how does heroin make you feel

How Does Heroin Make You Feel? Here’s Why Heroin Abuse is Common

There may be as many as 1.5 million chronic heroin users in the United States.

Unfortunately, statistics are a bit slim because of the nature of the drug. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), many people do not answer surveys about heroin or other drug use honestly, which makes it difficult to estimate just how many addicts there are.

If someone you love is addicted to heroin, you may wonder, “How does heroin make you feel?”

After all, it’s a valid question, especially after watching your loved one go back to it over and over.

In this article, we’ll go over some things someone addicted to heroin might feel when they ingest the drug, as well as why people continue to take it despite the consequences.

Read on to find out more.

What is Heroin?

Heroin is a common name for the drug diacetylmorphine. It is a derivative of morphine, a strong painkiller. You, or someone you know, may have been given morphine if you’ve had a particularly serious surgery or had a long-term painful recovery from a serious injury.

Morphine and heroin are both derived from the opium poppy plant. This is why some people use the name “Poppy” to describe heroin. In some cases, the name “Poppy” personifies a heroin addict’s addiction. Such language is also popular in the world of eating disorder recovery in which anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are personified as Ana and Mia. Someone addicted to crystal meth may also call their addiction “Crystal.”

Originally, heroin was produced on the mass market by Bayer starting in 1874. It was used as a cough suppressant and as a “safer” alternative to morphine. Although we tend to think of drug addiction as a byproduct of modern society, morphine addiction was a common social issue back then, too. Heroin was supposed to help morphine addicts wean from their addiction. Instead, it created a new addiction altogether.

In 1924, the United States deemed heroin illegal. It was then placed in the category of Schedule I. This means that it holds no medicinal value. It also means that there is a big risk that people will abuse the drug.

As it is one of the most addictive drugs ever made, the Schedule I class for it makes perfect sense.

How Does Someone Take Heroin?

There are many ways to ingest heroin. If you’re an addict or have a friend or family member who is, you’re likely already familiar with some of the ways.

Some people may chop it up and snort it, like cocaine. Others prefer to smoke it or insert it up their anus. Most hardcore addicts inject heroin into their veins intravenously. For some addicts, this is the quickest way to get the most intense high.

It is, however, also the most dangerous. Aside from the risks associated with ingesting the drug itself, there are many issues that arise from using needles in a non-clinical environment.

There is a high risk of AIDS and hepatitis amongst this group of heroin users. This is because they may reuse needles or share needles with friends. They may also not properly clean the area or not dispose of needles correctly, which can lead to accidents and further health complications

Heroin Addiction is an Epidemic

Heroin and opiate addiction affect people from all walks of life, and is incredibly difficult to quit without professional help. Let us guide you in the right direction for treatment. All calls are 100% free and confidential.

(855) 713-7262

How Does Heroin Make You Feel?

This is a question many people who don’t take heroin want to know the answer to. As many see their loved ones return to the drug, again and again, they are curious as to the draw the drug has for that person.

Here are some of the things that heroin addicts feel when they take a hit:

A Dopamine High

Once you take a hit of heroin, dopamine fills your brain, which gives you an intense feeling of pleasure. This “hit” can make you feel confident, happy and produce positive thoughts feelings and sensations.

Many people take heroin in order to achieve that “first hit feeling.” A large chunk of people who take heroin do so in order to self-medicate and mask other issues in his or her life. If you’re constantly depressed, taking heroin will likely make you feel incredibly happy for a least a little while.

There are heroin users who describe this feeling as euphoric. This means they feel happy beyond measure or compare.

For some people, everything else negative about the drug is worth this feeling.

Relief from Pain

While most people who have chronic pain take opioids prescribed by their doctors, some people do get hooked on drugs like heroin. The drug can mask and numb physical pain you might feel from an injury or chronic illness, which makes getting off of it particularly difficult. When dealing with an addict who also has chronic pain, and takes heroin to cope, this can be fairly tricky.

