You used to be a people person. You were always popular in high school, and were the quarterback of the football team. You got into West Virginia University on a sports scholarship, and your future was bright. As the social butterfly you were, of course you would go to most of the college parties to hang out with friends and meet new people.
The year your mom passed away, you tried to keep up the act. To others, you were still as friendly as always, but inside, you were in pain like nothing you’d felt before. When you were one of the last ones at another party, cleaning up the mess everyone left behind, one of your friends talked about using heroin. They used it right in front of you, and offered you some. In your mind, you knew the dangers, but you longed for an escape from your sadness, and so you decided to try it.
You thought it would be one time, but then it became a habit. Your performance declined in school, and every area of your life, and you lost your scholarship. You stopped going to parties that didn’t involve drugs, and left behind your friends that opposed your lifestyle. Before you knew it, your life revolved around heroin.
It’s easy to look at that story and think the course of action is obvious: seek help and take control of your life again. For most, seeking heroin addiction treatment is not easy. If you’re on this page, chances are you know that firsthand, whether you’re the one with a heroin use disorder or your loved one is. Unfortunately, West Virginians who needed illicit drug use disorder treatment but couldn’t find it went up from 6.5% in 2020 to 7.5% in 2021.
Thankfully, there is illicit drug use disorder treatment available with Hope for Tomorrow. The first step can be scary, but overcoming your heroin use disorder is possible. There is hope. Hope for Tomorrow’s passionate, caring team would love to help you find it again. We offer heroin addiction treatment to everyone who needs it, no matter who they are or where they come from.
Sometimes, heroin use disorder is seen as some sort of moral failing, but that isn’t how we see it at Hope For Tomorrow. Long-term heroin use alters the brain of the person using it. To work, heroin binds to the brain’s opioid receptors, which releases the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine. The brain becomes used to the synthetic opioid of heroin, and grows to rely on it to produce dopamine instead of the body’s natural opioids. This makes any feelings of depression and emptiness someone experienced before heroin use even worse, and creates a cycle of heroin use. Heroin actively alters the brain’s reward pathways until natural feelings of reward pale in comparison to heroin’s intensity.
Heroin use disorder impacts every area of life. Sometimes, seeking heroin can be all-consuming, leading to stealing, lying, withdrawing from family and friends, decreased performance at work and in school, and more negative effects. Even if a person with heroin use disorder recognizes their life is out of control, it’s still difficult to stop using heroin on their own.
Stopping heroin use is so difficult due in part to the withdrawal symptoms that come with heroin use disorders. The intensity of withdrawal symptoms depends on the amount and frequency of heroin use, with more use creating a more intense withdrawal. Common symptoms of withdrawal are:
Withdrawal symptoms are typically at their worst 24-48 hours after the last heroin dose, though they can begin mere hours after heroin use. Usually, heroin withdrawal passes within a week, but can sometimes last far longer. Heroin withdrawal is difficult to endure, and if you’re experiencing it, we encourage you to participate in our heroin detox. There, you’ll be medically monitored and helped through withdrawal to make it as painless and safe as possible. It’s the first step in taking your life back from heroin.
We offer a warm, welcoming environment with every level of care we provide for heroin use disorder. No matter what type of treatment you undergo at Hope for Tomorrow, it will be tailored to you and your recovery goals. We don’t just treat your heroin use disorder. We treat any underlying mental health conditions leading to additional challenges in remaining heroin-free, and address the root cause of your heroin use disorder. We do this through our detox, residential, and outpatient programs.
Going through heroin withdrawal is difficult and painful, and we know that. That’s where heroin detox comes in. In Hope for Tomorrow’s detox program, our trained medical professionals will closely monitor your health and condition as you go through withdrawal. We’ll walk alongside you and ensure you detox safely and that the process passes as smoothly as possible.
Once the heroin successfully leaves your system and withdrawal has passed, you’ll transition to one of our other programs.
Our residential program is for those seeking consistent, around-the-clock care. You will stay at our Point Pleasant or Beckley facility 24/7 and work toward recovery alongside others just as determined to overcome their substance use disorders as you are. Our Beckley facility is smaller with a strong focus on residential programs, while our Point Pleasant facility is larger and offers more programming.
