What is heroin addiction?
The effects of heroin
Treating heroin addiction

What is heroin addiction?

Addiction to heroin can result in both physical and mental health problems, and the chemical changes in the brain can make it difficult for you to function normally. Heroin abuse can have a detrimental effect on your relationships and finances, as well as possible serious health complications and significant risk of overdose.

Heroin is powerful opiate that’s usually sold as a white or brownish powder. The drug is made from morphine which is extracted from the opium poppy. Heroin can be consumed a number of ways, by either smoking it, which usually the user heats the heroin on a surface such as tin foil and inhales the smoke. Injecting it, where the heroin is dissolved in water and injected, which often leads to overdose, and also snorting it.

The effects of heroin

Having an addiction to heroin alters the normal function of the brain, leading to compulsive use and noticeable changes in behaviour. The drug produces a “downer” effect, causing you to become relaxed and drowsy by slowing down the functions of the body, but could also have a feeling of euphoria. Heroin is a very strong drug, and the first dose could cause dizziness and vomiting. Short-term symptoms may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Flushed warm skin
  • Heavy feeling in legs and arms
  • Severe itching
  • Dry mouth
  • ‘Gouching out’ – A back and forth state of being conscious and semiconscious

Long-term symptoms could include:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Insomnia

  • Collapsed veins (from injecting)

  • Abscesses (from injecting)

  • Breathing problems, which include pneumonia

  • Liver and kidney disease

  • Risk of HIV/AIDS/HEP C (contracted by sharing needles)

If you have taken too much heroin your breathing will often slow down or stop, which can be life threatening and even lead to death.

Treating heroin addiction

Our expert recovery team at Steps Together, use a detox and therapy programme designed to provide all the support and care to help you overcome your heroin addiction. We understand that admitting your own dependency is difficult. However, at Steps Together, we believe that is never too late to seek help.

Through the detox programme, we will help stop your heroin addiction. While this may seem like a daunting prospect, our highly experienced recovery team are well equipped to guide you through the whole process. Alongside our therapy programmes, this enables you to overcome your own challenges and get your life back on track.


The detox period is the essential part of your journey towards your recovery. Although there will be some discomfort during this process, our expert recovery team will be on hand to provide constant support and supervision. Withdrawal symptoms you may experience:

  • Goosebumps and feeling cold (rattling)
  • Uncontrollable leg movements
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Feeling restless
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhoea