Teen Challenge Adventure Ranch has a complete course of heroin addiction treatment, including an extensive Aftercare Program to protect against relapse. – Christian boarding schools and residential schools for troubled boys.

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Heroin Addiction Treatment for Teens

Heroin is perhaps the most well-known opiate. It can be injected, inhaled, or smoked, and it is world-famous for its intense addictive properties and its highly lethal potential. Heroin addicts experience a huge range of negative effects which impact their entire lives and can lead ultimately to death by overdose or other complications.

Heroin Addiction History and Prevalence

Heroin is part of a family of drugs called opiates. Opiates have powerful effects, primarily acting by reducing pain and producing a sense of euphoria. This family of drugs includes opium, codeine, and morphine, all of which have similar properties and are used for limited medical purposes. The first major wave of heroin use in the United States occurred after World War II, through the 1940’s and 50’s. The second epidemic struck around the time of the Vietnam War and ended in the late 1970’s.

Just about every 30 years, the United States experiences a boom in heroin use. Since the American public was introduced to the drug in the 40’s, it has remained more or less a constant presence in the American illicit drug market. The prevalence of heroin use over the last decade has gone off the charts. In 2002, just 1 in 1,000 people was battling with heroin addiction. By 2013, that number had doubled. In addition to skyrocketing instances of heroin abuse, lethal overdoses are currently at an all-time high, demonstrating the extremely lethal implications of heroin use.

Heroin is another addiction which, perhaps surprisingly, does not tend to discriminate based on typical demographics. That having been said, the most at-risk populations tend to be non-Hispanic white males between the ages of 18 and 25 who are living in large metropolitan areas. This is a large shift in the historic demographic of heroin users. Historically, black males in their 40’s and 50’s were at the greatest risk for heroin use and resultant complications, but data suggests that heroin abuse among non-whites is decreasing, while the presence of the drug increases in white suburban communities.

Many experts also attribute the resurgence of heroin to prescription drug addiction. Certain opioid pain medications like Vicodin or Oxycontin have highly addictive properties. Patients who are prescribed these drugs can easily become addicted and begin abusing them. When their prescription runs out or they find it difficult to acquire the quantities they need, they often turn to illicit street drugs like heroin, which are less expensive and easier to get. In fact, nearly 50% of young people addicted to heroin report abusing prescription opioids before turning to heroin3.

Outward Symptoms/Signs

Signs of heroin abuse are distinct and appear very early on in the timeline of addiction. Some physical symptoms to look for include4:

  • • Slurred speech
  • • Constricted pupils
  • • Lethargy, half-lidded eyes, falling asleep or “nodding off” without warning.
  • • Nausea and vomiting
  • • Loss of appetite and weight loss.
  • • Instances of extreme euphoria or joyfulness.

The physical symptoms are highly noticeable, and the behavioral changes in an addict are equally obvious. More than other drugs, heroin will begin to affect an addict’s wardrobe. The heroin addict will frequently prefer long-sleeved, baggy clothing which serves the purpose of concealing needle marks and abscesses while also hiding weight loss. They will also be likely to neglect personal hygiene, not bathing or brushing their teeth and wearing the same clothes for several days on end. Also be alert to any general shiftiness on the part of a potential addict. They may lie frequently about their activities, steal money or possessions in order to fund their habit, or spend time with questionable people.

Typical Cost to Addict

While considered to be a cheaper alternative to prescription drugs, heroin addiction is by no means inexpensive. To make things worse, the price can skyrocket as the addict develops an increasing tolerance. Like many street drugs, it can be difficult to pinpoint how much a heroin addict may spend on their habit. Factors like the progression of the addiction, availability of the drug in any given area, and personal connections can all play a significant role. On average, however, a single dose of heroin costs about $20 and an addict with a relatively advanced habit can spend upwards of $200 a day on their addiction.

To further complicate things, a heroin addict is rarely employable, simply given the side effects of heroin. As a result, the instances of heroin addicts turning to a life of crime are extremely high. Heroin addicts are notorious for stealing just about anything they can get their hands on, turning stolen goods over to pawn shops and immediately buying heroin with the funds. Once this cycle begins it is only a matter of time before most addicts end up in jail or prison. Once in a criminal facility, addicts are unfortunately able to continue their addiction, as the presence of heroin and other illicit drugs within the criminal justice system is rampant. Thus, the cycle becomes extremely difficult to break, without any viable respite from heroin aside from dedicated facilities like rehabs.

Effect on the Addict

Heroin takes an awful toll on the health of an addicted person. While injection is the most dangerous means of taking the drug, all mechanisms of heroin use have short- and long-term risks which range from severe to lethal.

Intravenous heroin users will cause irreparable damage to their veins in short order. Repeated injection at the same sites will lead rapidly to collapsed veins and a variety of infections. These infections can create large abscesses on the skin’s surface which can become life-threatening. The full scope of relatively minor, short-term effects include bad teeth, constipation, a weakened immune system, respiratory illnesses, muscular atrophy, reduced sexual capacity, menstrual disturbance, depression, and insomnia.

Naturally, the longer a heroin addict is active in their addiction, the worse the side effects become. Heroin addicts commonly share needles with one another, which can lead to HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis-C, both of which are life-long illnesses which, left untreated, can kill the addict. Heroin addicts also run a high risk of contracting tuberculosis and arthritis, as a result of overall poor health and the action of the drug on the body.

Heroin Addiction Permanence and Relapse

Heroin is, in many ways, the “benchmark” for addiction. It’s considered by some to be the most addictive substance on Earth. The reasons for this seem to be primarily the psychological impact of a person’s first use of the drug. Most users report a feeling of euphoria matched by nothing they have ever felt before, with the only side effect being a rapidly subsiding nausea. Users will continue to chase this first experience as long as they are physically able, in most cases.


