Heroin is an illegal (illicit) drug that is categorized as a narcotic or opiate drug. It is an opiate due to the fact that it is derived from morphine which comes from a substance found within the seedpods of poppy (opium) plants. While morphine is a legal drug, heroin which has been chemically processed from morphine, is not.
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Heroin takes many different forms and has a wide variety of colors and characteristics that it may have. This makes it particularly difficult for people to always know whether what they are using is pure or cut with something else that can cause an adverse reaction.
Some of the forms include what is known as pure heroin, black tar heroin, and brown sugar heroin. The pure form is a bright white powder due to the precision in the chemical processing and the lack of impurities. Black tar is the most common form. It appears as a solid, sticky substance that has a black or brown tarry residue. Brown sugar heroin is a brown or blackish powder.
The most common method of use is through intravenous injection. This is why so many heroin addicts are recognizable to medical professionals and laymen alike based on the needle or track marks in their arms, legs, and even the neck and chest. Powder forms of this drug may also be smoked or snorted, but this is a far less common than injection.
Physical Signs of Addiction
Social Signs of Addiction
Mental Signs of Addiction
Residential treatment, in which a person suffering from an addiction, temporarily stays in a treatment center for a few weeks or more, is the best treatment option for heroin addiction. This is because it removes the ability and temptation to relapse until the treatment process is complete. This process begins with medical detox.
Medical detox uses the help of carefully administered prescription medications such as suboxone or naltrexone to slowly wean the body off of the physical addiction to the drug. The process also helps to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms as well.
Following the detox process, heroin addiction is treated with individual therapy and group therapy to help determine the original causes of drug abuse and addiction and to treat those causes as well as to develop coping mechanisms to deal with those issues without resorting to substance abuse.
Additional options in the treatment process include art therapy and equine therapy to help develop emotional and socio-emotional awareness and to channel emotions into healthy activities rather than abusing heroin, restorative yoga, chiropractic care and SMART recovery.