Tag Archives: overdose

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.

Heroin Claims the Life of Star Baseball Player, Michael Hutts

Baseball playerMichael Hutts, a young baseball star, suffered an overdose and passed away in 2008.

Family, team members and fellow students were shocked. No one wants to believe addiction and overdose touch those they love. This belief is grounded in love and well-wishes, but it is not grounded in fact. As CNN.com shares, “In 2010, there were 38,329 overdose-related deaths, and by 2015, that number had climbed to 52,404…One in four drug overdoses in 2015 was related to heroin.” Overdose happens. Overdose on heroin happens. It can happen to athletes, artists, students, parents and professionals. Denying the likelihood of overdose only allows these overdose death rates to continue to climb. Acknowledging the real risks of substance abuse and addiction opens the door to recovery. It saves lives and saves heartbreak.

People do not have to fit any mold or image of an addict to be at risk for overdose. If someone is taking heroin in any amount or any frequency, even if he or she does not seem dependent or addicted, overdose can happen. The Washington Post shares, “Hutts died less than a week after his best game of the season.” He was on the dean’s list. His school regularly tested athletes for drug use. Hutts wasn’t failing these drug tests. He wasn’t failing his classes. He appeared to be doing well. He didn’t fit the stereotype of a drug user much less the stereotype of a heroin addict. These outdated ideas and images of who uses drugs need to change. Assuming the worst about addicts leaves the best among us at risk. Individuals hide their struggles or believe their drug use isn’t a concern. Stereotypes create shame. They allow for denial. Both of these reactions to assumptions put lives in danger.

Individuals use heroin for many reasons. Hutts reportedly took heroin while out drinking with friends. Peer pressure strongly influences substance use decisions in teens and young adults. Drug and Alcohol Review shares, “Excessive drinking can result if alcohol use becomes an integral part of peer interactions…The overall prevalence of drinking in college socialisation may increase the likelihood that alcohol will become enmeshed in quality peer relationships. The student is thus regularly exposed to valued peers who both model and provide social reinforcement for alcohol use, probably resulting in increased drinking in social situations.” Hutts may have used heroin to feel as though he fit in or was part of a group. College students frequently include alcohol as a component of social events or social bonding. Substance use doesn’t build real connections or lasting friendships. It can provide a temporary sense of bonding, but this bonding is superficial and comes at great risk. Real relationships involve concern for another’s health and happiness. Health and happiness do not come from substance use. Michael’s House emphasizes community support. Treatment is an opportunity to build true, lasting friendships.

Street dealer for prescription pillsPeer pressure isn’t the only reason students and adults use alcohol, heroin and other substances. Hutts may have turned to alcohol or drugs to help cope with the pressures of being a star athlete and top student. Drugs and alcohol promise a quick escape from stress or anxiety. This is a false promise, as substance abuse and addiction ultimately exacerbate these issues. However many individuals are willing to experiment or self-medicate in hopes of an easy answer. Real solutions to balancing emotions and mental health issues come through treatment. Programs like those at Michael’s House specialize in integrated or Dual Diagnosis treatment. This treatment addresses substance use concerns as well as co-occurring mental health issues like depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder and more.

Substance use treatment needs to address co-occurring mental health and heroin use issues. It also needs to address multiple drug use. Individuals rarely use just one drug. Hutts was drinking and using heroin the night of his overdose. This isn’t unusual.

The University of Florida found, “Students who used alcohol exhibited a significantly greater likelihood — up to 16 times — of licit and illicit substance use.”

Alcohol abuse is dangerous enough on its own. It also paves the way to more and riskier substance use. Individuals like Hutts often use alcohol in combination with other drugs. Combining alcohol with heroin contributes to overdose risk. Both are depressant drugs and slow breathing and heart rate. Substance abuse and addiction treatment needs to address issues with any and all potentially addictive substances. Long-term healing comes from complete and comprehensive care.

Michael’s House is here for you. We understand the challenges you or a loved one faces. Our programs offer support for healing and long-term recovery. We provide integrated care and can address complex concerns like co-occurring mental health issues and polydrug use. Let us help you schedule treatment around college calendars or work or family obligations. We want to get to know you as an individual and create your customized treatment plan. Let us help you find the path to recovery that will work for you. Don’t wait for tragedy. Reach out to Michael’s House today.

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 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/30/AR2008053002675.html. “Report Shows Heroin Overdose Caused Death of Player.” Washington Post. 31 May 2008. Web. 7 Mar 2017.
3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2635065/. “How the quality of peer relationships influences college alcohol use.” Drug and Alcohol Review. 3 Feb 2009. Web. 7 Mar 2017.
4 http://news.ufl.edu/archive/2012/07/uf-study-shows-long-term-drug-abuse-starts-with-alcohol.html. “UF study shows long-term drug abuse starts with alcohol.” University of Florida. 10 Jul 2012. Web. 7 Mar 2017.