around 33,000 people in 20152, there are many reasons to take immediate action.

Understanding the impact of addiction in other countries and how worldwide drug trafficking increases supply is also important. Countries with more severe addiction rates have an impact on bordering countries and make drug trafficking more profitable.

The following are five countries with severe drug problems:


Addiction rates in Iran are high compared to other countries, with a greater percentage of the country’s population using drugs like opium (including heroin) and crystal meth. The country does offer some methods for addressing the problems: methadone clinics, needle-exchange programs and charities that work to fight addiction.

But a combination of high youth unemployment and inflation along with cheap heroin from Afghanistan makes fighting addiction there particularly challenging.3 The country’s fundamental Islamic presence fights addiction with severe penalties, including putting some people with drug crimes to death. Recent movements are at work to end capital punishments for nonviolent drug offenders.4


The world’s number one producer of opium, Afghanistan is the center of the opium trade and now refines some of its opium into heroin. One news report estimates that 1 million people in the country are addicted to drugs out of a population of 35 million. Decades of violence and war may drive some people to drug use, while officials with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime point to a huge increase in cheap heroin as one reason behind the epidemic.

World surveys show 90 percent of all heroin used in Europe traces back to this tiny mountainous country. In addition to trafficking, the country lacks the ability to offer adequate treatment. People of all ages, including young children are addicted to heroin, but the country has a limited number of treatment centers, around 95 with beds for around 2,300 people.5


Intravenous drug use has become a huge problem in Russia – especially among teenagers and young adults. Russian officials say there are 1 million heroin users, although other experts believe the number is closer to 2 million. The country’s drug use rose dramatically after the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s.

Government officials do not support harm reduction strategies, such as methadone clinics or needle-exchange programs, favoring a punitive approach to drug use that incarcerates drug users. As a result, Russia has one of the fastest-growing HIV/AIDS epidemics on the planet. Rates of these diseases (caused by sharing dirty needles) rose faster in Russia than anywhere outside of sub-Saharan Africa.6

The United States

The United States is not a big producer or trafficker of drugs, but it is among the world’s top users of illicit substances. Americans are at the greatest risk of drug-related deaths and currently have the most people with prescription painkiller addictions in the world. Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in America with 22.2 million current users, while 3.8 million people misuse prescription painkillers. In addition, more Americans now report using heroin than in years past, while cocaine use remains steady.1

Great Britain

More than 15 million people in Great Britain report trying drugs, and around 3 million take them on a regular basis. The number of people using drugs, according to 2014 figures, is up compared to 2008. Most people in Great Britain do not report a problem with drug use, but 1 million do report current problems. Marijuana is the most commonly used drug, followed by amphetamines and cocaine.7


England is one of the number one users of illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin in Europe. Social mores in the United Kingdom make experimenting with drugs at an early age more acceptable. Teenagers and even pre-teens experiment with highly dangerous drugs at an early age.

Getting Treatment

No matter a person’s country of origin, it’s important for him or her to get help for an addiction. If you are looking for a reputable treatment center for yourself or a loved one give us a call today at 760-548-4032. Our admissions staff would be happy to answer any questions you may have about treatment for substance use issues.

Start the Journey Today!


1. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Retrieved Mar. 8, 2017 from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FFR1-2015/NSDUH-FFR1-2015/NSDUH-FFR1-2015.pdf.

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Injury Prevention & Control: Opioid Overdose. Retrieved Mar. 8, 2017 from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/.

3. The Economist reporters. (2013). The Other Religion: Drug Addiciton in Iran. The Economist. Retrieved Mar. 8, 2017 from http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21583717-why-so-many-young-iranians-are-hooked-hard-drugs-other-religion.

4. Mostaghim, Ramin & Bengali, Shashank. (2016). Iran’s growing drug problem: ‘No walk of society is immune.’ Los Angeles Times. Retrieved Mar. 8, 2017 from http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-iran-drug-addiction-2016-story.html.

