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What You Need to Know About Heroin Addiction and Treatment?


Heroin is linked to a surge of overdoses in Canada within the last several months. Healthcare professionals are becoming extremely concerned because most heroin is now being mixed with deadly drugs like Fentanyl, or other unknown prescription medications.  According to The Globe and Mail, in a five-day period there were six people that overdosed on heroin last month in downtown Toronto. That heroin was reported to be more concentrated than expected.

Heroin is one of the scariest drug addictions because the risk of overdosing is very high. The sooner you can find help and support someone with a heroin addiction, the better chance they will have at recovery without serious health repercussions.

Here are ten key facts about the dangers of heroin:

  1. It is one of the most addictive drugs. The risk of overdose is extremely high because most of the time the user doesn’t know exactly what they are receiving. According to The Globe and Mail, a bootleg version of Fentanyl is entering Canada. Several fatal overdoses that are taking place in British Columbia and Alberta are a result of Fentanyl mixed with other drugs that include heroin, cocaine and crystal meth.
  2. Street names for heroin include Big H, Blacktar, Brown sugar, Dope, Horse, Junk, Mud, Skag and most common, smack.
  3. Injection into the bloodstream is the most popular method of heroin use. However, it can also be snorted or smoked. It’s just a slower process for getting that “high.” Intravenous injection provides the fastest and greatest intensity of euphoria. All three methods of heroin use are highly addictive.
  4. Regular use of heroin results in increased tolerance and more of the drug is needed to achieve the same high. Many times the person feels driven to keep using the drug simply to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
  5. The use of heroin can result in the following physical experiences:
    • Flushing of the skin
    • Dry mouth
    • Heaviness in arms and legs
    • Slower breathing
    • Decreased heart rate
    • Cardio-respiratory arrest
    • Coma
  1. A heroin abuser undergoes several changes in the brain and their primary focus in life often becomes looking for ways to obtain heroin.
  2. Attempting to discontinue the use of heroin can result in extreme cravings, restlessness, cold flashes, and vomiting, as well as muscle aches and pains. Sudden discontinuation followed by withdrawal by heavily addicted and unhealthy users can be fatal.
  3. The most serious health risk of heroin use is death due to accidental overdose.
  4. Breathing can be depressed when using heroin which can lead to major respiratory failure.
  5. It is strongly recommended that you seek medical supervision when trying to detox from heroin. There are several medical approaches which can minimize withdrawal symptoms and increase the probability of a successful recovery from heroin and other drug abuse.

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Recovery is possible for someone with a heroin addiction. At Bellwood Health Services, 83% of substance use clients who participate in Bellwood’s Continuing Care and at least one other aftercare support were in high recovery after six months. Treatment for heroin addiction may benefit from several types of interventions and rehabilitation services. Early intervention and proper treatment can help a person avoid serious health problems.

At Bellwood addiction treatment for heroin abuse is a combination of medical detox, a customized recovery treatment program. According to our Medical Director at Bellwood Health Services, Dr. Mark Weiss, there is a substantial body of research to indicate that some clients with opiate / heroin addiction may benefit from specialized medications to treat opiate/ heroin addiction. After a careful assessment the physician will discuss the use of these medications with the client.

At Bellwood, our comprehensive and intensive treatment programs consist of several therapies and services that include:

  • cognitive behavioural therapy
  • mindfulness practices
  • yoga / meditation
  • group therapy
  • family therapy
  • individual therapy
  • addiction education
  • weekly medical physician consultations
  • psychiatric consultations
  • 24/7 nursing care
  • physical education and yoga
  • massage and acupuncture therapy
  • continuing care program


These services and therapy practices ensure that clients receive a holistic and well-rounded recovery program. A mental health and medical evaluation is conducted to ensure that a client’s mental health and physical health conditions are considered in the treatment plan.

During their stay at our treatment centres, clients will focus on addressing the underlying factors that lead a person to abuse heroin and/ or other opiates. Clients will obtain new skills and tools to help them recognize and work through difficult situations and negative emotions instead of turning to drugs.

Abstinence is the ultimate goal for those in our recovery programs. There is reliable research that states longer stays in treatment and participation in a continuing care program  after completing the core treatment program substantially improves outcomes and prevents relapse.

At the Edgewood Health Network, we offer a range of services for continuing care and addiction treatment. To learn more about our services or our treatment centres for alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, problem gambling or compulsive sexual behaviour, please contact us at -647-748-5501 or email us.





The Globe and Mail

Metro News

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