Other people may take heroin as a way to “escape” or “not feel” if they are in situations that aren’t the most pleasant.

For instance, drug use can happen on battlefields where soldiers must risk their lives in the open fire. It can also occur when they have to deal with traumatic events day in and day out while near the battle zone.

Sex workers may also take heroin to help them cope with the reality of their situation. If they shoot up, they are less likely to feel disgusted with themselves or their situation. They’re also less likely to feel pain if a customer gets rough with them or the sex itself becomes painful.

In some cases, individuals who kidnap and traffic sex workers will get the women hooked on heroin purposely. This is to keep them numb and compliant. It also ensures that the woman is hooked on the drug, so she’ll always return to her pimp because he holds the “key” to getting her high.

Homeless individuals may also take heroin to cope with their circumstances. They may be constantly afraid of living on the streets. Ingesting heroin can make them feel as though things aren’t as bad as they seem.

Heroin can also help homeless people, sex workers and people in high anxiety situations feel calmer. This can allow them to sleep, even in places that would normally not be conducive to sleep. It can also allow homeless individuals, or people sleeping on the street, not feel cold and rest despite the harsh outdoor conditions.

As mentioned above, individuals with depression and anxiety may take heroin to mask their pain.

Adverse Effects of Heroin

For some people, the positive effects of heroin are worth any and all negative effects they have from the drug.

Some people, however, will not feel any positive effects and will only feel negative effects. These people may instantly feel nauseous, itch, experience dry mouth, and vomit after ingesting heroin.

Other people may not feel bad until they experience a “come down.” This can include the symptoms listed above as what some people feel instantly when ingesting heroin for the first time.

Before the person experiences a “come down,” some enter a state after the euphoria where they are simply just existing. They may nod off and wake up repeatedly. They may fall asleep entirely in almost any environment. They may also have a lower heart rate and low blood pressure.


After repeated use of heroin, a person may experience withdrawal if they stop taking it. They will often continue to ingest the heroin in order to stop this unpleasant process from occurring.

If not done in a medically supervised environment, withdrawal can lead to death in severe cases.

Otherwise, individuals will experience muscle aches, dilated pupils, anxiety, sweating, diarrhea, insomnia as well as nausea and vomiting. Some people describe it as the worst stomach flu of their life.

This process can last for several days. It can be more comfortable if done in a medical environment, as the effects can be managed through medicinal intervention.

If the person takes heroin during the withdrawal process, it will cease and they will become addicted again.

Avoid Painful Withdrawal from Heroin

Heroin is extremely painful when an individual quits cold turkey. Without proper medical care, the withdrawal can be so uncomfortable, heroin addicts are often driven back to the drug very quickly after stopping. Let us guide you in the right direction for detox. All calls are 100% free and confidential.

(855) 713-7262

Long-Term Effects of Heroin

Many people who become addicted to heroin remain so for many months or sometimes even years. They become addicted to that euphoric feeling that they get when they first get high and are always chasing it.

Taking heroin long-term can lead to AIDS or hepatitis, as mentioned above, from using dirty needles.

It can also lead to skin infections, heart problems, collapsed veins and kidney, and liver failure.

Most addicts have trouble sleeping and are at a higher risk of death than those not taking the drug.

Those who abuse heroin for too long without receiving help may ultimately die from their addiction. This can be through overdose or through other issues like their bodies no longer being able to handle the use of the drug.


Overdose is a very scary and very real part of heroin addiction. Many people who overdose die, even those who have used for decades can overdose. Experience does not necessarily protect you from falling prey to an overdose.

Many heroin addicts think that they’ll be fine because they know the dose that works for them. This, however, can be a fatal mistake. Over time, they may develop more and more tolerance, which means they will need more and more heroin to catch that initial euphoric feeling.

Some heroin addicts will lose weight, which will mean their tolerance suddenly decreases when they think it has increased due to their drug activity. This can lead to an overdose.

