Defining Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction is prevalent in the UK and traps many people in an addiction cycle. While it may seem impossible for you to imagine a life free of heroin, understanding how it affects your health and well-being could help you to reach out for professional help. Taking the first step toward recovery requires comprehensive treatment which helps both the physical dependence and psychological reasons for addiction. With 25+ years of experience in treating addiction, science-based programmes with options for all cases, and a team of addiction experts, Providence Projects can help you take that first step toward recovery.

What Is Heroin?

Overcoming heroin addiction


Heroin is a semi-synthetic opioid that is derived from processing morphine. It acts on your pain receptors and those that regulate breathing. It binds to these receptors, causing a release of dopamine and other neurotransmitters, inducing relaxation, detachment, and an absence of physical and psychological pain. Eventually, your brain stops producing these neurotransmitters because heroin supplies them artificially. Heroin causes changes to your brain chemistry, so your reward system does not work as it should.


Heroin is a Class A, Schedule 2 drug in the UK, classifying it as one of the most dangerous. This means it is illegal to own – even if t doesn’t belong to you. Producing or supplying it is also illegal if you do not have a license. The penalty for possession of heroin is up to seven years imprisonment and a fine. The supply or production of heroin is a life sentence, an unlimited fine, or both penalties. Heroin is classified as a Class A drug because it is among the most harmful drugs for your body and mind.

Potential for Addiction

The addiction potential of a substance refers to how easy it is to become addicted, and unfortunately, heroin is one of the most addictive substances created. It was initially developed as a painkiller, and even though it has a high potential for addiction, it is still used for medicinal purposes. Heroin enters your brain very quickly. After a hit, you experience an almost-instant sense of euphoria. Because it binds to the receptors responsible for pain, pleasure, heart rate, sleeping, and breathing, it is both physiologically and psychologically addictive. As it is readily available and relatively cheap, many people fall into the trap of heroin addiction.

Heroin Dependence

Heroin dependence has had a devastating impact on British communities, cities, and social structures. For example, in 2018, a study by the National Crime Agency found that heroin and cocaine use had risen significantly across England and Wales. An estimated 3.7 million people aged 16-59 have used drugs in the last year. In Manchester, the city council reported that drug-related deaths had increased by 73% between 2012 and 2018, with heroin being a major contributor. The use of heroin in Manchester has been linked to increased crime, including burglaries, theft, and violent crime.

The effects of heroin addiction on British communities go beyond the immediate physical and social impacts. The long-term consequences of heroin use can be seen in the social structure of these communities, as addiction perpetuates a cycle of poverty and despair. For example, in Glasgow, the drug problem has been so severe that it has been dubbed the “drug death capital of Europe.” In 2018, there were 1,187 drug-related deaths in Scotland, with almost two-thirds of those deaths linked to heroin. The use of heroin in Glasgow has significantly impacted the city’s social structure, with addiction leading to homelessness, unemployment, and a breakdown of families. To combat the heroin addiction crisis, a comprehensive approach must be taken to address the immediate needs of those struggling with addiction and the underlying social and economic factors contributing to the problem.

Signs of Heroin Addiction

The signs of heroin dependence and addiction are physical and mental symptoms, differences in behaviour, and disruption in an individual’s personal and professional life. Seeing them in a loved one will allow you to convince them to seek professional help and intervene as quickly as possible before the condition gets worse.

Physical signs of heroin dependence to watch out for:

  • Itchy and clammy skin
  • Fever and tremors
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach aches
  • Constipation
  • Fluctuations in hunger and eating patterns
  • Runny nose
  • Weight loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle spasms
  • Needle marks and bruises on the skin

Psychological signs of heroin dependence to watch out for:

  • Loss of orientation and confusion
  • Anxiety and heightened sensitivity to stress
  • Mood swings
  • Numbness and apathy
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Impulsivity, aggression and hostility toward people
  • Frustration and irritability with oneself and others
  • Inattention and inability to concentrate
  • Reduced cognitive function and struggle to make decisions
  • Memory issues
  • Restlessness, sleep issues or insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations and episodes of delirium

Behavioural and social signs of heroin abuse

  • Slurred speech and trouble with communication
  • Falling behind on responsibilities and work at school, university, or at work
  • No attention to personal hygiene, how they dress, etc
  • Needle marks and scars on arms and legs
  • Wearing long and baggy clothes even if it’s very warm
  • Distancing from loved ones and friends
  • Getting hostile and defensive when the substance is mentioned
  • Mood fluctuations
  • Switching between periods of hyperactivity and lethargy
  • Lack of motivation and loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed

Find Residential Treatment Today

If you think you need help for a heroin addiction, or you want to help a loved one struggling with the grips of opiate dependence, then we have something which can help you. Our primary treatment programme, inclusive of a detoxification period, has a proven success rate among our community. If you want to find a reliable, dedicated therapist for your residential rehabilitation period, then the Providence Projects are the perfect location for you. Our world class facilities in Bournemouth are purpose-built and will provide you with the home away from home you will need while recovering.

Call us today and ask about our heroin addiction rehab services and how we can help you and your family heal from the harm done by this crippling condition.