During our residential program, you’ll meet with your healthcare provider at least once a week. You’ll participate in group and individual counseling daily, led by our Masters-level counselors. Those in our residential program have the option to participate in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for their heroin use disorder if it suits their treatment plan. MAT helps lessen cravings in those with opioid use disorders, making it easier to stay focused on treatment.
The duration of our residential program depends on your treatment plan, but the average stay is 30 days, with up to 60-day stays available.
We know recovery doesn’t end when your residential program does. That’s why Hope for Tomorrow offers continuing therapy even once your residential program is complete. When we say we’re dedicated to your recovery, we mean it, and we’ll be here to support you whenever you need us.
We recommend an outpatient program if you’re stepping down from a residential program, or you have additional responsibilities you can’t leave behind to focus solely on treatment. The schedule for your outpatient program is customizable, just like every other aspect of your treatment.
You’ll spend four hours per month at our facility, participating in the same therapeutic activities as you would in our residential program. Intensive outpatient involves more time spent at our facility, but includes the same treatment modalities.
Heroin is produced from the pain medication morphine but has no medicinal use itself. Instead, it is produced and used illicitly and recreationally as a street drug. Heroin’s pure form is a white powder, but pure heroin is rare. Instead, it’s usually combined with other substances, such as sugar, starch, or in even more dangerous cases, fentanyl.
Pure heroin can be snorted or smoked. Impure heroin, the most common kind, is dissolved and diluted in water, then injected. People using heroin most commonly inject it into their arms, but it can be injected into any vein or muscle.
Part of heroin’s popularity comes from its near-immediate pleasurable effects. The strength of these effects will vary based on the amount of the drug taken, and the person’s tolerance. Not every sensation heroin brings is pleasant, and the reaction to heroin varies from person to person. Some of the short-term effects of heroin include:
Frequent heroin use over time can greatly impact the body. Studies have shown long-term heroin use can damage the white matter in the brain, worsening decision-making skills. Constipation, insomnia, and depression are common, and it’s possible to develop other mental health conditions, such as antisocial personality disorder. Snorting heroin can damage nasal tissue, while injecting it can lead to collapsed veins and soft tissue infection.
The frequent additives to heroin present additional dangers to someone’s health, especially when injected. These substances don’t dissolve easily, and can clog important blood vessels that lead to organs that can then become damaged. Individuals sharing needles also run the risk of contracting infectious diseases, like Hepatitis or HIV.
Often, chronic heroin use results in a heroin use disorder, which can devastate lives. This damage can extend even beyond the physical dangers of long-term heroin use.
With more heroin use and the more tolerance built, the more likely someone becomes to overdose. Tolerance is not immunity. While the brain needs more heroin to achieve the desired pleasurable effects, the body still can’t process heroin safely. Therefore, the more heroin in someone’s body, the more likely it is to overwhelm the body altogether and cause an overdose.
It is difficult to overdose on pure heroin, but finding pure heroin these days is rare. Often, it’s mixed with fentanyl or other substances, and mixing heroin with other substances is when the chance of overdose greatly increases. Look out for these signs of heroin overdose:
If you believe someone is overdosing, call for medical help immediately. If you aren’t sure, it’s always better to be safe and call for help anyway. West Virginia’s Good Samaritan Law will ensure you won’t get in legal trouble for seeking medical care for someone overdosing.
If you have naloxone on hand, administer it to the person overdosing. Regardless, stay with them until help arrives, and don’t make them throw up unless a medical professional tells you to.
If they have only used heroin a few times, they may be able to stop themselves if you share some of the information you learned on this page with them. If they have a heroin use disorder, though, it won’t be that easy. The best thing you can do for someone who may be using heroin is express your concern for them, and urge them to seek help. You cannot force them to seek treatment, but you can offer to help them if the process seems overwhelming. You’re already reading this page, so that’s a great first step.
If you’ve made it this far, this topic may impact you or someone you know. Hope for Tomorrow’s compassionate, dedicated staff provides heroin addiction treatment, and we hope you’ll give us the chance to help you or your loved one achieve recovery.
Hope for Tomorrow, located in West Virginia, is passionate about providing empathetic, effective substance use disorder treatment. We can treat mental health conditions alongside substance use disorders, and won’t turn away anyone with other complex medical conditions, either. Everyone is welcome at Hope for Tomorrow, and we’d love to meet you. Call us at 877-679-8162 for more on what we offer.