The Heroin Addiction Recovery Rate is Better Than You Think

heroin addiction recovery rate

Heroin is an incredibly addictive illegal street drug derived from morphine, which comes from the opium poppy plant. It was originally sold as a painkiller until it became apparent that heroin is highly addictive. It is sold on the street as either a brown or white powder or black tar heroin that users smoke, inject, or snort. More than 2000 people die each year from heroin use. However, contrary to popular belief, the heroin addiction recovery rate is much better than people realize. An individual who is addicted to heroin can recover and live a full, healthy life.

Why is Heroin So Addictive?

Because of the way that heroin affects the brain, it is incredibly addictive. Once heroin enters the body, it is converted to morphine, which quickly attaches to opioid receptors in the brain. Activating these receptors blocks the production of the brain chemical GABA, which regulates dopamine production. Dopamine then floods the brain, producing feelings of pleasure and euphoria. The rush is relatively short-lived, lasting 15-30 minutes, but feels so good that users crave it and will use heroin again and again to reproduce that high.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Over time, the body builds up a tolerance to heroin, requiring more frequent or greater doses to achieve that high. Without heroin, the user will go into withdrawal, which includes unpleasant symptoms such as:

  • Restlessness
  • Severe muscle and bone pain
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Uncontrollable leg movements
  • Cold flashes
  • Anxiety
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Racing heartbeat

Statistics on Heroin Addiction

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) estimates that 4.8 million Americans have used heroin, including 681,000 in 2014. Nearly 80% of heroin abusers began by abusing prescription painkillers. In recent years, heroin abuse has been on the rise, resulting in a more than six-fold increase in deaths from an overdose from 2002 to 2015, when more than 14,000 people died.

Can You Really Recover and What is the Heroin Addiction Recovery Rate?

Yes! While these numbers are daunting, and withdrawal from heroin is a challenge, heroin addiction can be overcome. The relapse rate for heroin addicts is high, estimated as high as 80%, but that does not mean it is impossible to recover from heroin addiction. Depending on the approach, the heroin addiction recovery rate ranges from 35-65%. 

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

The first step in kicking heroin addiction is detoxification to remove heroin from the body. This process causes withdrawal, which can be so uncomfortable that the addict may be tempted to use heroin again, just to curb the symptoms. A supportive recovery environment is critical at this time when the risk of relapse is so high. Treatment can be inpatient or outpatient. A combination of counseling and medication-assisted treatment improves rates of recovery.

The medication-assisted treatment uses medicines to ease the discomfort of withdrawal. There are a few options available. Methadone binds to the same receptors as heroin, reducing withdrawal symptoms and preventing the euphoric high heroin produces. It must be prescribed by a doctor and taken in a supervised clinic. Buprenorphine works similarly to methadone but can be prescribed by a physician to be taken at home. Because methadone and buprenorphine bind to opioid receptors, there is potential for abuse. Naltrexone blocks opioid receptors so that if a person uses heroin, it will have no effect. Because it blocks the receptors instead of binding to them, naltrexone has no potential for abuse. Naloxone also blocks opioid receptors. It can be used on its own to prevent overdose, or in combination with buprenorphine to prevent buprenorphine abuse during treatment for heroin addiction.

While medications may help with withdrawal and the risk of relapse, counseling, and support assist the user to deal with the problems behind their substance abuse and prepare for a sober future. Recovery is possible. Call Choices Recovery for more information.

Recovery from Heroin Addiction

heroin addiction

The history of heroin’s use in America traces back to the opium dens of the 1800s. The opium poppy has been cultivated for more than five thousand years for a variety of medicinal uses. From opium, morphine was derived, a naturally occurring opiate extracted from the seedpod of certain varieties of poppy plants. Named after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams, for its euphoric side effects, morphine was an effective painkiller and considered a wonder drug. Its addictive properties became alarmingly clear with the American Civil War when tens of thousands of soldiers being treated for war casualties became addicted.


Heroin was first synthesized from morphine in 1874. For 12 years Bayer, the German pharmaceutical company, marketed it under the trademark name Heroin as a cough suppressant and as a non-addictive morphine substitute, until it was discovered that it rapidly metabolizes into morphine.

The number of Americans using heroin has increased 75% in the past 5 years, and in that same time, heroin-related seizures have increased 50%.

The insidiousness of heroin lies in the fact that not only does it create an intense rush that the user longs for even thereafter, but it alters the brain’s chemistry, training the body to crave it. Heroin addiction withdrawal symptoms are intense and can include: cold sweats, depression and anxiety, loss of appetite, unstable moods, muscle cramping, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures.

Seeking Help

For any addict, admitting there is a problem and seeking help are sometimes the most difficult first steps. If someone you love is addicted to heroin, it’s essential to take that brave step of confronting them about it. However, realize that drug addiction is stigmatized to such a degree that any anger or accusation element introduced into this conversation will be counter-productive. It’s important to come from a place of care and loving support, with an ongoing reassurance that you are there for the person.