Those who have been clean for a while and relapse are also susceptible to an overdose. This is because once you’re clean, your body’s tolerance for the drugs reduces dramatically. If you go back to your old dosage, you may accidentally overdose or kill yourself in the process of the relapse.

Additionally, heroin can be cut with a variety of other opioids or drugs. You may not know everything that has been mixed with the drug. The person who sells it to you may not even be aware either.

This is where things get very dangerous. Some heroin is mixed with fentanyl, a powerful opioid. You may take the same amount of heroin you usually take and accidentally overdose on fentanyl because you didn’t realize it was in the drug.

Heroin may be mixed with many other drugs or substances, and you can never be sure if you purchase it “on the street.” If you’re allergic to any of these substances, it can put your life at risk without you even knowing it.

Not knowing what you’ve ingested can make it even more difficult for the doctors to help revive you. If you were with friends who can tell the doctor you took heroin, but can’t tell them what it was cut with, this could turn out to be a fatal mistake for you.

Heroin Overdose is a Real Risk

In 2017, heroin overdose was responsible for over 15,000 deaths in the United States. Overdose is a risk every heroin user faces, regardless of how they use the drug. Let us guide you in the right direction for professional help. All calls are 100% free and confidential.

(855) 713-7262

Getting Treatment

Now that you’ve read this article and answered the question of, “How does heroin make you feel?”; you might understand your relative or loved one’s dependence on the drug a little bit better

While there’s no doubt that heroin has a certain allure to many individuals, and that withdrawal isn’t pretty, there is help. There is hope.

If you or a loved one are addicted to heroin, get in contact with us today. We can work with you to form a live-saving treatment plan and start the process of recovery immediately.

We can help you save your loved one’s life.

heroin addiction help

Heroin Addiction Help: Everything You Need to Know About Heroin

There is no doubt that we are facing an opioid crisis in modern America. From large, metropolitan cities to small, rural towns, we’re seeing this drug in epic proportions.

In 2016, approximately 20.1 million people over age 12 a substance use disorder. Of that figure, over a half a million individuals struggle with a heroin addiction.

Heroin is a highly dangerous and highly addictive drug. When used chronically, it can lead to a variety of severe consequences. Furthermore, it can be fatal- with just one use.

Let’s get into what you need to know about heroin and finding heroin addiction help.

What Is Heroin?

Heroin belongs to the class of drugs known as opioids. Opioids bind to the opioid receptors in the brain and body and are used medically to relieve pain.

Heroin is derived from morphine, which is a naturally existing substance from opium poppy plants.

Heroin has many street names that include black tar, hell dust, fire, smack, tar, east coast powder.

It can come in a brown or white powder or as a black and sticky substance.

Who Uses Heroin?

A recent study revealed that nearly 100,000 Americans reported using heroin in 2016. It’s a trend that has been steadily rising since 2007.

The typical heroin user may not look like your average, stereotypical “junkie.” While it’s true that 30-40 years ago, the average user was primarily an inner-city male from a minority group, that demographic has changed.

Many people actually progress to heroin use from prescribed painkillers. Prescription opioids, such as Percocet, Vicodin, or Oxycodone, can start the slippery slope to heroin use.

Some people receive these medications for an acute or chronic pain condition. Over time, they may develop an increased tolerance. They may start experiencing withdrawal symptoms if they run out of medication.

Some doctors will limit the number of refills they provide for their patients. However, if an individual becomes dependent on the medication, they may resort to drastic measures to obtain it. Because prescription medicine can cost significantly more, some will turn to heroin, as its often cheaper and more easily accessible.

How Is Heroin Taken?

Like most drugs, heroin can be used in a variety of ways.

It can be injected via a syringe directly into a vein or muscle. Sometimes, people will mix it with other substances, such as meth or cocaine, when using it intravenously. Users often start by injecting heroin into the arm, but the veins will collapse over time. People will then progress into injecting anywhere they can locate a vein.

