Mom trying convince son to check into one of Gateways heroin addiction treatment centers in Chicago

Heroin addiction is a problem that continues to grow. Overcoming your heroin addiction takes a combination of factors. A strong support community, evidenced-based therapies and a holistic approach to Addiction Medicine can all contribute to your healing. This is what our heroin addiction treatment centers at Gateway Foundation offer you when you are ready to seek recovery.

Our heroin treatment centers provide a safe space where you can seek the help you need to overcome your addiction. You can count on our experienced, compassionate staff of doctors, therapists and other professionals to help you through your process. At Gateway, you learn to identify and deal with the situations and conditions that might have contributed to your addiction. We support you from the first step of Withdrawal Management through our heroin addiction treatment program and beyond. We believe addiction is a lifelong illness, so our program includes post-treatment support with our active Alumni Community.


Heroin addiction is one of the most horrific drug use issues affecting regions across the United States from coast to coast.

Heroin is an illicit and highly addictive drug derived from morphine, so its chemical makeup is similar. This makes it part of a group of drugs known as opioids, which are either synthetically processed or naturally extracted from the seed pod of the poppy plant. Opioids interact with your brain’s opioid receptors to bring pain relief, relaxation and intense feelings of pleasure and euphoria.


Heroin comes in many forms. Pure heroin is a fine, white powder that generally originates from South America or Southeast Asia. This type of heroin dominates markets throughout the Eastern United States. Pure heroin can be snorted or smoked and may seem more appealing because users don’t have to inject it. Other forms of heroin include:

  • Black tar heroin, which is sticky like roofing tar
  • Ligh brown rock heroin, which comes in tiny pieces

These darker heroin types result from crude processing methods and are predominantly produced in Mexico. Sold in markets throughout the western United States, these impure forms of heroin are usually dissolved or diluted and then injected into the body.


Heroin was originally developed in the later 1800s as a less harmful alternative to morphine. Scientists even considered it a potential cure for morphine addiction. Heroin was also used for tuberculosis and other coughing ailments. By the early 1900s, however, its addictive properties were fully recognized. By 1924, the Anti-Heroin Act made it illegal to produce, import or sell heroin. By the mid-twentieth century, heroin was considered the poster child of hardcore drug use.


Heroin has ruined countless lives, especially among the economically disadvantaged and veterans. While the drug’s use fell a bit during the late twentieth century, heroin has seen a resurgence in the early 2000s as the number of people addicted to prescription opioids increased. In fact, 80% of those addicted to heroin reported using prescription opioids before turning to the drug when the cost of their medication became too high. Heroin use is no longer dominant in urban areas alone, but also in suburban and rural communities.

In 2006, about 90,000 people admitted to using heroin for the first time. By 2016, this number dramatically jumped to 170,000.


The physical side effects of a heroin addiction tend to be similar to other opioid use disorders, including:

  • Itchy skin or constant scratching
  • Flushed skin
  • Dry mouth
  • Constricted or small pupils
  • Chronic drowsiness or grogginess and falling asleep without warning
  • Slurred or incoherent speech
  • Slowed, irregular breathing
  • Lowered body temperature and heart rate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pains and other digestive issues, like constipation
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Malnutrition

Like other drugs, heroin use can lead to many adverse health consequences when abused long-term. Some of the most pervasive health concerns caused by chronic heroin misuse include:

  • Collapsed veins due to injecting the drug
  • Skin infections
  • Pneumonia, lung infection and other lung-related conditions
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Brain damage
  • Damage to the heart
  • Constipation and other chronic digestive issues
  • Sexual dysfunction in men or infertility in women
  • Increased risk of ​bloodborne illnesses such as HIV or hepatitis
  • Increased risk of developing mental health disorders

One of the starkest dangers involved with heroin use is the risk of a drug overdose. Heroin and other opioids affect the body’s drive to breathe, and an overdose can cause users to slowly stop breathing over the course of hours or mere minutes. Although the U.S. government does not keep track of the specific number of heroin overdose-related deaths, the number of opioid-involved overdose deaths has been steadily rising for the last 20 years. It now remains at nearly 47,000 fatalities per year.

If you’re afraid that you or someone you know has overdosed on heroin, call 911 immediately.


While many of the side effects of heroin use are physical, others manifest themselves in how a person behaves — including changes to their personality and mood. Some of the behavioral and psychological warning signs of heroin use include:

  • Impaired judgment
  • Irritability or hostile behavior
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of motivation
  • Lack of interest in activities they once enjoyed
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Lying or deceptive behavior
  • Avoiding loved ones
  • Problems at school or work
  • Repeatedly borrowing or stealing money
  • Wearing pants or long sleeves to hide needle marks
  • Evidence of drug paraphernalia, such as syringes or burnt spoons
  • Inattention to personal hygiene


At our heroin addiction treatment centers, you can find Residential, Outpatient and aftercare programs designed to fit all your needs. With the focus on your particular situation, our personalized plans include Dual Diagnosis Treatment for other mental health conditions or trauma you might have suffered. Our highly specialized programs include adult men’s and women’s programs as well as fully-online treatment for adolescents.

You work closely with our medical professionals to create an individual heroin addiction treatment program. Your individualized plan might include Medication-Assisted Treatment to help you manage withdrawal symptoms. These can include cravings, mood swings, fever and pain, which can be uncomfortable. You can expect a holistic approach to Addiction Medicine, which treats your body, mind and spirit, healing the whole person. Treatment options include a Residential Treatment setting in our heroin treatment centers, which allows you to pursue your recovery without additional distractions. You can continue treatment in an Outpatient capacity. This is also an option if you cannot leave your normal life for an extended period due to your obligations.


With a wide range of Evidence-based therapies, you can find comfort in knowing that your personalized heroin addiction treatment program will provide you with the tools and skills you need to overcome addiction and return to real life. In our heroin addiction treatment centers, you work at overcoming your addiction, while developing healthy nutrition and exercise habits. You also acquire the skills necessary for stress management while working on positive interpersonal relationships. Through Individual, Group and Family Therapy, you explore possible addiction triggers, while participating in our proven treatment program. At our heroin treatment centers, we include therapies and programs such as:


Our heroin addiction treatment centers include lifelong support to keep you focused on recovery once you return to your real life. When you complete our treatment program, you learn about your strengths and how to build on them and use them. You also learn about the triggers that you must overcome and manage and how to handle situations where these triggers might be present. To help you remain on your path of recovery, we invite you to participate in our strong Recovery Community. There, you can find people who have gone through situations similar to yours. You can participate in addiction recovery support groups, lead support groups and help plan activities for other recovering patients. We also offer you the possibility of sharing your own story of recovery with others. Finally, you can reconnect with therapists when you need them.

When you are ready to overcome your heroin addiction, you can depend on getting the help you need in our heroin addiction treatment centers. Call us today at 877-381-6538 and start your recovery journey.