"The use of morphine in the place of alcohol is but a choice of evils, and by far the lesser." Cincinnati Lancet-Clinic. 1889
"Heroin will take the place of morphine without its disagreeable qualities." New York Medical Journal. 1901
"Some (heroin) addicts readily admit that they prefer methadone as their drug of abuse." International Journal of Pharmacology. 1975
"Clonodine has recently gained prominence as chemotherapeutic agent for the detoxification of individuals dependent upon…methadone." NIDA Treatment Research Monograph. "Research on the Treatment of Narcotic Addiction." 1983
Heroin Tolerance, Addiction, and Withdrawal
With regular heroin use, tolerance develops. This means the abuser must use more heroin to achieve the same intensity or effect. As higher doses are used over time, physical dependence and addiction develop. With physical dependence, the body has adapted to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms may occur if use is reduced or stopped.
Withdrawal, which in regular abusers may occur as early as a few hours after the last administration, produces drug craving, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, cold sweats with goose bumps ("cold turkey"), kicking movements ("kicking the habit"), and other symptoms. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose and subside after about a week. Sudden withdrawal by heavily dependent users who are in poor health is occasionally fatal, although heroin withdrawal is considered much less dangerous than alcohol or barbiturate withdrawal.
What are the symptoms of heroin withdrawal?
Regardless of dosage, these reactions may appear during heroin withdrawal:
- Increased heart rate
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Heart attack
- Sudden, sharp blood pressure increase
- Extreme depression
- Suicidal behavior
As withdrawal progresses, elevations in blood pressure, pulse, respiratory rate and temperature occur. Symptoms of heroin overdose -- which may result in death -- include shallow breathing, clammy skin, convulsions and coma.
Are there any other problems that can occur from heroin addiction?
Heroin can cause feelings of depression, which may last for weeks. Attempts to stop using heroin can fail simply because the withdrawal can be overwhelming, causing the addict to use more heroin in an attempt to overcome these symptoms. This overpowering addiction can cause the addict to do anything to get heroin.