5. Qadiry, Tahir. (2013). Afghanistan, the drug addiction capital. BBC News Magazine. Retrieved Mar. 8, 2017 from http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-22091005.

6. Oakford, Samuel. (2016). How Russia Became the New Global Leader in the War on Drugs. Vice News. Retrieved Mar. 8, 2017 from https://news.vice.com/article/how-russia-became-the-new-global-leader-in-the-war-on-drugs-ungass.

7. Mann, Jim. (2014). British drugs survey 2014: drug use is rising in the UK – but we’re not addicted. The Guardian. Retrieved Mar. 8, 2017 from https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/oct/05/-sp-drug-use-is-rising-in-the-uk-but-were-not-addicted.

Five Ways That Heroin Use Can Kill You

Heroin is a dangerous drug. You can overdose on it alone or in combination with other drugs. Use increases the likelihood of contracting infectious diseases like hepatitis or HIV. Heroin impacts mental health and can contribute to suicide risk. It puts stress on the body and damages organs.

Heroin Overdose Is Deadly

If you use heroin, you are at risk for overdose. Any use is dangerous. First-time users can overdose. Individuals who have been using heroin for years and believe they know their tolerance levels can overdose. Heroin overdose is a real danger. It is an increasingly common one. CNN.com[1] explains, “In 2010, there were 38,329 overdose-related deaths, and by 2015, that number had climbed to 52,404.” Of these, “One in four drug overdoses in 2015 was related to heroin. In 1999, just 6% of all overdoses were related to the drug.” Heroin overdose is not a rare phenomenon. It is not an outdated one or a problem of the past. Heroin overdose occurs, and it can be deadly. The only way to prevent overdose is to end heroin use. Michael’s House can help you or a loved one end overdose risk. We create personalized paths to health and freedom. We work with you to find effective evidence-based treatment options. By ending heroin use, you end the risk of overdose. Woman with heroin needle

Heroin Use Is Often Combined with Other Drug Use

Heroin is dangerous enough on its own. When it is used with other drugs, associated risks increase. As the Centers for Disease Control[2] (CDC) shares,

“People often use heroin along with other drugs or alcohol. This practice is especially dangerous because it increases the risk of overdose.”

This increased overdose risk isn’t rare. Most drug users are polydrug users. They use more than one substance at a time or use one drug to counteract the unwanted effects of another. The CDC continues, explaining that the people most at risk for heroin addiction are those already addicted to opioid painkillers, cocaine, marijuana and alcohol. If you are already addicted to prescription opioid painkillers, you are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin. You are likely to use more than one substance at a time and therefore increase your risk of overdose and other health complications.

Heroin Use Increases Risk of Infectious Disease

Using heroin puts you at risk for contracting infectious diseases like Hepatitis B and C and HIV. Untreated hepatitis leads to liver failure or liver cancer. HIV leads to AIDS and destroys the immune system. These health conditions are treatable and manageable. Without this treatment, they can kill you. The Centers for Disease Control[3] (CDC) shares, “Nearly 13,000 people with AIDS in the United States die each year.” The National Institute on Drug Abuse[4] (NIDA) shares, “During the next 40–50 years, 1 million people with untreated chronic Hepatitis C (HCV) infection will likely die from complications related to their HCV.” Additionally individuals with one infectious disease are likely to struggle with another. The CDC continues, “Of people with HIV in the United States, about 25% are coinfected with HCV, and about 10% are coinfected with HBV. About 80% of people with HIV who inject drugs also have HCV.”

