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Heroin Addiction: What Is Heroin and Why Is It So Dangerous?

by Melissa Bell
5 minutes read

Heroin in San Francisco has become a serious problem, and although it is illegal, its addictive potential is significant. The reason heroin dependence and addiction stats are escalating so dramatically in the US is that the rising number of people turning to the drug as an alternative to prescription medications.

Addiction to prescription medications has reached epidemic levels across the nation and although it claims thousands of lives every year through fatal overdose, it is a problem that is getting worse. According to research, in the past few years, around 80% of people using heroin in San Francisco attributed their use of the drug to prescription painkiller addiction.

The connection between prescription painkillers and heroin abuse is very strong indeed, which suggests that the root of the epidemic of heroin in San Francisco lies in the management of pain for chronic conditions. What is more sinister is that because many people are prescribed opiates by their physicians, they are deemed “safe” to use. Because they are unlikely to be prescribed for short-term conditions, it is only natural that people develop tolerance to their effects and consequently find themselves needing more to numb the pain they are in.

However, physicians are highly unlikely to progressively increase the dose of extremely potent opiate painkillers because of their addictive nature. This leaves people feeling they have no alternative but to seek an illegal solution so that they can continue to manage their pain and this is when they become vulnerable to developing an addiction to street opiates such as heroin. When heroin addiction has taken its hold on someone, their use will no longer have any correlation with their pain and will have become a compulsion beyond their control.

Fortunately, America has some of the best heroin rehab centers in the world and there are several routes to recovery from addiction, no matter how strong a hold it has on a person. Research has shown that the best heroin rehab centers offer holistic therapies which provide people with other routes for managing pain. This is a significant breakthrough in the treatment of heroin addiction and it’s worth pursuing a program in the best heroin rehab centers which have a focus on holistic approaches, to improve the likelihood of sustainable recovery.

What Is Heroin?


The street names for heroin in San Francisco include dope, horse, junk, and smack and it looks like either a brown powder which is sometimes called sugar or a sticky substance called black tar. Heroin is an opiate which is a mind-altering drug that’s derived from the opium poppy plant. It works by creating a pleasant sensation through its effects on the brain’s neurotransmitters. When someone is managing pain, opiates distract the brain from the pain they are in, replacing it with an extremely pleasant sensation to allow them to heal.

Heroin is made from opium. When taken, it binds with the brain’s opioid receptors which are part of its “reward system”. It is precisely the sensation created by heroin and other opioids that is the addictive component of the drug and the pursuit of a heroin high is the reason people are likely to develop dependence and addiction once they start using it.

People take heroin in a number of ways including snorting, smoking or injecting. Some people inject the drug directly into their veins so that the drug immediately enters the bloodstream to deliver an instant high. Heroin cravings can develop very quickly once someone has started using the drug and they can become overwhelming which is why addicts often start by snorting it and quickly moving on to more direct methods of injection. It is worth noting that it is also the severity of withdrawal that prevents many people from seeking treatment for heroin dependence or addiction.

The fact remains that the opioid epidemic is officially taking America by storm, with more than 65,000 people dying every year from a fatal overdose, many of them from heroin or opioids.

Why Is Heroin So Dangerous?

Heroin is so dangerous in our society because its illegality has caused a multi-billion dollar “industry” that is run by cartels and gangsters. They are not concerned with the quality of their “product” which means it is not manufactured in clinical environments.

The color of the drug depends on where it originates from. It can appear white, off-white, brown or black and the variation of color denotes its purity. The whiter the powder is; the purer the heroin.

However, the danger lies in the fact that drug dealers are greedy and have a profit to make. This means they commonly mix other substance in with heroin to dilute it and increase their profit margins. Although this makes the drug weaker, some of the substances cut into heroin can be extremely toxic including:

  • Baking soda;
  • Laundry detergent;
  • Rat poison;
  • Fentanyl;
  • Bodybuilders’ protein powder;
  • Sugar.

Another significant problem with street drugs like heroin is that when people are not entirely sure of what they’re taking, they may have severe reactions to the other substances involved. This is also not something that only affects people who have injected the drug for a prolonged period of time. Whether someone has used heroin a hundred times or just once, they have an equal chance of overdosing each time they use.

The Path to Recovery

San Francisco heroin rehab centers offer a wide selection of holistic and complementary therapies that are specifically designed to treat heroin and opioid addiction. For many people, it is only possible to find healing when they have a healthy and natural way of coping with a life that has no place for drugs like heroin. Research shows that when people go through a slower detox process over around 30-days, that they are more likely to remain “clean” for longer.

San Francisco heroin rehab centers also offer a beautiful environment for treatment, where patients are fully-focused on regaining their health. Holistic practices allow patients to embark on a journey of self-discovery where they are empowered to make the significant changes to overcome their addiction. Once they have returned home after attending a San Francisco heroin rehab center, they will be able to use many of the coping skills learned in rehab to prevent them from relapsing.