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Marjorie Gies, M.D. Psychiatrist & Medical Director

Are There Addiction Support Groups for Women?

For Women By Women

Heroin Addiction Treatment

Heroin is one of the most addictive substances on the planet. The drug is so potent that many users become hooked on this potent drug after the first use. For those addicted to heroin, the drug has a devastating impact on their lives, their family, and the community at large. Heroin addiction is often a life-or-death struggle, and those who desire to get clean and sober feel like they are walking through hell to get better. While heroin addiction is harrowing, it is very treatable with professional help. This article will go further into depth on heroin as a drug and the signs and symptoms of heroin addiction. Most importantly, you will learn more about the women's heroin rehab program at Casa Serena and how you can get on the road to recovery. If you are struggling with heroin addiction, call Casa Serena right now!

Learn More About Heroin Addiction

Introduction to Heroin Addiction

To understand the perils of heroin addiction, you first need to know about the drug itself. Heroin is derived from morphine, the natural substance extracted from the pods found on the poppy plant. This plant is most plentiful in Southwest and Southeast Asia, but in recent years there has been a significant increase in heroin production throughout Latin America. Known as an opiate drug, heroin can be administered in a variety of ways. It is most commonly injected into the veins but can also be smoked and snorted. While most commonly found in white powder form, heroin can also be brown in color. When administered, heroin quickly enters the brain and converts to morphine. Heroin attaches to specific receptors in the brain called opioid receptors. These receptors block pain messages and create a profound feeling of relaxation and calm. Heroin acts upon the brain's reward center and floods this area with dopamine, which is the brain's natural "feel good" chemical. When dopamine floods the reward center of the brain, it reinforces feelings of pleasure, and users will continue to use the drug to feel the same effects.

Heroin is a potent central nervous system depressant. It slows down breathing, heart rate, and respiration. If people take too large a dose of the drug, their breathing can stop, and they can slip into a coma and even die due to overdose. Chronic use of heroin leads to serious physical and mental issues. One major impact on the body is the development of hepatitis B, C, and HIV as a result of sharing dirty needles. Other serious effects include:

  • Bad teeth and inflammation of the gums

  • Weakened immune system

  • Respiratory (breathing) illnesses

  • Muscular weakness, partial paralysis

  • Loss of memory

  • Depression

  • Insomnia

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    The Signs and Symptoms

    Signs and Symptoms of a
    Heroin Addiction

    In general, people can become addicted to heroin in a matter of 2-3 weeks. As their intake increases and they slide further into addiction, users will display a wide variety of symptoms that can be seen in four areas: physical, psychological, mood, and behavioral. The following section will take a deeper dive into the specific signs and symptoms of heroin addiction in each of these four areas.


    The trademark physical symptom of heroin addiction is the presence of track marks on the user’s arms, legs, and other body parts. This is seen in heroin users who inject the drug via a needle, which is the most common route of administration. Other symptoms include:

    constant runny nose

    shallow breathing

    nausea and vomiting

    flushed skin

    constricted pupils.

    Users also experience dry mouth and frequently contract respiratory infections. Since heroin is an appetite suppressant, users will lose significant weight and will look emaciated. Heroin also produces histamines in the body, which cause the skin to become itchy and irritated. Persistent scratching will give users scabs and bruises.


    Heroin robs the brain’s ability to produce neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. Chronic heroin users use the drug not so much to feel euphoria as to function normally and without sickness or pain. Long-term heroin users will experience psychological symptoms such as visual, audial, and tactile hallucinations. Chronic heroin users also become confused and unaware of their surroundings, and they will experience paranoia and delusions.


    Heroin addiction significantly impacts brain chemistry and functioning. As a result, the user’s moods become more erratic and volatile. When the effects of heroin wear off, users can experience periods of depression as well as anxiety. When on the drug, users experience euphoria, contentment, and happiness. Additionally, heroin users often experience irritability and agitation, as well as display verbal and physical hostility towards others. 


    One of the most common behavioral signs of heroin addiction is isolation from loved ones. When confronted about their use of heroin, users will often become defensive and combative and lie about their use. They may also rationalize their use and blame others for their addiction. Heroin addicts are preoccupied with using the drug and spend their daily energy obtaining heroin and finding money to buy it. As a result, their family, work and education suffer and they care less and less about their hygiene and personal appearance. Other behavioral symptoms include slurred speech, apathy, and periods of activity followed by considerable periods of exhaustion and sleep.

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    Casa Serena

    Our Women's Heroin Rehab
    Program in California

    While the impacts of heroin addiction are devastating, it is a treatable condition. At our Santa Barbara women’s rehab, our compassionate and experienced treatment staff will design a personalized rehab program that perfectly fits your unique needs and treatment goals. When you enter our Santa Barbara treatment facility, you will undergo a comprehensive physical and psychological assessment to determine the best treatment course. The following are the important components of care found in our heroin rehab in Southern California:


    The first and most important step in recovery is detoxification. When you cease heroin use, your body and brain will experience withdrawal symptoms that can be very painful to endure. To safely wean you off of heroin, you must undergo medical detoxification. Our women’s heroin rehab program features a detox program that features 24-hour medical care provided by experienced personnel in a safe and secure environment. Our Southern California women’s detox program features medication management and other appropriate interventions that help you become physically and mentally stable.

    Multiple Levels of Care

    You are unique in your addiction and your treatment needs. To meet those needs, Casa Serena features multiple levels of care to help you address your heroin addiction. We offer a residential treatment program that allows you to live at the facility while you receive intensive treatment services. In addition to individual therapy, group therapy, and 12-step support, you will receive individual case management, nutritional therapy, dual diagnosis therapy, and other holistic therapies that provide healing of mind, body, and spirit.

    If you are unable to commit to significant time away from work and family, our California heroin rehab offers evidence-based outpatient programs. If you need the intensive services found in a residential program but have the flexibility to live at home, our intensive outpatient program will be beneficial to you. If you need immediate dual diagnosis care and are in immediate danger of relapse, our partial hospitalization program will be your best option. Our traditional women’s outpatient program will be your best option if your heroin addiction is mild and you don’t require detox or medical care.

    To help you better transition back home after treatment, we offer lifetime aftercare where you receive support from past graduates of Casa Serena. Additionally, our transitional living program allows you to work your program of recovery and receive the support of others who have started their own recovery journey. Our transitional living and aftercare programs give you the confidence to transform yourself into the healthy and happy person you were meant to be.


    Our Counselors Are Here to Help

    Casa Serena Can Help You On Your Path to Recovery from Heroin

    Are you struggling with heroin addiction? Do you feel you are fighting for your life, and help is out of reach? Don't despair; help is one phone call away. Casa Serena is one of the premier women's heroin rehab in Southern California. For years, Casa Serena has helped countless addicts find peace and serenity through sobriety. Our evidence-based programs and compassionate care empower you to break free from the grip of heroin addiction for good. Call today and take your first steps towards freedom.


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