These statistics matter to heroin users. Intravenous drug use greatly increases the likelihood of contracting hepatitis, AIDS, and other communicable diseases. Even if individuals do not inject heroin, drug use impacts judgement and inhibitions. Users are more likely to engage in unprotected sex and have multiple partners. They are more likely to have accidents or injuries where blood-related safety isn’t a priority. Heroin doesn’t have to kill you directly. It can open the door for other diseases to do so. This is why addiction treatment begins with a complete health assessment. Treatment at Michael’s House does more than address immediate drug use. It involves complete physical care. Medical professionals are available during and after withdrawal. They help patients manage any co-occurring physical health concerns. You leave treatment healthier than when you enter it. You leave protected from many infectious disease risks. You learn to take control of your health and your future. You can live a long, healthy and enjoyable life by ending heroin use and seeking treatment.

Heroin Use Increases Suicide Risk

Heroin can kill through its relationship to suicide. Addiction[5] shares, “Heroin users are 14 times more likely than peers to die from suicide. The prevalence of attempted suicide is also many orders of magnitude greater than that of community samples.” Heroin users are more likely to try to commit suicide than non-heroin using peers. They are also more likely to succeed. Addiction explains why heroin users are more at risk for suicide: “The major general population risk factors for suicide also apply to heroin users (gender, psychopathology, family dysfunction and social isolation). Heroin users, however, have extremely wide exposure to these factors. They also carry additional risks specifically associated with heroin and other drug use.”

Heroin users face the same challenges to mental health and happiness as the general population. They have the added stress, influence, and pressures of heroin. Heroin impacts mental health, creates new lows, and provides easy access to methods for self-harm. Heroin affects relationships that would otherwise support mental health. It impacts finances and employment. It can leave individuals feeling lost and alone, although this is never the case. Michael’s House is always available, and through treatment users can rebuild relationships with loved ones. You forge new, healthy friendships with peers in recovery. You have 24-hour, long-term access to our professionals. You can reach out and find support at any time.

Heroin Stresses Overall Health

Hands with IV line hospital

Heroin use puts your health at risk. Overdose creates immediate physical risk. Use increases the likelihood of contracting communicable diseases. Additionally long-term use leads to an accumulation of side effects and internal damage. Heroin users may experience bacterial infections in blood vessels, skin, or heart. Infections may travel to or appear in other vital organs and lead to the death of cells in these organs. When you struggle with addiction, you are unlikely to eat well or stay physically active. You are unlikely to participate in self-care and treat your mind, body and spirit as they should be. Michael’s House can include nutritional counseling as part of your overall treatment plan. We can help you restore balance and learn how eating well is related to feeling good and staying healthy. We can help you explore ways of staying active. This can involve traditional exercise. It doesn’t have to. You can do yoga, hike, dance, or find the activities that are fun for you. We are here any time to help you create your customized path to wellness. Heroin robs you of your overall health. It doesn’t have to rob you of your life. Take action, and take back control.

Heroin Doesn’t Have to Kill You

You don’t have to live in fear of overdose. You can avoid contracting infectious diseases or learn to manage the ones you face. You don’t have to despair or damage your body. You can find recovery and health. Call Michael’s House to learn about comprehensive, holistic treatment. Our professionals combine the best mental, physical and addiction health care. We offer a clear path away from heroin. You can save your life or the life of a loved one. Reach out to us today and learn more.

[1] http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/24/health/heroin-overdose-study/. “25% of All Overdoses Are from Heroin.” CNN.com. 24 Feb 2017. Web. 7 Mar 2017.

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/heroin/. “Today’s Heroin Epidemic.” Centers for Disease Control. 7 Jul 2015. Web. 7 Mar 2017.

[3] https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/pdf/library_factsheets_HIV_and_viral_Hepatitis.pdf. “HIV and Viral Hepatitis.” Centers for Disease Control. Mar 2014. Web. 7 Mar 2017.

[4] https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/viral-hepatitis-very-real-consequence-substance-use. “Viral Hepatitis—A Very Real Consequence of Substance Use.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. May 2013. Web. 7 Mar 2017.

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12410779. “Suicide among heroin users: rates, risk factors and methods.” Addiction. Nov 2002. Web. 8 Mar 2017.