Getting the Best Heroin Rehab Treatment
Heroin is a highly addictive opioid drug. While pharmaceutical-grade heroin (called diamorphine) continues to be used in other parts of the world, all heroin in the U.S. is illegally manufactured—synthesized from morphine for illicit, recreational use.
Heroin produces euphoria, drowsiness, and pain relief. There are many varieties of heroin, which vary based on the different geographic locations in which they are produced and from which region of the country they are made available for street purchase. These variations include white, brown, and black tar heroin.1 All forms of heroin are typically injected, snorted, or smoked. 1
In 2011, estimates placed more than 4 million people in the United States as having ever tried heroin, with close to 23% of these users developing an addiction to the powerful opioid.1
There is also a connection between prescription opioid abuse and eventual heroin use.
Those who have engaged in nonmedical use of opioid painkillers are at least 3 times more likely to use heroin than the general population,2 and almost 50% of heroin users report having previously abused painkillers.1 Heroin is often chosen as an alternative to painkillers because it is easy to access and cheaper.
Heroin addiction is often treated with an integrated approach, using both pharmacotherapy and behavioral therapy.
Checking Your Insurance Benefits
If you are worried that you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, it can feel overwhelming to look for help. As you consider your options, knowing exactly what your insurance plan covers can give you peace of mind while you or your loved one is in rehab. You can do the work of getting and staying sober without worrying about unexpected costs or financial struggles. For more information on what your insurance plan covers, call AAC at , click here, or fill out the form below.
Medications to Treat Heroin Addiction
Medications to treat heroin addiction are primarily prescribed to:
- Ease withdrawal symptoms.
- Minimize the risk of relapse.
- Increase retention in recovery programs.
Some medications include:3
- Methadone: Methadone acts on the same receptors as heroin. Its closely monitored use helps to manage cravings and prevent opiate withdrawal without eliciting the extreme highs and lows that heroin does.
- Buprenorphine: Like methadone, it acts on the opioid receptors in the brain and reduces heroin cravings.
- Naltrexone: Naltrexone blocks the effects of heroin and doesn’t have addictive properties. It is available in tablet form and as a long-acting injection that can be given once a month to increase compliance.
Behavioral Treatment for Heroin Addiction
Behavioral treatments that have shown efficacy in treating heroin addiction are contingency management and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Contingency management uses a reward system for positive, abstinent behaviors.
CBT examines the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and works to rectify negative beliefs about oneself.3
Besides being highly addictive, heroin is extremely dangerous — placing those who abuse it in life-threatening situations due to the profound respiratory depression it causes. Long-term heroin use leads to tolerance, or the need for a higher dose in order to feel the desired effects. Those who steadily increase their heroin use to overcome this tolerance place themselves at risk of overdose, coma, and eventual death.1
In addition to respiratory depression, there are a number of other harmful potential outcomes specifically associated with using non-sterile needles for injectable routes of heroin administration (intravenous, intramuscular, and subcutaneous). These include:4
- Collapsed veins.
- Track lines.
- Infection of heart lining or valves.
- Bacterial infections.
It’s important to note that heroin is often called many different names, depending on the location and culture of the user. If you’re a concerned parent or friend, you should be aware of the different street names for heroin.
Common slang terms for heroin include:
- Black tar.
- Black pearl.
- Brown sugar.
- Witch hazel.
- Birdie powder.
- White stuff.
- China white.
- Mexican horse.
- Number 2.
Spanish Names for Heroin
The Spanish language has even more names for the drug, including:
- La Buena.
Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list because the names of heroin differ by country and geographical region. Of course, these slang terms change frequently — drug users and dealers must constantly come up with new street names in efforts to thwart the authorities.
Common Names for Heroin Mixed with Other Drugs
Heroin can be combined with a number of other drugs, including marijuana, LSD, cocaine, crack, cold medicine, Ecstasy, morphine, and methamphetamines to create combinations known as “chocolate chip cookies,” “woo-woo,” “beast,” “boy-girl,” “snowball,” “cheese,” “Cotton Brothers,” “New Jack Swing,” “LBJ,” and “meth speed ball.”
Below are some additional potential combinations, along with common street designations:5
- Heroin and marijuana: A-bomb or atom bomb.
