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Can Heroin Ever Be Used Safely?

Heroin is a highly addictive drug derived from poppy plants. It is usually sold as a white or brown powder that can be mixed with sugar, starch, powdered milk, or quinine. Heroin is a type of opiate. Opiates are known for their pain relieving properties and inducing euphoric feelings. Heroin is most often snorted or injected.

According to the National Institute on Drug Addiction heroin binds to and activates specific receptors in the brain. Our bodies contain naturally occurring chemicals called neurotransmitters that bind to these receptors throughout the brain and body to regulate pain, hormone release, and feelings of well-being. When activation in the reward center of the brain occurs, it stimulates the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, causing a sensation of pleasure.

Repeated heroin use changes the brain. Studies have shown an impact on decision-making abilities, the ability to regulate behavior, and responses to stressful situations. Heroin also produces profound degrees of tolerance and physical dependence. Tolerance occurs when more and more of the drug is required to achieve the same effects. With physical dependence, the body adapts to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms occur if use is reduced abruptly. Heroin brings many risks including overdose leading to death as well as infections at injection sites called endocarditis and abscesses. HIV and Hepatitis C are other risks from heroin addiction, caused by infections from sharing needles.

Withdrawal may occur within a few hours after the last time the drug is taken. Symptoms of withdrawal include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps, and leg movements. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 24–48 hours after the last dose of heroin and subside after about a week. However, some people have shown persistent withdrawal signs for many months.

Repeated heroin use often results in addiction—a chronic relapsing disease that goes beyond physical dependence and is characterized by uncontrollable drug-seeking no matter the consequences. Heroin is extremely addictive no matter how it is administered, although routes of administration that allow it to reach the brain the fastest (i.e., injection and smoking) increase the risk of addiction. Once a person becomes addicted to heroin, seeking and using the drug becomes their primary purpose in life.

Heroin is a street drug with no monitored production standards. This means the drug can be cut with potential lethal ingredients. Doing heroin is like playing Russian Roulette. Is it possible when you pull the trigger no bullet will fire? It’s possible, but you have to ask yourself, is it worth the risk?


Heroin withdrawal can be fatal without the proper care and compassion. The Serenity Recovery Center offers comfortable clinical detox programs for men and women ready to start the journey of recovery from heroin addiction. Call us today for information: 866.294.9401