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Heroin Addiction: Is it a Death Sentence Without Treatment?

When someone takes their first hit of heroin, that moment defines what the rest of their life will become. In fact, research shows that one in four people who try heroin become addicted. The drug is so addictive that it is classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the DEA, meaning it has no accepted medical use and is highly addictive. It is reputed to be one of the most addictive and destructive illicit drugs available today. The euphoric effects of heroin vary in duration depending a variety of factors such as the method of ingestion and the person’s physical condition, so, how often do heroin addicts need a fix?

Studies suggest that heroin has a half-life of about 30 minutes, which is longer than the effects of cocaine or meth. In other words, it takes this long for half of the drug to be flushed out of the person’s system. The “high” a person gets can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 4 hours, depending on the method of ingestion.

Factors That Determine How Long Heroin Effects Last:

Route of administration:

  • Intravenous: effects can be felt in as little as 20 seconds and can last up to 4 hours.
  • Smoking: effects peak within 10 minutes and last for only about 5 minutes, with an overall duration of about 5 hours.
  • Snorting: effects begin within 10 to 15 minutes

Other factors:

  • Amount taken
  • Quality of the drug
  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Height and weight
  • Body fat
  • Liver and kidney health
  • Metabolism

When the euphoric effects begin to wear off, the person will feel drowsy, relaxed, and disconnected from reality.

How Much Heroin Does an Addict Need Each Day?

Each person reacts to heroin differently; therefore, it is difficult to determine an exact amount that is needed or used each day. Some studies show that recreational users take doses that range from 5 mg up to 1,500 mg with the average daily dose estimated at 300 to 500 mg. For addicts, the average heroin use per day ranges from two to four injections a day. Of course, many factors can influence how much heroin an addict uses daily. For instance:

  • Purity of the drug (some heroin is cut with sugar, starch, powdered milk, etc. which weaken the effects of the drug)
  • Presence of other drugs in the heroin such as methamphetamine, cocaine, ketamine, etc.)
  • Co-administration with other drugs such as alcohol, MDMA, cocaine, etc.
  • Length of time the person has been using heroin (long time users require more)
  • Cost (depending on purity, one gram sold on the streets averages $15 to $20. Some hard-core addicts spend as much as $150 to $200 a day to support their habit.)

To understand why opiate addicts switch to heroin, compare the price. For instance, on the street, one OxyContin tablet goes for about $80. The average rate for painkillers in general ranges from $60 to $100 per tablet.

What Does Being a Heroin Addict Feel Like?

Most people have read about the physical effects of heroin on a person’s body. Many of us have seen before and after pictures of heroin addicts and are appalled by what we see. But, few people have any idea how it feels to be a heroin addict. Reading a list of side effects doesn’t really tell us what a person experiences on a personal level when heroin is working its spell. Nor does reading that list give us a true sense of what the withdrawals feel like to a heroin addict. We can search online and read personal stories written by recovered heroin addicts and the things they describe are almost unbelievable.

One anonymous recovering heroin addict describes his addiction as watching himself slowly killing himself and not being able to stop it. He goes on to say that it doesn’t just kill your body, it destroys your personality, your soul, your emotions, your entire self. Then, he says that it doesn’t stop there. It goes on to destroy your relationships, your career, your health, and any dreams you had for the future. Next, he admits that he would have gone through hell to get his next fix, and eventually found himself in and out of jail, homeless, lost, alone, sick, empty. Going through each day finding new ways of satisfying the intense cravings. Feeling guilty for putting his friends and family in a position to have to watch him self-destruct. This story is only one man’s experience. Unfortunately, it is a story that is retold and experienced all day, every day, by thousands upon thousands of heroin-addicted individuals.

In the U.S. today, over 20.5 million people aged 12 years or older have a substance abuse disorder. Of those millions, more than 591,000 have heroin abuse or addiction problems. Heroin is one of the most addictive substances available today. Abuse of this drug can lead to sudden death, or it can impose a long, agonizing misery that eventually leads to death if the person continues without treatment.

To learn more about heroin addiction and treatment options, please call our toll-free number today.