If you’re wondering what heroin feels like, here’s the truth from a real heroin addict.
Heroin is a well-known drug, but many don’t know much about it. We’ve all seen movies like Pulp Fiction or Requiem for a Dream. I gotta be honest, before I ever did any heroin, I for sure thought it was quite glamorous.
I think a common image people have about heroin users is the junkie under a bridge shooting up. The junkie who breaks into his mom’s house to steal jewelry, TVs, and VCRs. Yes, you read that right, I said VCRs.
Heroin is a processed form of morphine. Morphine comes from the sap of poppy plants. If you are recovering from back surgery or come to the ER with a broken arm, you may have had a taste of morphine.
Many people enjoy the feeling that morphine gives them. Not only does it take physical pain away, but it also takes emotional pain or “existence” pain away as well.
Maybe grandma had surgery and afterward, you go into her hospital room to see her. She may be laughing up a storm and smiling like a happy baby. Yeah… that’s what morphine does.
Many people find their way to heroin through “legal” opioid painkillers. For me it was hydrocodone.
With no intention of becoming addicted, people get hooked on these types of painkillers. Many people get energy from it and find themselves able to concentrate better and get more done.
Then what happens? The painkillers are no longer prescribed, and you find yourself in a real pickle. That can easily lead you down the road to becoming a heroin addict.
In this article, I’ll answer the question “what does heroin feel like?” I will also get into the following:
- What heroin feels like when used for a considerable amount of time
- The sickness associated with withdrawal
- The things you’ll do to keep doing heroin
- Signs that someone you know might be using heroin
- What heroin does to your body
- The risk of overdose
- How to get treatment for heroin addiction
So, as we like to say around here, let’s dive in!
What Does Heroin Feel Like in the Beginning?
Heroin is unlike many other drugs. Marijuana makes food tastier. Cocaine allows you to continue drinking after the bars close.
How is heroin different? Why do people get hooked so quickly? Smoking, snorting, and injecting are the most popular ways to use heroin.
When you do heroin for the first time, life changes forever. You snort it, and that drip goes into your throat.
Your back pain disappears, and you feel as if angels from heaven have wrapped your body, mind, and spirit with blankets of euphoria. You feel so good that you wished you had found it sooner.
Your hands and toes tingle with ecstasy. Yes, you’ve found the answer to everything in that first heroin use.
You cease experiencing any fear whatsoever, and you may finally slow down to smell the roses. All of a sudden you want to call loved ones you haven’t spoken with in a while and talk their ear off.
Oh, and if you’re a musician or artist, heroin seems to enhance the creative process. Bid farewell to writer’s block and self-doubt.
Sounds pretty awesome, right? To say it doesn’t make you feel good would be a complete lie. Why wouldn’t you want to continue doing it? Food tastes better, drinks are more refreshing, doing housework becomes a joyous dance.
If you didn’t inject your first dose of heroin, more than likely you will sooner than later.
When you inject a drug straight into your bloodstream you get an intense rush. This holds true for any injectable narcotic.
Injecting heroin for the first time will give you an instant high that you’ll spend your life chasing indefinitely.
But what about when the honeymoon’s over — when you wake up feeling restless, knowing that a shot of heroin will make it all better?
Well now you’ve reached the “daily habit” phase.
Get ready for this one…
What It Feels Like to Be Addicted to Heroin
Here’s what heroin feels like when you’ve become a full-blown addict… like I was.
You’ve been using heroin here and there, trying to keep it to weekends if possible, but you start to experience something quite unsettling — waking up sick. Sooner or later if you continue using heroin you’ll more than likely become an everyday user,
Now at this point heroin still makes you feel great but you are now using it to keep from getting sick. Addicts like to refer to it as “getting right.”
The thing about heroin being illegal is that its availability can be very unpredictable: your heroin dealer overdoses or gets arrested, the batch your heroin comes from doesn’t get past the border, etc.
This can be a real problem. Being sick from withdrawal makes it very hard to get out of the house to try to find a new drug connection. However, you have to do it if you want to feel better.
Withdrawal from heroin is terrible. First, you become extremely nauseous and may start throwing up. Then there’s the excessive sweating along with feeling extremely dehydrated.
