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Heroin is an opioid drug synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance taken from the seed pod of the opium poppy plant. Illicit heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder or black sticky tar. Heroin can be injected, inhaled, snorted, sniffed, or smoked.
When heroin enters the brain, it is converted back into morphine, activating opioid receptors in the brain, specifically within the reward center. Dopamine is released, causing a sensation of pleasure and intense euphoria. Regular heroin use changes brain function, which creates tolerance, dependence, and addiction. It is the intense euphoria of heroin that causes addiction.
The rehabilitation process for heroin addiction begins with medical detox to manage the painful withdrawal symptoms. Following detox, the next phase of treatment should include long-term residential drug rehab. Holistic methods and behavioral therapies are the best approaches. In addition, aftercare support is critical as it helps every person maintain sobriety and stay connected to other sober people.
New and experienced heroin users risk overdose because it is impossible to know the purity of the heroin used. Street-grade heroin is often mixed with sugar, starch, or quinine. Heroin overdose can occur when the drug is snorted, injected, or smoked. Overdose causes slow and shallow breathing, convulsions, coma, and even death.