Heroin addiction has become a hot public health topic in the media and in town hall meetings throughout the United States. With the current opioid crisis, you may have several questions about this dangerous substance, including questions like, “Is Heroin an opioid,” among many others. Heroin is, in fact, a highly addictive opiate that isn’t regulated by the FDA the way prescription opioids are. As a result, many people who are addicted to opioid pain relievers are turning to heroin when they are unable to get the prescription medications. Unfortunately, heroin is much stronger and more dangerous than what a medical professional would prescribe.

Due to heroin’s viciously addictive nature, there’s been a meteoric rise in the demand for heroin treatment programs. At Serene Beginnings, it is important to us that anyone addicted to heroin gets the appropriate medical care and support. We can help you get clean.

Here are some important facts you should know about heroin:

Is Heroin an Opioid?

Yes, heroin is an opioid, it is also an opiate. It’s derived directly from morphine, which is a natural substance that’s extracted from the seed pod of the opium poppy flower. Naturally derived opioids (as opposed to synthetic opioids) are also known as opiates. Most opium poppy plants are grown and cultivated in Mexico, Colombia and Southwest Asia. Like other opioids, heroin can reduce pain and induce feelings of euphoria. It is not regulated like prescription opioids, which is one of the reasons it’s so dangerous.

What Are Some Other Names for Heroin?

Heroin has a significant number of nicknames, also known as street names. Some of them include:

  • Black Tar
  • White Boy
  • Big H
  • Smack
  • Horse
  • Junk
  • Brown Sugar
  • Mud
  • Hell Dust

Street names change all the time. Heroin is a white or brown powder, so even if you are told a substance is something else, you may be able to recognize it in that form.

How Many People Use Heroin?

Based on data from 2016, around a million people reported using heroin within that year. Heroin use is still on the rise, and between 2015 and 2016, the total number of people using it had more than doubled. Heroin use is particularly on the rise among young people, especially in urban areas with adults between the ages of 18 and 25. Around 1.8% of people have admitted to using heroin at least once in their lifetime. There hasn’t been a new data collection released in 2019, but it’s safe to say that heroin is a growing problem in the United States.

Why Do People Turn to Heroin?

Heroin is an opioid, and it has similar effects to prescription opioids. Many people turn to heroin because it’s less expensive than prescription medications and because it’s often more readily accessible. People who become addicted to prescription opioids may turn to heroin as a cheaper option.

In 2011, data collected showed that up to 6% of people who misused prescription opioids ended up switching over to heroin. Around 80% of the people who use heroin misused prescription opioids at some point in their lives.

How Does Heroin Affect the Brain and Body?

Like other types of opioids, heroin binds to the opioid receptors within the body and brain. When it does so, it triggers the release of dopamine, which then spreads throughout your body, giving you a sense of euphoria.

Short-term effects from heroin include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Profuse sweating
  • Severe itching
  • Difficulty concentrating or clouded thinking

Long-term effects from heroin include:

  • Insomnia
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Addiction
  • Depression
  • Collapsed veins
  • Heart infections

If the heroin dose is too high, there is a risk of overdosing and depressing the cardiovascular system, which can cause you to stop breathing and may lead to death.

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

Heroin can stay in the body and be detected by a drug test for up to three days. The duration of the high is usually 10 to 30 minutes. The high starts as soon as seven seconds following the injection of the drug directly into the blood, two to five minutes when injected into a muscle and 10 to 15 minutes when smoked or sniffed. Following the high, people may feel lethargic, tired or apathetic.

What Does Heroin Show up as on a Drug Test?

Heroin falls under the classification of an opiate, so a standard five-panel urine test will look for opiate use but won’t indicate which specific opioid registered a positive test result. Laboratories generally set a cutoff level of 2,000 ng/mL, which means some people may test negative for opiate use even if they’ve been using heroin. It’s certainly possible for some people to mask heroin use by having prescriptions for other opioids, which would explain a positive test result.

Heroin is quickly metabolized and not usually excreted in the urine in amounts that would show up on drug tests. Tests look for metabolites of heroin, including morphine and 6-acetylmorphine. Morphine is a metabolite comprised of a number of legal and illegal drugs, which can make it difficult for employers or medical providers to identify heroin use specifically. Most tests only look for the morphine metabolite. However, the 6-acetylmorphine metabolite is specific to heroin, so if you’re tested for that, it’s easier to identify heroin use.

Contact Serene Beginnings for Support with Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction is strong, and it can be hard to break free. At Serene Beginnings, we are here to help you every step of the way. We want to provide a safe, serene environment for recovery, so you can get control of your life again. Call us today to speak with one of our substance abuse counselors about our treatment programs at 855-947-0552. We look forward to working with you on your path to sobriety.