Facts About Heroin: What You Need to Know

Hopeless heroin addict.

Heroin. Just the name of the drug itself creates concern and perhaps a touch of morbidity in those who hear it. Heroin has been the bane of life for millions, one of the oldest and most deadly drugs still in use today. While previous generations will recount a time when heroin was considered a devastation in the U.S., no generation alive today suffered a heroin epidemic as bad as the one our country is faced with right here, right now.

With heroin causing the problems and claiming the lives on the order of magnitude that it has been, it is important to understand this drug, to be cognizant of it, to know what the drug does and how dangerous it is. It's important to know what the heroin crisis is like in the U.S. today. Knowledge equals power and the ability to control a situation, so the more we know about this drug as a community, the better we will be able to: a). help those who are addicted and, b). prevent others from becoming addicted in the first place.

Heroin; The Depressant

Heroin is a depressant drug. It takes people down, not up. When people take heroin, the substance slows the rate of messages traveling from the brain to the rest of the body. A rush of euphoria follows due to heroin’s effects on opioid receptors. The user feels relaxed, soothed, and very pleasant. The drug is a relaxant, a downer, not an energy-giver.

The first of many downsides, however, is that once the high fades away and the drug wears off, the user feels terrible cravings and withdrawals to have the drug again. On top of that, other activities that would normally produce pleasure cease to do so. The user becomes entirely dependent on heroin to not only prevent terrible withdrawal symptoms but also just to feel good. Heroin use takes away pleasant sensations one would normally get from any other activity.

Heroin; The Killer

Heroin is highly potent and highly dangerous. When heroin is mixed with other opioids like fentanyl, it becomes up to fifty times more potent and addicts easily overdose and die as a result of taking it. Heroin has been so altered, added to, and mixed in with other drugs that addict’s play Russian roulette every time they take it. They really have no idea what they will get.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heroin is extremely lethal and only becoming more so with each passing year. Currently, about two million people are addicted to heroin, and thousands more die every year from its use. The CDC estimates that about fifteen thousand people died in 2016 from heroin, and 2017 numbers have still not yet been fully tabulated.

Heroin; The Crutch

Hopeless addict in the abandoned house.

When people start taking heroin, they set off a chain reaction of events on physical, chemical, psychological, spiritual, and behavioral levels that all make them the worse for wear. Heroin affects anyone and everyone in this way. The drug does not discriminate. Rich, poor, young, old, the drug can be a hindrance to anyone and everyone, and no one is immune to it.

When people take heroin, they are taking it as a crutch, a coping mechanism to take their mind off of some other area of life that they do not want to face on their own. Heroin becomes a necessary life habit for them, a daily need that takes precedence even over such basic life necessities like eating, sleeping, and drinking. A person’s heroin habit will tear them from their job, their hobbies, their passions, their interests, even their very families. When all else is gone, heroin will even rob one of one’s own life.

Escaping Heroin

When people become stricken with heroin addiction, the only way to break free is with the help of a residential drug rehab center. A heroin habit does not have to be a permanent life sentence, but it will be if the individual does not get help.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.