You feel like all of your skin and organs don’t have any moisture. Smoking cigarettes might help or might make it worse. Drinking alcohol makes it worse. Marijuana doesn’t do much either.
Perhaps injecting a lot of crystal meth will make you feel better, but I am not suggesting that you do that. It’s just something I figured out one day by complete accident.
But do you know what’s worse than all these physical withdrawal symptoms? The mental anguish!
It is almost intolerable and could lead to suicidal ideation. Your anxiety is through the roof, your brain screaming at you to find more quickly.
This anxiety is even worse because you start to feel and think about what you’ve been doing to yourself. You’ve been injecting heroin for a considerable amount of time. Your life is completely ruled by it. Every day you stick a needle in your arm just to exist.
These are the thoughts that quickly rise to the top. Basically, you’re freaking out while getting exponentially depressed.
Then you get more and, “ahhhh, I can breathe.” Fuck those thoughts about why you should quit. Once again all is right in the world…
Once you’re addicted to heroin you’ll do many things you didn’t think you ever would to get more and keep it going.
You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do
Here’s what heroin feels like once you’re completely addicted.
Quickly, heroin feels like your master. It rules every waking hour you have. The emotional and physical pain you go through when you aren’t high just keep getting worse.
You dread any second of withdrawal you might have to endure.
Making sure you always have plenty of heroin so you don’t get sick becomes a priority.
However, you’ve been spending all of your money on heroin. More than likely you’ve lost your job due to your heroin addiction.
Perhaps your significant other or parents have kicked you out of the house.
Imagine this scenario:
You get a room at a Motel 6 where all the junkies hang out. All is well when everyone has drugs.
Then the drugs run out. You know there’s a quick way to make money: selling sex. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman. Even if you’re a guy who isn’t homosexual, you are willing to have sex with other men for money.
Overnight you’ve become a prostitute even though you didn’t want to.
Nothing wrong with prostitution as I am pro-sex work, but that’s for another article perhaps. The point is that you are willing to perform even the most degrading of sex acts just for enough heroin to not be sick. Sounds like enslavement to me.
There are many other things people will do to make sure they never run out of heroin. It’s easy to pick up a stimulant habit such as smoking crystal meth or shooting cocaine. You need energy to go out and do what you gotta do to get your fix.
More of the same scenario:
Your grandma won’t let you in the house because of your using but you call and manipulate her by telling her you are getting sober. You say that all you need to do is take a shower before going to rehab.
Then once you’re in the house you sneakily look around for valuables. Jewelry, firearms, iPads, laptops, and antiques are just there for the taking.
You run out of the house as quickly as you can. You can either pawn this stuff or trade them at the dope motel.
Before you know it you are stealing things from Walmart. Then you try to return what you stole at a different Walmart.
You get the picture. Things you said you’d never do to supply your habit you now do. This leads to more emotional turmoil when sober which leads you to using larger amounts of heroin.
All of this you do because of the way heroin makes you feel. At the end of the day when you finally get enough heroin for a few days and you take a shot, you breathe and acknowledge that everything you’ve been doing has been totally worth it.
What Heroin Feels Like for Your Friends and Family
For your friends and family, heroin feels like the worst thing that’s ever happened.
Maybe you have a child, sibling, parent, work friend, etc. who is starting to act differently. You suspect drug use but are not sure. So, let’s talk about signs to look for if you suspect a person is doing heroin.
I don’t care what anyone says, heroin is not marijuana or alcohol. It’s in its own class. Once a person gets hooked, their whole universe shifts. Life revolves around heroin.
Obviously, paraphernalia is a good indication someone is using drugs.
This paraphernalia includes:
- Needle caps
- Empty bags that syringes came in
- Rubber ties
- Rolled up dollar bills
- Bent spoons or spoons in general
Look for certain changes in behavior. This could include:
- Not returning phone calls or texts
- Missing engagements or work
- Extreme mood swings
- Lying (even about stuff that doesn’t need to be lied about)
- Overly secretive
- They may start to ask you for money
- If you are at their residence you may see valuable things missing such as laptops or jewelry
- Track marks (track marks are scars on the skin due to injecting heroin)
- Getting arrested
- Talking differently, using more street language
- Saying “code” words for drugs that you may not understand
Some street names for heroin include:
- Black tar
Slang for using heroin includes:
- Chasing the dragon
- Speed-balling (heroin with cocaine or crystal meth)
Many family members and friends of heroin addicts are in a great deal of denial. They see the signs. They pray that it isn’t true but know in their heart that it is.