Intravenous (IV) use is the most potent form of administration. The peak effect can occur within 5-10 seconds. Because of the risk of overdosing, IV use is also considered the most dangerous.

Heroin can also be smoked in a pipe or rolled into a cigarette or joint. Finally, in its powder form, it can be snorted.

What Are The Short-Term Effects of Heroin?

When heroin enters the brain, it converts into morphine. Users experience a “rush” of a pleasurable sensation. The intensity on this rush varies on the type of drug, the route of administration, and the individual user.

Other physical effects of heroin use include:

  • dry mouth
  • skin flushing
  • dry mouth
  • heavy feeling in the bodies

Some users will feel nauseated and may experience vomiting. After the primary effects start to decline, users typically remain sleepy and sedated for several years.

What Are The Long-Term Effects of Heroin?

When used long-term, repeated heroin use can change the physical structure of the brain. Some research suggests that heroin can deteriorate the brain’s white matter, which can impair decision-making and emotional regulation skills.

Long-term use of heroin can also lead to tolerance of the drug. This means you need to take more and more of it to achieve the desired effect.

Furthermore, you can experience physical dependence. This refers to the body adapting to the presence of the drug. It also refers to experiencing withdrawal symptoms when stopping use.

What Happens During a Heroin Overdose?

Overdosing on heroin can be fatal, and it requires immediate medical attention. The warning signs of an overdose include:

  • Bluish nails or lips
  • Depressed or stopped breathing
  • Gurgling or snoring sounds
  • Weak pulse
  • Pinpointed pupils
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Episodes of losing consciousness
  • Disoriented or delirious thinking
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Seizures or coma

One of the most substantial risks for heroin overdose comes with polysubstance use. Taking other substances, such as meth, cocaine, or alcohol, with heroin can increase the chance for medical consequences, such as overdose.

Today, many people unknowingly use heroin laced with other substances, such as fentanyl or carfentanil. Fentanyl is said to be 50-100 times more potent than heroin, and carfentanil is supposedly 100 times more powerful than fentanyl.

People relapsing on heroin after a sustained period of abstinence also face an increased risk for overdosing. This happens because many of them use the same amount of heroin they used in the past. However, because their tolerance has decreased, they face the risk of taking more than their body can handle.

If you are with someone who you suspect may be overdosing, it’s critical to call 911 as soon as possible. Many states with good samaritan laws will protect you legally if you call for medical support- even if you were using substances yourself.


Naloxone is an FDA-approved opioid antagonist. It can block and reverse the effects of opioids. Naloxone administration can restore the overdosing individual’s breathing and save his or her life.

Naloxone comes in the form of an autoinjection or prepackaged nasal spray (known as Narcan).

It’s a prescription drug, but you can purchase it in most pharmacies and drug stores throughout the United States.

What Is Heroin Addiction?

Chronic, progressive use of heroin can lead to addiction. There are many different signs associated with addiction.

Physical & Medical Factors

Heroin addiction can dramatically impact a person’s physical health. The user may stop prioritizing grooming and hygiene. They may present as disheveled or distressed. They may look gaunt or emaciated due to not eating.

Sometimes, people using heroin share needles and run the risk of developing serious medical conditions like HIV or Hepatitis C.

Emotional & Psychological Factors

The desire to use, obtain, or conceal a heroin habit can lead people to neglect other areas in their lives. Heroin users often find it hard to hold down a job or perform well in school. They may withdraw from their social relationships and spend most of their time isolating.

It’s also common to feel very depressed, anxious, irritable, and even suicidal. Because many people struggling with drug addiction also struggle with co-occurring mental illness, drug use can exacerbate other symptoms.

On a psychological level, many drug users want to quit or cut down on their habit. Unfortunately, the intense cravings, tolerance, and fear of withdrawal make it feel impossible to do so. For this reason, many people feel alone, ashamed, and humiliated over their addiction.

