What is Heroin?

What is Heroin?

Heroin information from Mid-Atlantic Teen Challenge

 Heroin is one of the most powerful, deadly, and addictive drugs in the U.S. It’s extremely dangerous to the user’s health and risky to the welfare of others.An alarming number of Americans have been found with a heroin use disorder. They have had serious problems with the drug, including health issues, disability, and problems meeting responsibilities at work, school, or home. While heroin use can happen any at age, it’s especially concerning when it’s used by teens. New heroin users may start out taking prescription painkillers, then transition to heroin because it’s cheaper and easier to obtain.

How it’s Used

Heroin is typically mixed with water and injected with a needle under the skin or into a vein. It can also be smoked, snorted, or sniffed. Snorting typically involves inhaling powdered heroin through the nose, using a straw or rolled up paper. It then enters the bloodstream. Upon injecting heroin, the user will have temporary feelings of euphoria almost immediately. However, when heroin is snorted, it will take 10 to 15 minutes to feel the effects.Regardless of how it’s administered, there are unfortunate side effects. First, the injections may cause the skin to itch and burn, following the rush feeling. Snorting heroin, on the other hand, may cause side effects like vomiting, constipation, sleep problems, and dehydration. The bottom line is that there is no “safe” method to using heroin.

Effects on the Body and Brain

Each person will be affected differently, depending on the quantity and frequency of use. Heroin usually reaches the brain first, where it converts to morphine. Next, opioid receptors in the central nervous system join with morphine cells to decrease the amount of pain a person is feeling. The user may feel happy and relaxed, which can later cause a misuse of the drug.Heroin takes a toll on the brain but also on the body. Respiration, blood pressure, and heart rate are also negatively affected by heroin.When used regularly, heroin results in changes to the brain’s functioning. The risks may include shallow breathing and a rise in body temperature. If an irregular pulse rate begins, the user is at a serious risk of an overdose leading to a coma, unconsciousness, or death.

Tolerance and Addiction

Repeated use of heroin can cause people to develop a tolerance to the drug. They need to take more and more of it to get the same effect. Eventually, they might keep taking the drug just to feel normal. An estimated 23% of individuals who use heroin become addicted. Addiction means that the individual will seek ways to get high on a constant basis.If your teenage son has used heroin and exhibited a binge pattern, it’s time to do something. His repeated use can lead to active addiction. The supportive staff at Mid-Atlantic Teen Challenge is here to help.

Durations and Withdrawal Symptoms

The ‘high’ that the body experiences usually lasts a few hours.During the high, an individual may experience a drowsy sensation and a disconnection from the world. It is often described to involve a sense of unnatural pleasure, warmth, and safety. But it doesn’t and can’t last forever.Despite negative consequences to the person’s life, urges to use the drug will continue.When someone is addicted to heroin and stops using it, he may experience extremely uncomfortable and painful withdrawal symptoms, which is why it is so hard to quit. Those symptoms commonly include:
  • muscle and bone pain
  • cold flashes with chills
  • throwing up
  • trouble sleeping
  • kicking movements
  • strong craving for the drug
Your son cannot quit an addiction on his own. Through our discipleship training at Mid-Atlantic Teen Challenge, he will be guided by our loving staff and transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit.


A teen can become addicted to heroin after only one time using the drug. This is because the high is so intense. He is likely to tell his friends about it, which in turn drives their curiosity.Sadly, many young people have died from drug overdoses in recent years. A 2015 study reported that 4,235 deaths occurred from drug overdoses in people ages 15-24. Of those 4,235, roughly 55% were categorized as heroin and other illicit opioids.

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Treatment can help an addicted teen stop using and stay off heroin. No matter what your teen has been through, there is hope. If your son or someone you know has struggled with a drug addiction, we are here to provide healing.You can read more about our mentor programs for troubled teens here. At our boarding school, your son will be with other boys who have experienced similar struggles with drugs and alcohol. He will receive a mentor that is there to disciple and point him to Christ. Get help now by contacting Mid-Atlantic Teen Challenge.
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