The sooner you know for sure someone you love is using heroin the sooner you can make an effort to help them.
What Does Heroin Use Do to Your Body?
What does heroin feel like to your body? Heroin can do a great deal of damage to your body. Even if you stop doing it after years of use, you could still experience problems later in life.
Many well-known people have died before their time due to heroin use and overdose. Over time as you use heroin, you destroy gray matter in your brain. Gray matter controls hearing, sight, speech, decision-making, and muscle movement.
If you are using high doses of heroin when you get high you may create some long-term negative effects that can’t be reversed.
Here are some physical long term effects:
- Respiratory problems
- Tooth decay
- Tooth loss
- Muscle weakness
- Chronic constipation
- Inflamed gums
- Decreased sexual function
- Scars and other skin damage
- Hepatitis C
- Liver problems
- Kidney problems
The Risk of Overdose
The problem with heroin is that you never really know what you are getting. Remember, it’s a street drug. If you are in the U.S. then it comes from overseas or across the border.
Think of how many hands that drug gets passed through until it gets to you. Then by the time it gets to your dealer he/she may not be making enough money to do what he/she wants to do. Perhaps their friend has somehow gotten their hands on fentanyl.
Now you’ve got heroin mixed with fentanyl which is an extremely lethal combination. This is a drug that most people will inject straight into their bloodstream. It’s a complete mystery as to what may be in it but the high is good, and when we’re addicted we don’t care.
Aside from fentanyl, you could have powdered heroin mixed with powdered milk! So unless you are trying to make a heroin-flavored milkshake, you’re shit out of luck.
An obvious sign someone is having an overdose is that they stop breathing as heroin depresses the nervous system.
Symptoms of a heroin overdose include:
- Pale skin
- Blue tint to the lips and fingertips
- Shallow breaths
- Gasping for air
- Discolored tongue
- Weak pulse
- Low blood pressure
- Pinpoint pupils
- Constantly passing out while in mid-sentence
These symptoms could occur anywhere up to 10 minutes after a person’s last dose of heroin.
If you live with someone who abuses opiates of any kind including heroin, then it’s probably a good idea to have NARCAN onsite. NARCAN can reverse the effects of an overdose and keep someone from dying. It can be administered in a variety of ways including nasal spray.
Even if you administer NARCAN and the person becomes conscious, you still need to get them to the emergency room immediately.
Treatment for Heroin Abuse
If you’re wondering what heroin feels like, you’re probably young and curious.
Otherwise, you’ll end up in treatment.
Many people think heroin addicts are doomed and can never get clean and sober. Well, that’s not the case. Although withdrawal is terrible, there are detox facilities that can help.
You can find state-funded ones as well. Heroin usually depletes a person’s bank account, so don’t let lack of money be a deterrent. During the detox period you may be administered Suboxone to help make the process less painful.
Although Suboxone is technically an opiate, it acts differently. Suboxone binds to the opiate receptors in your brain. Once it binds to the opiate receptors it keeps any other opiate from binding.
That means if you take Suboxone in the morning and shoot heroin later in the evening, you won’t get high. You’ll just be wasting money trying to do heroin the same day.
After a person gets out of detox they may continue taking Suboxone under a doctor’s care. This is controversial and somewhat looked down upon in the addiction recovery community.
If it helps someone not put a needle in their arm, destroy their life, and hurt their family, then who fucking cares. Suboxone can help people immensely.
Methadone is another drug that can be prescribed by a doctor. Although it’s also controversial, methadone can help someone stay off of heroin.
Of course taking methadone and Suboxone alone won’t fix everything. Truly getting sober requires a complete change in our hearts, thoughts, and behaviors.
Recovery communities such as SMART Recovery, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Narcotics Anonymous help people create a new life. A life worth living.
Dealing with Heroin Addiction
Are you or someone you know battling a heroin addiction?
If so, there is help available and people waiting to welcome you into a sober life in recovery.
Hopefully this article has given you an idea of what heroin feels like. Knowing what it feels like makes people who are addicted to it do anything to keep doing it.
If you’re familiar with what heroin feels like, let us know in the comments.