By The Orlando Recovery Center
Editor Erica Weiman | Medically Reviewed By Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Last Updated: April 10, 2023
Editorial Policy | Research Policy
If you are in an immediate emergency, call 911. If you are looking for more information on substance abuse treatment and it is not a medical emergency, call our 24/7 Heroin Helpline at 844-584-4185.
Heroin Abuse in Orlando
Heroin has hit Florida hard for years, causing a death rate of 3.5 per 100,000 Floridians as of 2019, representing almost 700 lives lost per year. During the COVID-19 pandemic, deaths have continued to spike, with overdose deaths overall increasing 70%. If you or a loved one struggle with heroin, it is important to understand the risks of addiction and how to seek help.
How Heroin Addiction Happens
Opiates and opioids are highly addictive drugs. Even when taking prescription opioids as prescribed, there is still a risk of addiction. Up to 12% of people who take prescription opioids develop an opioid use disorder, and up to 6% eventually transition to heroin, becoming addicted to the drug.
Common Signs of Heroin Addiction
The signs of heroin addiction can vary based on genetic makeup, the amount of the drug used, the frequency of use and the dependency on the drug. There are several signs of heroin use with varying identifiers, including psychological, physical and behavioral signs.
Psychological signs and symptoms include:
Behavioral signs and symptoms include:
- Avoiding loved ones
- Decreased personal hygiene
- Losing interest in favorite activities
- Increased sleeping
- Apathy and lack of motivation
- Wearing long pants and shirts, even in warm weather
- Interpersonal problems with family and friends
Physical signs and symptoms include:
- Track marks on arms and legs (if injected)
- Constantly running nose (if snorted)
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea, vomiting and weight loss
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Dry mouth
- Warm, flushed skin
- Extreme itching
- Scabs or bruises (the result of picking at the skin)
Why Is Heroin Addictive?
Heroin is highly addictive because it triggers the brain’s reward system. This leads to a surge in dopamine, the brain’s feel-good chemical, that leads to a craving for the drug.
People who regularly use heroin often develop a tolerance, which means that they need larger amounts or more frequent doses of the drug to get the desired effects. A substance use disorder may develop and cause health problems and failure to meet responsibilities at work, school or home.
What does heroin look like?
Heroin is typically a white or brownish powder with the texture of sugar, starch or powdered milk. Heroin can also be a black sticky substance known as black tar heroin.
What is heroin made of?
Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine. Morphine is a natural substance taken from the seeds of opium poppy plants. Dealers may also mix other substances into the heroin to increase its weight, to profit financially by selling less of the actual drug at a time. These added substances may be sugar, powdered milk or baking soda.
How bad is the heroin epidemic in Orlando/Florida?
As of 2019, approximately 3.5 out of every 100,000 Floridians experienced a heroin overdose. Overdose deaths have spiked 70% during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and remain high.
Heroin Addiction Treatment in Orlando, Florida
Struggling with a heroin use disorder may make you feel hopeless, but help is always available. Heroin detox centers, like the one offered at the Orlando Recovery Center, can help you stop using heroin while minimizing withdrawal symptoms.
After detox, the hard work of rehab can begin, where you learn to live a heroin-free life and develop coping skills to avoid relapse. The Orlando Recovery Center offers medical detox, inpatient and outpatient rehab services, helping you every step of the way as you recover from addiction and start a new, drug-free life. Contact us today.
See More: Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab
Resources for Heroin Addiction
An addiction to heroin can occur quickly, but there is hope. Facilities like the Orlando Recovery Center can help you, along with these local resources:
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What Are the Signs of Having a Problem With Drugs?” January 4, 2021. Accessed November 21, 2021.
Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration. “Heroin.” April 2020. Accessed November 21, 2021.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Opioid Overdose Crisis.” March 11, 2021. Accessed November 21, 2021.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “2018-2019 Heroin Overdose Data.” March 19, 2021. Accessed November 21, 2021.
Santich, Kate. “Central Florida drug OD deaths up 70% du[…] COVID, report shows.” Orlando Sentinel, December 2, 2020. Accessed November 21, 2021.
Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board. “Start treating opioid overdoses and deat[…]t as an afterthought,” Orlando Sentinel, September 3, 2021. Accessed November 21, 2021.