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Heroin Overdose Symptoms

Heroin addiction is a severe affliction, and one of the significant risks that heroin users can suffer is an overdose; in some cases, an overdose can be fatal. If you or a loved one is suffering from heroin addiction, please do not wait for the worse to happen and find rehabilitation treatment to get you back to the healthiest version of yourself. The opioid epidemic is a hugely concerning issue in society and there has been a rise in people suffering from heroin overdoses over the last few decades.


Understanding more about heroin addiction and the potential signs & symptoms that a person shows can protect you or a close loved one from suffering from a potential heroin overdose. Through this article, we’ll go further into detail about the risk of heroin misuse and what causes people to overdose and resources in order to help you get rehabilitation for your opioid addiction.

What Is A Heroin Addiction?

Heroin addiction is described as a chronic, relapsing disease through changes in the brain that causes people to seek out the heroin substance uncontrollably regardless of the consequences whether it’d be mental, physical or social. Heroin also known as ‘smack’ or ‘brown’  is a potent drug, it is a synthesised opioid analgesic that is derived from the Asian opium poppy plant. It’s most commonly taken via injection but it can be smoked aswell. 


People who use heroin will feel a rush of ‘pleasure.’ The strong feelings of ‘joy’ and giving them a sense of well-being can leave a person wanting more in order to experience the high again which will always lead to a tolerance developing into full-blown heroin addiction. Heroin addiction will eventually change the structure and function in the user’s brain to where they feel dependent on the drug needing to take it on a daily basis in order to feel ‘normal’ or to be able to ‘function’ properly.


Heroin addiction is an affliction that millions of people suffer and due to the stigma behind the substance, people may feel ashamed or embarrassed reaching out for help but admitting that you have a problem is the first step of recovery and it shows a sign of strength, not weakness.

What Is A Heroin Overdose?

As previously spoken about, a massive danger that comes with abusing opioids including heroin substance is that you put yourself at risk of suffering from an overdose. If a user begins to take large doses of heroin then the effects of the substance can start to overwhelm an individual’s system which leads to opioid toxicity.


Heroin and many other opioids impact various parts of a person’s brain that are important in regulating respiratory, when heroin is abused in high doses then one of the effects is dangerously slow breathing. Opioid-induced respiratory depression can lead a person to suffer a full-respiratory arrest and in many cases be fatal to the person.


Heroin addicts are at a much higher risk of a heroin overdose if they attempt to mix taking heroin with other substances such as alcohol. Heroin that is sold via the street will likely hold low purity meaning that it is cut with other substances such as fentanyl which is also a very potent drug that causes respiratory problems. These types of substance combinations can be seriously dangerous and even more dangerous as a person believes they are only taking heroin unaware of other substances cut in.

How Much Heroin Can Cause An Overdose

Heroin overdoses are becoming more common, especially with the rising opioid epidemic that is happening. There is no fixed answer to say how much heroin can cause a person to overdose. You have to take into consideration many factors which include:


  • Current Health
  • Heroin Use Frequency
  • Heroin Amount
  • Mixed Substances
  • Heroin Purity


One of the dangers that come with taking heroin on a regular basis is that a user will begin to start taking large amounts of heroin as the effects are starting to become less through frequent use and they want to experience the same highs as they did when first took the substance, this is called tolerance. People with high tolerance to heroin will have a heroin dependency, this is where their brain and body have got to the point where it feels they can not function properly without having the drug. 


With every injection, the user will be trying to chase a better and more intense high, to be constantly chasing the next highs will usually mean upping their dose, each high dose means you are at a larger risk of suffering from a heroin overdose.

Heroin Overdose Symptoms

When an individual misuses heroin in large doses they are at risk of a heroin overdose. Breathing and heart rate can stop and this can happen only a few minutes after consumption.


People that have suffered from a heroin overdose claimed that they felt and experienced these symptoms, the intensity can vary depending on the individual:


  • Very Slow And Shallow Breathing
  • Blue Lips & Fingernails
  • Clammy Skin
  • Seizure


These types of symptoms are capable of worsening at a quick rate and could lead to serious cases e.g. coma or death. Drug overdose is serious and if you ever experience a person suffering from one then do not wait and call for an ambulance.

Finding Help For Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction can be one of the hardest vices to break and it can feel at times the addiction is all too consuming but there is always hope on the horizon. If you or know a close loved one who is battling a heroin addiction, through rehabilitation you can find empowered staff that deal in heroin recovery. 


When someone has been abusing heroin for an extended period, their body has become dependent on the substance and withdrawing it from their system completely can shock the body and you may suffer from withdrawal symptoms. It’s crucial that you undergo a supervised medical detox to help safely withdraw heroin from your system so that you can focus on your recovery. 


Get in touch today with our friendly rehabilitation support team who can find the ideal tailored treatment to help you recover from your heroin addiction.

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