Heroin addiction can be fatal. As tolerance to heroin develops more and more heroin must be administered to support the individual's addiction until the addict is literally spending every waking moment in search of heroin in order to avoid heroin addiction withdrawal.
The symptoms of heroin addiction withdrawal are extremely uncomfortable. Heroin addiction withdrawal begins approximately four to six hours after the last dose of heroin is administered. Physical heroin addiction withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, diarrhea, low blood pressure, stomach cramps, leg cramps, vomiting, hot and cold chills, goose bumps and runny nose. The emotional effects can include depression, anxiety, insomnia, and loss of appetite. Cravings for heroin can last for months.
Methadone is a drug that has been used for several decades to treat heroin addiction by blocking heroin’s effects. Methadone generally entails the entire spectrum of opioid side effects, including the development of tolerance and physical and psychological addiction.
Heroin addiction can completely change the morals and integrity of its participants. It is not uncommon for heroin addicts to steal, lie, cheat, and even prostitute themselves to support their addiction to heroin.
One very grave danger associated with heroin addiction is the potential for overdose. Heroin purity is always uncertain. It is this fact that makes heroin addiction a life threatening activity. You never know the potency of the heroin you have just purchased and are about to administer. In fact, of all drug related deaths in 1999, 51% were by heroin overdose.
Just this past February, Attorney General Janet Reno admitted heroin is more plentiful, purer, and less expensive than it was just a few years ago. "If we do not counteract the heroin threat now," she said, "we risk repeating the terrible consequences of the 1980s' cocaine and crack epidemic." Authorities estimate that heroin addiction has increased 20 percent and worldwide production has grown sharply, even as other illegal substance abuse is declining.
Heroin addiction recovery is similar to the recovery from most addictive drugs, except that heroin addiction withdrawal can last several weeks to months. Attempting heroin addiction detoxification without professional assistance is not advisable and can be dangerous. Heroin addiction withdrawal can cause serious mental and emotional trauma including stroke, heart attack, and depending on the individual's physical condition, even death. Recovery from heroin addiction involves detoxification as an initial step. Secondly the individual should be willing to discuss the possibility of attending a drug rehabilitation program. The highest documented success rates for heroin addiction recovery are through long term drug rehabilitation programs lasting at least three to six months. This gives structure and support to provide long term recovery from heroin addiction.