- Heroin and Xanax: Chocolate bars.
- Heroin and crack cocaine: Dragon rock, Primo.
- Heroin and cocaine: Dynamite.
- Heroin, cocaine, marijuana: El diablo.
- Heroin and ecstasy: H-bomb.
- Heroin, LSD, PCP: LBJ
- Heroin and LSD: Neon nod.
- Heroin and methamphetamine: Screwball.
When used alone, heroin can have deadly consequences, but when combined with other drugs, the risk of adverse effects and overdose increases greatly.
Heroin addiction often occurs in conjunction with a simultaneous addiction to another substance, such as:
Heroin users may take benzodiazepines, which are prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, to intensify the opioid effects or to ease unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.3
The two most common concurrently abused drugs associated with heroin overdose are alcohol and benzodiazepines.6 All three substances are central nervous system (CNS) depressants, and all are capable of slowing both breathing and heart rate.
When two CNS depressants are combined, the heart and respiratory rate can slow to a lethal degree — leading to coma and death.
Mixing heroin with other drugs can have devastating consequences, so it’s important to act fast.
If you or someone you know is abusing heroin or mixing it with other drugs, please call our helpline at for information on treatment programs that can help with concurrent addictions. Our treatment support staff are here to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
As a concerned parent or loved one, it’s important to know the slang terms for heroin because your addicted loved one may use street names to avoid detection when talking to friends about an illegal opioid. If you are educated on and aware of the different names for heroin, then you’ll be more equipped to catch your loved one’s heroin abuse before it leads to dependence and addiction.
Having open communication is key to keeping your loved one healthy and drug-free. Many people, especially teenagers, are unaware of the potential dangers of heroin, so make sure you talk to him or her about the harmful consequences of not only heroin, but all drugs.
The purity and, consequently, the relative toxicity of today’s heroin seems to be increasing, so people no longer have to use a needle to get high. They can now snort it or smoke it to experience its potent effects. This decreased perception of heroin as an injection-only drug may contribute to the increase in heroin use among teens. As a drug with similar effects to widely prescribed opioid medications, many teens may have begun to believe that heroin is not harmful or addictive, so it may be especially important for parents today to talk to their children before heroin use begins or gets out of control.
When detecting heroin abuse, knowing the street names isn’t always enough. Identifying a potential addiction requires knowledge of the common signs and symptoms of abuse. These signs may include:3
- Depressed mood.
- Grades slipping.
- Hanging out with a new group of friends.
- Behavioral changes.
- Increased absences from school or work.
- Finding syringes, baggies, or balloons with suspicious contents.
- Neglecting previously enjoyed activities.
- Slowed movements.
- Attention and memory problems.
- Small pupils.
- Slurred speech.
- Impaired judgment.
- Physical signs:
- Collapsed veins.
- Scars from lesions.
- Nasal ulcerations.
- Injuries from accidents or violence.
At first, it may be difficult to come to terms with these signs if you spot them in yourself or someone you love. But acceptance and change can only come with acknowledgement of the problem.
If someone you love exhibits any number of these signs and you suspect heroin abuse, please call our helpline at to speak to an admissions navigator about recovery options that can help you overcome this addiction.
Persistent heroin use can lead to tolerance, physical dependence, and full-blown addiction. Long-term heroin abuse can be extremely harmful to the user’s health, including:
- Increased risk of:3
- Infection of heart valves or lining.
- Bacterial infections.
- Problems with sexual functioning.
- Issues associated with:
- Response to stress.
- Making decisions.
- Regulating behavior.
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts.
- Septic arthritis.7
- Liver disease. 7
- Kidney problems. 7
- Withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped. 3
When heroin is cut with different additives on the street, other health problems may arise. The additives typically don’t dissolve well and end up causing inflammation or clots in blood vessels that deliver blood to the kidneys, brain, liver, or lungs. As a result, cell death and infection can occur.7
Heroin use provides an intense rush that cannot be experienced naturally, which makes the drug so attractive. However, once the high goes away, the user is left with many uncomfortable health effects. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, they include the following:1
- Dry mouth
- Shortness of breath
- Decreased mental capacities
- Alternating between drowsiness and wakefulness
- Arms and legs that feel heavy
- Feeling of warmness in the skin
When a user who is physically dependent on heroin stops using the drug, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms will appear. This is because the body has adapted to the presence of the drug and needs it to function normally.
