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The Devastating Effects of Heroin Abuse

Annual deaths involving heroin represent more than four deaths for every 100,000 Americans.

Heroin is a highly addictive and dangerous drug that dramatically harms a person’s physical, mental, and emotional health. The abuse of this drug is associated with severe health risks and social problems.

Contact Recovery Centers of America Today

If you are struggling with heroin, it is essential to seek medical help and support immediately. Recovery Centers of America’s team of medical and mental health professionals is here to provide comprehensive addiction care to help you overcome substance use disorder and achieve long-term recovery.

  • Contact 1-800-RECOVERY to speak with a treatment advocate 24/7/365
  • No cost intervention services available exclusively through RCA
  • Verify your insurance benefits here
  • One of our transportation specialists will pick you up wherever you are in 2 hours or less

Don’t wait another day to get the help you need. Contact the RCA team today to begin the journey towards a healthy, fulfilling life. We are committed to supporting you every step of the way, providing personalized treatment options and evidence-based therapies to help you achieve your goals.

Together, we can overcome your heroin addiction and build a brighter future.

Contact Recovery Centers of America now and take the first step towards long-lasting recovery.


Recovery from heroin is possible with professional help, and support from family and loved ones. It’s essential to seek professional treatment to overcome heroin addiction, and Recovery Centers of America provides comprehensive support and care that is both empathetic and effective. 

At RCA, we identify the SOURCE of addiction and offer customized treatment that eliminates the SYMPTOMS and addresses the day-to-day societal CONTRIBUTORS that get in the way. 

Our clinical treatment program includes:

  • Diagnostic assessment: A healthcare professional will assess the severity of addiction, including physical and mental health, family history, and co-occurring disorders.
  • Medically monitored detoxification in a safe and comfortable environment
  • Individualized Treatment Plan: Addiction treatment can include a range of services, including medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapy, group therapy, and family therapy.
  • Skills-based coaching: The development of skills and strategies to prevent relapse and address triggers or temptations that may arise during recovery.
  • Introduction to the 12-step program: Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous can provide encouragement and support from others who have experienced a similar struggle.
  • Alumni Services: A supportive community of individuals who are in recovery that offer continued support, networking opportunities, and resources to help maintain long-term recovery.

Our caring and experienced staff are dedicated to providing personalized care to each person struggling with addiction to promote a healthy and sustainable recovery.

Don’t let heroin control your life – contact Recovery Centers of America today to get the help you or your loved one needs to start on the path to recovery.

Heroin Related Deaths

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), deaths involving heroin have increased by over five times since 2010, with a record 14,019 deaths in 2019 alone.

14,000 Americans die annually from overdosing on heroin

The number of heroin-involved overdose deaths was nearly seven times higher in 2020 than in 1999

Nearly 20% of all opioid deaths involve heroin

How Heroin Negatively Impacts Your Life


Heroin abuse can cause devastating physical effects on the body, including respiratory depression, infections at injection points, and liver disease, leading to fatal overdoses. Long-term use can lead to chronic pain, collapsed veins, sepsis, and heart damage.


Heroin abuse can cause severe psychological problems, including mood swings, anxiety, and depression. The drug can alter brain chemistry, leading to memory problems, poor decision making, and behavior abnormalities, affecting one’s ability to sustain interpersonal relationships.


Heroin addiction causes severe financial strain as individuals prioritize the purchase of the drug over other essential needs such as bills, food, and rent, leading to bankruptcy, loss of employment, and other financial hardships.


Heroin addiction often causes social isolation, separation from family and friends, and inability to engage in social and professional requirements due to excessive drug use. It also creates a significant risk of legal problems that can damage reputation and standing in the community.

What is the chemistry of heroin?

Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance taken from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Heroin can be a white or brown powder, or a black sticky substance known as black tar heroin.

Heroin is technically considered an opioid not an opiate, since it is chemically manufactured, although molecules from the opium plant are used in the process. Some of heroin’s active ingredient molecules are not found in nature.

