Heroin is an often misunderstood drug, especially as people wonder, “Is heroin an opiate?” In fact, heroin is an opiate, yet still one of the drugs in the opioid epidemic. In order to understand heroin abuse, you need to know some basic information about opiates, opioids, and how they work.
Is Heroin an Opiate, Opioid, or Both?
Specifically, heroin is an opiate from morphine. Morphine naturally comes from the opium seed pod of Asian poppy plants. For example, heroin itself is refined from natural sources. This makes it technically an opiate.
To confuse matters on the “is heroin an opiate” question, heroin is also an opioid. Opioids are man-made versions of morphine and heroin. The opioid class of drugs includes prescription painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone. These drugs are made in a lab to affect the body like heroin.
Even though producers make heroin from naturally-occurring morphine, people today also consider it an opioid because it straddles the line between the two classes of painkillers. When people abuse opioid prescription painkillers, they tend to “graduate” to heroin use. They use heroin after they cannot gain access to any more prescription drugs, whether through doctors or on the streets. In addition, heroin is a definite piece of the opioid epidemic puzzle.
Opiates and opioids mix together under the classification of opioids by the medical community. Medical circles consider opioids any substance that binds to opioid receptors in the brain and gastrointestinal tract, causing a response.
How Heroin Works
Like other opioids, heroin takes effect by attaching to your brain’s opioid receptors. Opioid endorphins naturally occur in your body and attach to these same receptors. However, heroin takes their place and makes your body stop producing natural endorphins with continued drug use.
The effects of opioids attaching to these receptors include signals sent to your brain. The signals block pain and slow breathing. Additionally, you feel pleasure and your body relaxes.
Doctors prescribe man-made opioids because they flood your brain with these chemicals to block chronic pain. Your body cannot make enough natural opioids to do this on its own. The downside of these drugs includes slowing of your body’s important natural systems, such as respiration and circulation. Furthermore, too much opioid intake leads to overdose.
Heroin is dangerous from its first use. Once your body is tolerant to the drug, it needs more and more to feel the same effects. Not using heroin after tolerance and physical dependence means you suffer symptoms of opiate withdrawal. After addiction begins, the only way out of heroin abuse is an addiction treatment program.
Effective Heroin Treatment
In Asheville, North Carolina, Crest View Recovery Center provides substance abuse treatment for heroin and other opioids. Our rehab center focuses on your overall wellness through a variety of substance abuse treatment programs and therapies, including:
- Rehab treatment program
- Intensive outpatient program
- Men’s drug rehab and women’s drug rehab
- Individual counseling and group therapy
- Alumni program and family therapy
- Trauma treatment and reality therapy
- Acupuncture treatment, yoga therapy, meditation therapy, nutrition counseling and recreational therapy
If you suffer from heroin addiction, Crest View Recovery Center provides the treatment you need for a better life. Call CVRC now at 866.327.2505 for information about available programs.