Heroin withdrawal, although not life-threatening, can be very uncomfortable and can last for a significant period of time. Withdrawal symptoms associated with cessation of heroin use are:3
- Goose bumps.
- Runny nose.
- Watery eyes/excessive tears.
- Muscle aches.
- Dilated pupils.
- General feeling of dissatisfaction or unease.
- Increased sensitivity to pain.
Because of the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms associated with heroin dependence, many users end up relapsing in order to alleviate them. As the user builds tolerance to the drug over time, he or she runs the risk of overdosing since their dose must be continuously increased in order to be effective.
Signs of a heroin overdose include:8
- Weak pulse/low blood pressure.
- Shallow or no breathing.
- Pinpoint pupils.
- Blue-colored lips and nails.
- Discolored tongue.
If you think someone is in experiencing a heroin overdose, don’t hesitate: Call 911 immediately and provide them with as much information as you can about the dose and when heroin was last taken.
If you want to find a heroin rehab center, you may be wondering what to expect. The treatment process typically entails the following:
- Intake evaluation: A certified mental health professional will assess the severity of your addiction and your physical and mental health status. This will ensure that the treatment team can create an individualized treatment plan for you.
- Detoxification: Heroin withdrawal can be unpleasant and painful. A recovery center will be able to provide you with medically supervised detoxification, which will create a more comfortable environment for you and alleviate unwanted symptoms.
- Psychiatric treatment: Heroin addiction often co-occurs with mental health issues. It’s important that the rehab you choose provides you with the appropriate comprehensive treatment designed to address any problems you experience.
- Therapy and counseling: Therapy and group counseling will provide you with the necessary coping skills needed for stressful and triggering situations.
- Medical maintenance: The treatment team may prescribe you medication to be used in combination with behavioral therapy. Methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are all beneficial medications that help reduce cravings and help prevent relapse.
- Family involvement: Many rehabs will provide you with family counseling, in addition to group and individual therapy. Family therapy can help to improve communication and repair broken relationships.
There are different types of heroin addiction treatment. One is not better than the other; the best place for you depends on your individual needs and addiction.
- Traditional inpatient treatment: During inpatient treatment, you live at the facility for the duration of your program, which can range from 30 to 90 days, or longer if necessary. This option is beneficial for those who want to escape their heroin-using environments and focus solely on recovery.
- Outpatient treatment: For those who can’t neglect home, school, or work obligations, outpatient treatment allows you to live at home while attending a recovery program that works with your schedule.
- Luxury treatment: Luxury facilities have all of the services that traditional inpatient centers do, but with added amenities that more closely resemble a vacation resort. These amenities could include:
- Spa treatments.
- Massage therapy.
- Private rooms.
- Gourmet cooking.
- Horseback riding.
- Executive treatment: These inpatient facilities cater to working professionals, such as CEOs and high-profile businesspeople. They provide the individual with internet access, private phones, and work rooms. This allows the patient to continue working while receiving heroin addiction treatment.
Many heroin treatment programs will begin with a structured and supervised period of detoxification. After that, a combination of behavioral therapies and medications may be used to prevent relapse and help you live drug-free and productive lives.
Whether it’s inpatient or outpatient, luxury or standard, all types of substance abuse treatment can be highly beneficial. If you’re looking for a private, luxury, or executive treatment experience, we can help you find the best exclusive heroin rehab center. Please call 1-888-744-0789 and start your recovery today.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Drug Facts: Heroin.
- Robertson, C.J. (2015). The Association of Lifetime Nonmedical Use of Prescription Pain Killers and Heroin Use. Doctoral dissertation, San Diego State University.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). What Are the Treatments for Heroin Addiction?
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing.
- Narconon. (2016). Slang Terms for Drug Combinations.
- Darke, S. and Hall, W. (2003). Heroin Overdose: Research and Evidence-Based Intervention. Journal of Urban Health, 80(2), 189-200.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). What Are the Medical Complications of Chronic Heroin Use?
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: Medline Plus. (2015). Heroin Overdose.