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Heroin Addiction and Abuse

Heroin is an opioid drug derived from morphine, a substance found in poppy plants. It currently has no legitimate medical use in the U.S. but is a common illicit street drug commonly known as smack, horse, wren, and big H. Heroin and other opioids are highly addictive, but treatment can help people quit using heroin and live healthy, productive lives. This page will discuss the impact of and treatment of heroin addiction.

What is Heroin?

Heroin is an opioid drug that is classified as a Schedule I substance, which means it carries a high risk for abuse or addiction and has no medical use.2 It is commonly obtained as either a sticky black substance (black tar heroin) or a white, tan, or brownish power.2,3

There has been an increase in heroin use and addiction in the United States, which may be due in part to the prescription opioid crisis. This is because there is a risk that people who are abusing prescription opioids may eventually move on to heroin, either due to difficulty in obtaining a prescription or drug affordability.

heroin and spoon

Signs of Heroin Addiction

Although heroin use is rare in the population of people who misuse prescription opioids, some individuals turn to heroin after becoming dependent on prescription opioids.1 It’s estimated that around 80% of heroin users started with opioid prescription drug misuse.1

Heroin Side Effects

There are various short- and long-term heroin side effects that can result from using heroin. Heroin impacts opioid receptors that are involved in feelings of pain and pleasure as well as controlling breathing, sleeping, and heart rate.1

What to Do When Your Loved One Uses Heroin

One of the most difficult aspects of heroin addiction is talking to the person who’s suffering. Those who struggle with addiction often have several responses to having their habits exposed or questioned, including:

  • Anger at being accused of taking drugs.
  • Denial that there is a problem at all.
  • Nonchalant acceptance that they are indeed using heroin.

The last reaction is possibly the most difficult to work with – because for many, it can signify a refusal to change.


Heroin Addiction Treatment

Effective treatment and support exist for heroin addiction and opioid use disorder (OUD). Treatment may be delivered by private rehab, via state or local treatment programs in either an inpatient or outpatient setting, through support groups, or in various other ways.

 diverse group of people sitting in circle for therapy.

The Time to Seek Help is Now

Heroin’s addictive powers can indeed be strong. Even a single use of heroin places some individuals at risk of developing an addiction to the drug. If you or your loved one may be using heroin, don’t risk delaying your search for help. There are numerous treatment programs and strategies available for heroin addiction, so don’t give up if the first program you check out doesn’t meet your individual needs.

Learn More and Find a Treatment Program

For more information about heroin and opioid abuse and addiction treatment, you may want to reach out to your doctor. Or you can contact one of our admissions navigators at for the information and support you are looking for as you look for heroin addiction treatment.

You can also look at the facilities listed below to see if they provide the opioid treatment program you are looking for:


For those who have insurance, using health insurance to pay for rehab should cover at least some of the cost of addiction treatment. Coverage may vary depending on your needs and insurance plan. To find out if your policy covers rehab, click here, or fill out the form below. Your information is kept 100% confidential. You can also click here to find a rehab near me.