How to Help a Heroin Addict

woman reaching hand out to help

Heroin has a long history of destroying lives. It can destroy quickly by overdose or it can destroy slowly by driving a person to the margins of society. While there are some “functional” heroin addicts who manage to hold jobs while continuing to use the drug, most lose their self-respect and ability to interact with sober society.

Many heroin addicts turn to crime to keep themselves supplied with the drug. They may also suffer physical deterioration. The deadening effect of the drug tends to eliminate their concerns about their own physical conditions.

Effective help is needed to enable heroin addicts to make it all the way back to a lasting, sober life. This help is now available in a form that does not require the indefinite use of substitute drugs.

Learn how Narconon can help heroin addicts overcome their addiction

Effects of Heroin Abuse

If you are trying to help someone who is using heroin, you may see the following effects from their use of the drug:

  • Dulling of pain and emotional responses
  • Sedation, lethargy, dopiness, sleepiness, and unconsciousness
  • Nausea, vomiting, constipation
  • Pupils are constricted
  • Euphoria, confusion, difficulty focusing

High doses can cause slowed breathing, slowed heart rate, coma, and death

Since heroin is an illicit drug that comes from South America, Mexico or Afghanistan, the user never knows how potent it will be. In recent years we are seeing more and more fentanyl showing up in batches of heroin which is like playing Russian roulette with your life. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. Another form, carfentanil is highly dangerous in that it is 10,000 times more potent than morphine. Just a few granules cut into heroin can be lethal.

Withdrawal is a Terrible Barrier to Sobriety

When a heroin addict tries to get clean, he may go through an excruciating, torturous withdrawal. While the severity of symptoms may vary, the general nature of withdrawal is usually similar.

One person described his withdrawal symptoms as watery eyes, runny nose, yawning, violent sneezing, chills, weak, sick feeling overall, depression, insomnia, twitching. He said did not suffer the vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps that many in withdrawal experience.

man in pain from heroin withdrawal

However, a second person stated that it felt like his bones were being crushed by a steamroller. He was in so much pain that he considered suicide.

Even if a person manages to get clean, he may never lose the cravings for the drug. He may remember the way he was not worried about problems when he was high on heroin. He may try the drug again and immediately be back in his old habit. The memory of his earlier cold-turkey withdrawal may haunt him and prevent him from trying to get clean again. Many people go through this pattern again and again.

Some People Think that Methadone and Buprenorphine are Solutions

To avoid these withdrawal symptoms, many people choose programs that substitute a prescription drug for their illicit supply of heroin. Despite the positive publicity on these drugs, they are themselves addictive, are abused by drug addicts and many say they are harder to get off than heroin.

The very worst thing about these drugs may be that the person using them to get off heroin is still affected by and addicted to an opiate. They may see improvements in their social conditions because they don’t have to commit crimes but they also don’t get to experience life without an addictive drug in their systems.

The Narconon Program Can Help

The Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program offers a humane, tolerable method of getting clean of heroin (or any drug, opiate or not) and then helping a person build a new, sober life complete with self-respect, integrity and life skills. It’s not a recovery that can be accomplished in just 28 days. It takes most people eight to ten weeks to come back to life and gain the ability to plan and achieve goals. Some people, especially those who have lost much of their lives to addiction, may require more time to recover.

Many people going through an opiate withdrawal at a Narconon facility say that it is the most tolerable withdrawal they have ever been through. Generous nutritional supplementation helps calm many of the symptoms they expect to experience. The worst pains and sickness may never show up at all because of the nutrition and one-on-one support of the staff. Gentle physical relaxation techniques and orientation exercises all help alleviate the usual desperate moods of the person in withdrawal.

Narconon drug withdrawal program

As soon as a person feels better, starts sleeping normally and has a good appetite, he moves into the remaining steps of the rehabilitation program. Here, he (or she) sheds the guilt and depression over what has happened in the past, and learns how to face—and even enjoy—the future, solve problems related to life and the achievement of goals, and make decisions based on strong personal morals.

When someone you care about wants to get off heroin, the kindest action you can take is to help him arrive at a Narconon rehabilitation facility where he can get plenty of support and complete a program with a long history of helping individuals overcome their addiction to heroin.