Like many other addictive substances, repeated exposure to heroin can begin to permanently alter a person’s brain chemistry. This results in long-term imbalances in neuronal and hormonal systems which can not be easily undone by simply abstaining from the drug for a time.


As a result, the rate of relapse among heroin addicts is extremely high, with early recovery posing the greatest threat to an addict’s ongoing sobriety. Studies have shown that the relapse rate among addicts during the first 3 months of abstinence is as high as 90%. Through the use of drugs like methadone or buprenorphine, some studies report a significantly lower rate of relapse at around 50%.

Heroin Addiction Detox

A heroin detox is extremely uncomfortable and painful. In fact, for many addicts, it is fear of this withdrawal which drives their addiction as much as any other factor. Unlike some other drugs, however, the risks of quitting heroin “cold-turkey” are relatively minor. The heroin addict will likely go through severe withdrawal symptoms for about a week, but can usually go through this experience in an outpatient setting unless they are coming off of multiple drugs simultaneously. Withdrawal symptoms for heroin typically include nausea, abdominal pain, depression, muscle spasms, intense craving, shaking, and sweating. These symptoms will typically begin between 6-12 hours after the last dose, and go on for up to 10 days.

Medically monitored detox from heroin has come a long way in recent years. Researchers have discovered several drugs which can mitigate the pain of withdrawal and even act to reduce cravings. Commonly prescribed drugs for heroin withdrawal, include buprenorphine, methadone, or naltrexone. These drugs act primarily by suppressing cravings, allowing the addict to complete the detox process without relapsing.

Physical/Mental Difficulty of Recovery

Heroin recovery is extremely difficult. The reasons for this are manifold, but stem primarily from the extreme discomfort associated with the withdrawal and the intensity of a heroin high. For years after their first “high”, heroin addicts can still recall, with startling clarity, their first euphoric heroin experience.

Recovery from heroin addiction, therefore, is a long and challenging process. In this time, they may need the assistance of maintenance therapy, i.e. medically supervised administration of drugs like Suboxone or methadone. They may also need therapy or 12-step assistance to work through many of the underlying psychological triggers or trauma which can lead to relapse if left untreated. Typically the highest rates of successful recovery from heroin are the result of a comprehensive plan put together by medical professionals and other recovered addicts.

Teen Challenge Adventure Ranch is a certified addiction treatment center. If your son is struggling with addiction t o heroin, he needs professional help to ensure permanent recovery. This program employs experienced and well-educated therapists and counselors to make sure that his drug addiction is a thing of the past. Drug addiction has turned your son into a shell of his former self. You don’t even recognize your own child and, at times, you might even be frightened of him. These experiences are all perfectly normal. It’s important to understand that, as terrifying and all-consuming as addiction might be, there is a solution. There is a way out.

Teen Challenge Adventure Ranch has a complete course of heroin addiction treatment, including an extensive Aftercare Program to protect against relapse. Call 888-289-6818 today – swift action can prevent your teenager’s addiction from spiraling further out of control.

Teen Challenge Endorsers

  • Ronald Reagan

    Former President

    Ronald Reagan

    “Teen Challenge gives our kids something to live for – a relationship with God, a healthy self-esteem, and a direction in their lives that finally leads somewhere.”

  • John Ashcroft

    Former Attorney General

    John Ashcroft

    “Teen Challenge changes the world one person at a time.”

  • Charles Colson

    Founder, Prison Fellowship

    Charles Colson

    “The Teen Challenge program succeeds when all of the government programs have failed.”

  • George Bush

    Former President

    George W. Bush

    “Too many young [people] have already lost their lives. Teen Challenge works to change young people’s lives by changing their hearts.”

  • Art Linkletter

    Television Personality

    Art Linkletter

    “In my opinion, Teen Challenge is doing the best all-around job of providing the kids with something meaningful in their lives. And that’s what they all need.”

  • John Howard

    Former US Drug Czar

    Dr. John A. Howard

    “Of all the programs reported to the Commission, the most successful is the program conducted by Teen Challenge.”

  • Jim Blanchard

    Past Director, AT&T Corporation

    Jim Blanchard

    “Teen Challenge is one of the most successful programs in our country.”

About Our Director

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Darren Reynolds, MA, is a tireless innovator and team-builder.  He has worked with troubled youth for nearly 30 years. He became the Executive Director of Teen Challenge Adventure Ranch in 1996. He holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling.

PO Box 20 • Morrow, AR 72749
Telephone: (888) 289-6818
Fax: (888) 844-1669

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Should you need help finding religious boarding schools, boarding schools, therapeutic boarding schools for boys or private boarding schools, please let us know. Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance taken from the seed pod of various opium poppy plants. Heroin can be a white or brown powder, or a black sticky substance known as black tar heroin. People inject, sniff, snort, or smoke heroin. Some people mix heroin with crack cocaine, called speedballing. Heroin enters the brain rapidly and binds to opioid receptors on cells located in many areas, especially those involved in feelings of pain and pleasure and in controlling heart rate, sleeping, and breathing. People who use heroin report feeling a "rush" (or euphoria). Other common effects include dry mouth, heavy feelings in the arms and legs, and clouded mental functioning.

Heroin Addiction Treatment for Teens | Teen Challenge Adventure Ranch

Teen Challenge Adventure Ranch has a complete course of heroin addiction treatment, including an extensive Aftercare Program to protect against relapse.

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