Heroin enters the brain rapidly and changes back into morphine. It binds to opioid receptors on cells located in many areas of the brain, especially those involved in feelings of pain and pleasure. Opioid receptors are also located in the brain stem, which controls important processes, such as blood pressure, arousal, and breathing.

Heroin is manufactured from opium poppies cultivated in four primary source areas: South America, Southeast and Southwest Asia, and Mexico. Afghanistan now produces the majority of the world’s heroin, but little or none of the Afghanistan heroin reaches the US. Although 10 years ago, the US got 90% of its heroin from Columbia, today we get 90% of our heroin from Mexico (up from 10% in 2003).

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Heroin’s long history

Heroin actually has a very interesting history. Heroin (as well as morphine, and other opiates) trace their origins to a single plant—the opium poppy plant. The earliest reference to opium use and cultivation of opium poppies comes from Mesopotamia around 3400 B.C. Narcotic drugs have been used both recreationally and as a medicine for centuries. Opium-based medicines, including morphine, have been widely used as pain relievers. Heroin, too, was first synthesized for medical use before physicians realized its overwhelming addictive properties.

Opium grew in popularity when it was introduced to China and other parts of Asia, likely in the 6th or 7th century A.D. through trade along the Silk Road, which connected the Mediterranean cultures of Europe to central Asia, India, and China.

There were actually two “opium wars,” – the first was in the 1700s when the British empire conquered a major poppy-growing region in India and began to smuggle opium from India into China. The second was when the British and French fought against China to make opium trade legal in China (between 1856-1860).

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Can heroin be prescribed in the US?

Heroin is a schedule I drug secondary to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) – the statute establishing federal U.S. drug policy under which the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of certain substances is regulated. The CSA was passed in 1970. The Act created five Schedules (classifications), with varying qualifications for a substance to be included in each.

A substance meets criteria for Schedule I classification if:

The drug/substance has a high potential for abuse.

The drug/substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

That said, as already noted, heroin was initially considered a potential cure for morphine addiction, before its high propensity for addiction was recognized. Early heroin marketing also recommended it as treatment for tuberculosis and other diseases with coughing symptoms.

How is heroin used?

In the past 50 years, Heroin has predominantly been g snorted, smoked, and injected, usually in that order. As use progresses as well as the need for more of the drug to stave off withdrawal increases, users used to progress from the less aggressive routes to the higher intensity routes of administration (snorting to IV injection). It was rare to see someone who either who moved from initial use of snorting to IV injections quickly and even more rare to see a patient that started using Heroin by injection. Today, due to the level of dependency on opioids caused by prescription drugs and the new social norms that are more accepting of injection use, it is not uncommon for users to mover directly from prescription opioid abuse and dependence, to injecting heroin.

Seventy-five percent of people addicted to heroin say they were introduced to opioids through prescription drugs, and 94% of people in treatment for opioid addiction say they turned to heroin because prescription drugs were more expensive. It’s currently estimated that 600 people in the US try heroin for the first time every day.

What are the signs of heroin use?

Signs of Heroin use and addiction include: itchy skin and constant scratching, chronic drowsiness or grogginess, dry mouth, impaired judgment, lowered body temperature, slowed breathing and heart rate, constricted pupils, vomiting, evidence of drug paraphernalia such as burnt spoons, syringes, injection kits, sleep difficulties, malnutrition, long sleeves worn in warm weather (to hide needle marks), withdrawal from others, loss of motivation or diminished plans for the future, spending money for undisclosed purposes, “losing” one’s own or a friend’s property, needing increasing amounts of the drug to feel the same effect, inability to cut down, and continued use despite negative consequences.

Symptoms of withdrawal include: runny nose, painful muscle spasms, severe abdominal cramps, body tremors, pounding heart, rapid breathing, heavy perspiration, chills, anxiety, irritability, severe nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and extreme fatigue.

Symptoms of overdose include: shallow or labored breathing, weak pulse, pinpoint pupils, bluish tinge to lips and fingers, delirium, and unconsciousness. Call for emergency medical help immediately; a heroin overdose is potentially life-threatening. After the immediate danger is dealt with, do everything possible to persuade the patient to continue to heroin and treatment. He/she is at high risk of overdosing again.

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