heroin overdose symptims

Heroin Overdose Symptoms

Overview of Heroin

Heroin is an extremely addictive opioid drug derived from the opium plant. It comes specifically from the opium poppy seed and is found in Southeast or Southwest Asia, Mexico or Columbia. The repercussions of using heroin can be life-threatening if severe enough. People who use heroin can become addicted due to its overwhelming high and extreme tendency to cause addiction.

“Although heroin use in the general population is rather low, the numbers of people starting to use heroin have been steadily rising since 2007”

Heroin was first introduced in 1898 by a company in Germany called Bayer Pharmaceutical and it was marketed as a treatment for tuberculosis as well as a remedy for morphine addiction. It was intended to be a better option for major pain than morphine, but it was soon found out that opium addiction was at least as bad – if not worse – than morphine addiction.

Side Effects of Heroin Use

The effects of heroin can happen soon after one single dose and last for up to a few hours. The way that heroin is used will affect how quickly it enters the body. Typically, injecting heroin into your veins or muscle will produce a quicker “high” than by snorting or smoking it.

The initial side effects include:

  • Initial euphoria and a rush
  • Itching of the skin
  • Flushing in the skin
  • Clouded mental state
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Heavy extremities

Heroin Overdose

A severe and life-threatening consequence of heroin use is overdose. When someone takes heroin, it begins to depress a person’s heart rate and breathing rate to the point that they will not be able to survive without the help of a medical professional.

“In 2015, over 13,000 people died of heroin overdoses in the United States. Heroin is sold illegally, so there is no control over the quality or strength of the drug. Also, it is sometimes mixed with other poisonous substances.”

An overdose can happen to someone who uses heroin one time, or it can happen to an addict who uses heroin frequently. Most people who use heroin use it in combination with other drugs such as pain medications or alcohol. The combination of these types of drugs can be very dangerous, and cause complications or overdose to happen.

It can be difficult to distinguish the difference between someone being really “high” on heroin and a person who may be overdosing from heroin. Someone who is “high” will display dilated pupils, sluggishness, slurred speech and drowsiness. Despite these symptoms, they should respond to outside stimulus such as loud noises or someone shaking them.

If you believe someone you know is suffering from a heroin overdose, it’s important to not leave them alone and to contact emergency medical services for help right away.

Symptoms of Overdose

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Pulse (heartbeat) is slow, erratic, or not there at all
  • Fingernails and lips turn blue or purplish black
  • For lighter skinned people, the skin tone turns bluish purple, for darker skinned people, it turns grayish or ashen.
  • Unresponsive to outside stimulus
  • Face is very pale or clammy
  • Body is very limp
  • Awake, but unable to talk
  • Vomiting
  • Breathing is very slow and shallow, erratic, or has stopped
  • Choking sounds, or a snore-like gurgling noise (sometimes called the “death rattle”)

Withdrawal of Heroin

Withdrawals from heroin can be uncomfortable due to the symptoms that occur from the lack of the drug in the body. Even if your withdrawal symptoms are not terribly severe, you will likely have a more comfortable experience going through them in a heroin treatment center rather than trying to manage them at home on your own.

Some of the symptoms of withdrawal can include:

  • Seizures
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Hallucinations
  • Restlessness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Cold flashes with goose bumps
  • High-blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Severe depression

Addiction to Heroin

Heroin is one of the most harmful and dangerous drugs that is out there, and although it is relatively inexpensive, people will spend hundreds of dollars per day to maintain their habit.

“Out of everyone who tries heroin for the first time, nearly one in four become addicted”

Heroin works by introducing specific chemicals in the brain that produce good feelings from higher amounts of dopamine and endorphins. The brain then, determines that these chemicals are causing this increase in arousal and good feelings that it craves more to obtain the same effects. This, coupled with the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that can happen when discontinued use, cause people to have a challenging time quitting their heroin habit.

Treatment for Heroin

Treatment for addiction to heroin will require many forms of therapy including behavioral counseling, support groups, lifestyle changes and possibly medication. There are inpatient and outpatient treatment programs available that will help treat an addiction to heroin.

“Due to the symptoms of withdrawal and the psychological grip heroin has on its users, a treatment center usually offers the best chances of a successful recovery.”

People who suffer from heroin addiction often have co-occurring disorders that require a dual diagnosis and special treatment in order to help them be successful with their recovery. Inland Detox helps our clients detox from heroin and/or prescription pain medication by following a detox protocol of stabilization, diminishing existing withdrawal symptoms and thoughtful counseling that leads to a long-term treatment plan after the detox process is complete.

Types of Treatment for Heroin

Behavioral Therapies

Meeting with a counselor or medical professional can help determine the reasons behind the addiction and develop proper coping strategies and methods to avoid using drugs.

Inpatient or Residential Treatment

The highest rate of success for treatment is typically someone who attends an inpatient treatment center where they receive round the clock care by trained staff and support teams. This allows the person to have the proper guidance when working through the feelings around their addiction.

Support Groups

12-step programs and other support groups are available to assist a person go through an addiction problem by helping a person understand that they are not alone, and other people have gone through a similar situation.


Some medications will ease the discomforts associated with withdrawal from heroin or help replace it while a person gets proper treatment and can quit completely.

Treatment for Heroin at Inland Detox

Inland Detox is a state-of-the-art drug heroin detox program located on a beautiful 2.5-acre campus in sunny Southern California. Our only goal is to help clients detox successfully before progressing into the next phase of treatment.

Our compassionate team has extensive experience in treating substance dependency and co-occurring disorders such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. We use our comprehensive knowledge of detox and addiction management to offer our clients the premier drug detox in California’s Inland Empire.

If you or someone you know needs help overcoming heroin addiction, please call Inland Detox at (844) 225-6453. Our approach to each client is unique. We offer not only a luxurious environment for our clients to feel comfortable in, but we also focus tremendously on aftercare planning. We want our heroin treatment clients to be successful in the recovery process long-term.