Financial Factors

People struggling with a heroin addiction may steal money or items to fund their habit. They may not be able to pay their bills because they need money for more drugs. They may engage in concerning behaviors, such as prostitution or panhandling, to acquire money.

In some cases, heroin addiction can cause people to lose their jobs, homes, and savings accounts. Many unassuming people end up in serious financial problems due to the progressive nature of their use.

Why Seek Heroin Addiction Help?

Getting sober on your own can be incredibly challenging. For some, it is impossible. Many people have tried quitting on their own many times before reaching out for professional help.

Professional heroin addiction treatment provides a safe and structured environment needed to achieve and sustain long-term recovery. In this setting, you’ll receive education, life skills, and coping tools.

Professional treatment also provides wraparound care for other, extraneous issues including support for legal issues, medical treatment, family problems, and even financial stressors.

Types of Addiction Treatment

There are numerous types of treatment options available to those seeking support for their heroin addiction.


Within 6-12 hours after the last heroin dose, most individuals start experiencing withdrawal symptoms. You can expect that these symptoms can peak within the first 1-3 days, and they will begin dissipating within 5-7 days.

Detox provides 24-hour psychiatric and medical monitoring and evaluation. It’s usually known as the ‘first step’ of treatment. Detox helps flush the toxins associated with harmful substances, and it helps provide stabilization for intoxicated individuals.

Some detox facilities provide opioid detox medications to relieve the distressing, physical symptoms.

It should be noted that detox alone is not considered treatment. It’s merely the first step towards stabilization and health.

Inpatient Residential Treatment

Inpatient residential treatment provides 24/7 monitoring, structure, and support for newly sober individuals.

Treatment will you in learning:

  • stress management
  • healthy communication skills
  • relapse prevention tips
  • self-esteem and self-worth
  • life management skills
  • parenting and relationship techniques
  • management for occupational or financial problems

In this level of treatment, individuals are separated from their homes and live with their fellow patients full-time. This provides you the opportunity to surround yourself with people who understand addiction. It also provides you with the chance to focus exclusively on your recovery- free from external distractions.

Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Treatment

Partial hospitalization (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) treatment provide structured treatment for several hours each day.

Unlike inpatient care, patients do not live at the facility, and they do not receive 24/7 supervision. Instead, many of them commute to and from the center, often while working or attending school.

Some individuals transition into these levels of care after completing a detox and inpatient residential program. Others enter these programs if they do not need medically supervised detox or if they are not fit for a higher level of care.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment provides patients access to treatment and care in a non-residential setting.

Again, many of these patients have already completed intensive programs, and this is simply a step down from their higher level of care.

Outpatient treatment still provides people with support, counseling, and supervision during this transition back into the real world. This sense of accountability can help individuals feel empowered and ‘on track’ with staying sober.

What Happens After Treatment?

Even after completing a treatment program, the recovery process is never totally finished.

Instead, most people choose to adopt the philosophy that they are “in recovery.” In other words, they are continually working, growing, and learning within their recovery. The work never stops.

Well-qualified treatment centers work to provide wraparound care for their patients. Together, with your treatment team, you will collaborate on an appropriate plan for your success.

Some people stay connected with their sobriety by attending 12-Step meetings. From Alcoholics Anonymous to Narcotics Anonymous to Heroin Anonymous, there is no shortage of free meetings available virtually anywhere in the world.

Other people continue with individual, family, couple, or group therapies. Having professional support can help you as you reintegrate back into society and face stress.

Many individuals have to change parts of their lives to stay sober. You may have to reevaluate old friendships, jobs, or even living environments that are reminiscent of using.

Final Thoughts

Heroin addiction can be devastating for you and anyone you love. Even though it may feel hopeless, relief and recovery are possible. They require dedication and persistence and a willingness to try something different.

Locating the best heroin addiction help can be a challenge. At Addiction Treatment Services, we know how difficult taking that first step towards change can be.

Whether you or a loved one is struggling, we’re here to help with support and guidance. Contact us today to speak to one of our intervention specialists.