The challenges can be significant even when the situation is approached with the best intentions and utmost care. There is professional help available. Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) is a resource that teaches family and friends effective strategies for helping their loved one to change and for feeling better themselves. CRAFT works to affect the loved one’s behavior by changing the way the family interacts with him or her. According to their website, it is designed to accomplish three goals:

  1. When a loved one is abusing substances and refusing to get help, CRAFT helps families move their loved one toward treatment.
  1. CRAFT helps reduce the loved one’s alcohol and drug use, whether or not the loved one has engaged in treatment yet.
  1. CRAFT improves the lives of concerned family and friends.

Hope for the Future

While the facts and figures relating to addiction can be horrifying, there is hope. The plus side of those daunting numbers is that a great deal of research, study, time and effort has gone into finding solutions for heroin treatment. People are different, and addicts differ greatly in their underlying causes for addiction, which means there is no one-shot treatment that will be effective for everybody. Many approaches are available, many options for seeking a full recovery. One such option is Choices Recovery Program, founded by Per Wickstrom, himself a rehabilitated addict. Mr. Wickstrom believes that no matter what mistakes you’ve made in the past and no matter what your age is, you can overcome anything, be successful and lead a healthy life. Mr. Wickstrom was able to do this himself after he had suffered from addiction for over 22 years.

Heroin Addiction Recovery Stories

heroin addiction recovery stories

Having an addiction to any substance can take over someone’s life. Addiction isn’t a choice someone makes. Sometimes a person can be trying something for the first time and can create an addiction after only the first time abusing the substance. Regardless of how someone became addicted to a substance or what substance they are addicted to, being able to reach recovery through the storm of addiction can be one of the most rewarding things a person could do. Here you will read shared heroin addiction recovery stories from individuals who are now in recovery from addiction.

It is common for a person to go from one substance to another.  A lot of times people become addicted to prescription pills that they once needed and were prescribed. They begin to enjoy the feeling they are receiving from the prescription and eventually want more of it, or the pills aren’t enough of a high so they then turn to other substances like heroin to continue the feeling they began to feel from the prescription pills. Heroin Recovery along with recovery from other substances at the same time can be very accomplishing.

Christina’s Story of Heroin Addiction Recovery

This is what began to happen to Christina, who suffered a back injury and was prescribed pain medication to help with the back pain. Becoming addicted to the pain medication wasn’t the plan or expectation for Christina. When first prescribed she simply took them as ordered by the Dr. and even taking them as she was supposed to she began to enjoy the feeling they pills gave her. She felt they “Gave her more energy”. When really, they didn’t. It was just all a part of the euphoric feeling she was receiving from the medicine.

Where the Addiction Began

Enjoying the feeling she was receiving from the medicine she began to take it increasingly. When she ran out and no longer had the pills to receive the feeling she was craving, she turned to heroin. Like many people who suffer from addiction, she hurt many people who were close to her and did many things she would never imagine possible when under the influence. When people suffer from addiction they tend to hurt and do wrong to the people closest to them that love them the most. The hardest part about it is they know they are hurting the ones they love, they know they are doing the wrong things, and they know addiction is controlling their life. It takes a very strong willed person to be able to find themselves help and to get the help and work on changing their lives for the better! Luckily that is exactly what Christina was able to do.

Christina was able to get herself into Choices Recovery Center and finally get the help she needed. Choices was able to help make Christina feel like she mattered, to feel like she had a purpose and to know she didn’t have to live everyday of her life alone!




When suffering from addiction, getting yourself or your loved one into a treatment center can save your life or theirs! It can save you from a possible overdose that could have occurred with only one more use. Attending a treatment center can be the most effective way to get your life into recovery and on the right path again.

Getting Lost in Addiction

When caught up in an addiction it is easy to forget about the most important things in your life. Responsibilities, family, and friends are things that can remain there for a person during their addiction. Sometimes those are the things that are lost track of. This is what happened for Corey. When finally coming into recovery from his addiction it started to affect him by how much he was affecting others in his life. It was a sad and hard thing to deal with. Corey is thankful for his recovery that he was able to notice the things he was taking for granted while battling his addiction.

Addiction Controlling Lives

When under the influence of drugs or alcohol people begin to ignore the things that matter the most to them. They do betraying things to the people they love the most. Corey was lucky to be able to have the chance to get things back right with his son and on the right track and to be able to still have his family by his side. A lot of people give up on their loved ones because they are suffering from an addiction. When someone is suffering from addiction and gets so wrapped up in it, that’s all the people on the outside see is the addiction. Just like it’s hard for people to lose the people closest to them while wrapped up in addiction, it’s also hard for people to give up on someone they love because of an addiction.

Corey states that addiction isn’t fun. To some it may be an enjoyable high or time while using, but when a hard addiction occurs it becomes scary. A person can want more than anything to stop abusing drugs or alcohol but are simply terrified to do so. It’s the first step of detox and withdrawal than people are afraid to take. Going to a treatment center there is support so that first step isn’t one taken alone and is safe.

When finally getting into heroin addiction recovery Corey wanted to help others. He recognized the help he received from Choices Recovery and wanted to be able to help others, “Because in the end that’s what it’s about. People need help!”


Never hesitate to reach out for help for taking the first step in recovery for you or a loved one and call today!