Medically Reviewed by Dr. Mohammed Saeed, MD.
Heroin is an opioid made from morphine, which comes from the seed pod of the opium poppy. It is a highly addictive drug, valued by recreational users for its “rush” of euphoria. Heroin activates reward centers in the brain, creating a powerful feeling of well-being that users quickly find they don’t want to live without.
Once a person becomes addicted to heroin, it is almost impossible for them to quit without help. And quitting cold turkey can cause severe side effects that can be fatal. For safe and less severe detoxification, and for long-term success, it is vital that the recovering addict have close medical supervision.
How You Can Help A Heroin Addict
Having a loved one addicted to heroin can be terrifying. You may feel helpless as if everything is spinning out of control. You want to help, but you’re not sure how. The truth is that social support, especially from those most important to the addict, can play an integral role in motivating the addict to seek addiction treatment.
- Open a dialogue with your addicted loved one. Choose a time to talk when the addict is not under the influence of the drug. Remain calm and non-confrontational as you express your concerns. Give specific examples as to how the heroin addiction has negatively impacted the addict’s friends and family.
- Seek a Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) program. CRAFT teaches the loved ones of addicts how to effectively communicate and motivate the person battling an addiction to seek treatment.
- Consider an intervention. Have an addiction intervention specialist present as the addict meets with friends and family. The specialist can help the heroin addict better understand how their addiction is connected to problems occurring in their life and provide guidance as to a viable recovery plan. Even if you don’t seek an intervention, find an addiction specialist who can help you find the best resources for your loved one’s specific addiction. The specialist can help you determine whether outpatient or residential treatment is the best course of action, and additional steps to consider. Check with your primary care physician for an addiction specialist recommendation.
- Attend a Nar-Anon Family Group meeting. Participants there also have an addicted loved one. They will support you, guide you, and provide you with a wealth of experience as to how best to help your loved one.