Heroin Addiction Treatment:
Get The Facts


Heroin Addiction Treatment

Heroin is part of the opioid family. It is made from morphine, a natural substance found in the opium poppy plants. It can be a white or brown powder or a black, sticky substance known as black tar heroin. 

It is mixed with starch, powdered milk or teething powder. In South Africa, it can sometimes be mixed with antiretrovirals and rat poison to form a potent cocktail called “whonga”.

Heroin can be injected, snorted or smoked. Smoking involves lacing a marijuana joint with heroin or using tin foil, which is known as “chasing the dragon”. Smoking is often more appealing to new users because it eliminates the stigma associated with injection drug use. 

Heroin addiction can happen extremely quickly, even after just one or two uses. Heroin addiction treatment provides users with the facts they need to overcome their addiction.


What Is Heroin Addiction?

People who regularly use heroin develop a tolerance, and need higher and more frequent doses of the drug to get the desired effects. The continued use of the drug can cause health problems and failure to meet responsibilities, and is classified as a substance use disorder. Substance use disorders can range from mild to severe, with the most severe form being addiction.

After taking heroin, you will feel a rush of good feelings and euphoria. Many people start using heroin to deal with anxiety, stress, and depression. At our heroin addiction rehab in Cape Town, we have an in depth insight into how the addiction escalates. 

If you are unsure about whether someone needs heroin addiction treatment, look for the signs below:

  • Changes in appearance or decline in personal hygiene
  • Changes in behaviour, like sudden secrecy or aggression
  • Money issues, such as missing money or needing more money without any logical reason
  • Problems at school or work
  • Risky or dangerous behaviour
  • Possession of burned spoons, needles or syringes, missing shoelaces, glass pipes
  • Stashing drugs in various places around the home, car, and work
  • Periods of hyperactivity followed by periods of exhaustion
  • Inability to fulfil responsibilities at work or school
  • Increased sleeping
  • Apathy and lack of motivation
  • Decline in occupational or academic performance
  • Slurred speech
  • Not being able to stop using a substance, despite any negative consequences or multiple attempts to stop and not being able to.

recognise symptoms

Heroin Addiction Symptoms

The early stages of heroin addiction might go completely unnoticed, but as the substance abuse continues, the symptoms will worsen, leading to physical changes.

Heroin addiction help addresses these symptoms which are outlined below:

Short-Term Effects:

  • Dry mouth
  • Warm flushing of the skin
  • Heavy feeling in the arms and legs
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe itching
  • Clouded mental functioning
  • Going “on the nod,” a back-and-forth state of being conscious and semi-conscious

Long-Term Effects:

  • Insomnia
  • Collapsed veins due to regular injecting
  • Damaged nose tissue from snorting or sniffing
  • Infection of the heart lining and valves
  • Abscesses 
  • Constipation and stomach cramping
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Lung complications, including pneumonia
  • Mental disorders such as depression and antisocial personality disorder
  • Sexual dysfunction for men
  • Irregular menstrual cycles for women

Other Potential Effects:

Heroin can contain additives such as sugar, starch, or powdered milk. These can clog blood vessels leading to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain, causing permanent damage. Sharing drug injection equipment and having impaired judgment from drug use increases the risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.

who is at risk

Who Is Most At Risk Of Developing An Addiction To Heroin?

Addiction can happen to anyone, and anyone who takes opioids can be at risk for developing an opioid use disorder. There are factors that can raise this risk, which include:

  • Family or personal history of addiction to other substances
  • Heavy tobacco use
  • History of severe depression or anxiety
  • Unemployment
  • Exposure to high-risk individuals or environments
  • History of risk-taking behavior

These risk factors do not always mean a person has a substance use disorder. Addiction can include genetic, psychological, and environmental factors.


Heroin Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms

Because heroin is such a highly addictive drug, the withdrawal symptoms are often painful. Our partner, Rustenburg Clinic’s years of medical experience in heroin addiction allows us to treat these debilitating symptoms:

  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Severe muscle and bone pain
  • Irregular sleep problems ranging from insomnia to oversleeping
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Cold flashes and goosebumps on the skin coming in waves 
  • Uncontrollable leg movements or twitches
  • Severe cravings

treatment options

Heroin Addiction Treatment Options

There is no “one-size-fits-all” for heroin addiction rehab. At Good Hope,  we examine any coexisting medical conditions which could cause underlying issues.

Inpatient Treatment Programme

Good Hope has partnered with a South African clinic in Cape Town to provide an inpatient treatment programme, which is a highly recommended heroin addiction treatment. This facility specialises in treating addictive disorders and associated psychosocial problems. You will take part in group and one-on-one counselling, detoxifying, and an interesting programme  which provides all the information to sustain sobriety and recovery.

Sober Living Facility

A sober living facility such as Rustenberg Clinic is a safe accommodation for those who need to continue their rehabilitation in a supportive environment. It is designed to encourage and guide residents to find a productive, healthy, and balanced lifestyle and prevent the risk of relapse.

the right treatment

Take Back Control Of Your Life

With the right heroin addiction treatment, your addiction does not need to be permanent, and you can take back control of your life.

Good Hope provides individualised care for all patients, and we include the family in every step of the treatment programme.