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Heroin and Opioid Addiction Guide

The purpose of this heroin and opioid addiction guide is to inform you. If you have an addiction to either one of these drugs, you need to be aware of it. You may not even realize you have an addiction. Many people don't. That is just how addiction works.

If you have been using either heroin or opioid drugs for quite some time, your chances of addiction are good. It's important for you to know how dangerous these drugs can be. Right now, you might be using these drugs because you like how they make you feel. If you're an opiate user, you may not even know that addiction is possible.

No one plans to get addicted when they start using drugs. This is true whether they're using heroin or opiates. Unfortunately, addiction does happen. When it does, it's important to be able to recognize it and know where to get help to stop using.

It is our goal to provide you as much information as possible. We hope that you'll find this heroin and opioid addiction guide to be very helpful.

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What is Heroin?

Heroin is an illegal drug that is extremely addictive. It is processed from morphine, which comes from certain varieties of poppy plants. Heroin is sold illegally on the street. It appears as a white or brown-tinted powder.

Heroin is typically cut with other substances to lessen its purity. This is done solely for the purpose of increasing profits for drug dealers. It can be cut with starches, quinine, sugars or other materials.

There is also another type of heroin known as black tar heroin. This type of sticky, and more like the consistency of roofing tar. Or, it can also be sold in hard chunks like coal. Its dark color indicates that there are many impurities that have been left behind in making it.

The terms diamorphine and diacetylmorphine are both additional names for heroin. In some countries, heroin is actually given as a pain reliever. In fact, this was its original purpose here in the United States as well.

For example, diamorphine can be given in the United Kingdom under extreme circumstances. It is only given in the hospital, and may even be administered to children.

Both diacetylmorphine and diamorphine may be given after a heart attack. They can also be administered to patients who have undergone cancer treatments and have pain.

Surprisingly enough, both diamorphine and diacetylmorphine have also been known to be used in opiate detox. However, in the United States, they are considered to be banned drugs. This is due to their addictive potential.

Heroin is synthesized from the morphine that comes from the poppy plant. The morphine that is used to make heroin in the U.S. comes from many different sources. It can come from:

  • Afghanistan - they produce up to 82% of the world's supply of heroin
  • Pakistan - an illegal source of morphine
  • Southeast Asia - another illegal source
  • South America - another illegal source of morphine
  • France, Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom - sources of legal opium and heroin

If you're wondering how heroin is made, it all starts with a ripe poppy plant. As the plant ripens, a white, milky substance comes out. This dries into a sticky resin, which is raw opium. This is what is made into morphine.

To make morphine, this substance is formed into bricks and dried in the sun. Acetic anhydride is then used to create heroin. Chemicals are used to purify the new drug.

Using heroine, the drug, can be done in a number of different ways. It can be smoked in a pipe or in a cigarette. One popular method of using heroin is to roll it with marijuana and consume both drugs together.

Quite often, when people start using heroin, they will snort the powder. This might be really dangerous, though, depending on what the drug has been cut with. Those who have been using heroin for longer usually prefer to inject it.

Injecting heroin involves mixing it with a liquid until it is completely dissolved. They will then locate a vein and inject it with a needle. This is the method that produces the fastest high.

The first heroin high is usually the "best" high people experience. After that first use, they are always trying to recreate the high. This is often referred to as "chasing the dragon."

No matter which way heroin is used, it is completely unsafe. However, injecting the heroine drug can be even more dangerous. People rarely use sterile needs, which increases their chances of infectious diseases. They increase their risks when the needles are shared with others.

What are Opioids?

Opioids are a classification of drugs that include both prescription painkillers and some illegal drugs. They are also called opiate drugs. They are all related to each other because they all come from morphine.

Opioid drugs work by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain and body. When prescription opioids are taken by prescription, they can be safe. However, they are also easily abused and highly addictive. Even when opioids are taken exactly according to the prescription, they can produce a euphoric effect. This effect is often what causes people to abuse them. Eventually, that abuse can lead to an addiction.

There is a difference between opioid vs. opiate, although these terms are used interchangeably all the time. The medical community considers them to be the same, in most cases.

Opiates are drugs that are made directly from the opium poppy plant. Some types of opiates include morphine, opium and codeine. Heroin is also considered to be an opiate drug.

Opioids are synthetic drugs or partially synthesized drugs that are made to work like opiates. They get their active ingredients from chemicals. The molecules in opioid drugs are similar to opiates, but there are some slight differences.

When it comes to opiates vs. opioids, these drugs work in relatively the same way. They both have pain-relieving qualities that alter the way pain is perceived. They both attach to opioid receptors in the body, which results in less pain.

Also, opiates and opioids will both affect how a person experiences pleasure. Someone who takes them will have sensations of euphoria and deep relaxation.

There are many different types of opioids that people can have prescribed for them. This list includes:

  • Methadone
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin)
  • Percocet
  • Vicodin
  • Lorcet
  • Lortab
  • Hydrocodone
  • Demerol
  • Dilaudid
  • Hydromorphone
  • Duragesic
  • Fentanyl

Usually, doctors will try to prescribe the lesser potent medications first. This is because the more potent a drug is, the higher the risk for abuse is.

Even so, opioid abuse and addiction in the United States continues to be a real concern. These drugs are abused all the time, and yet, doctors continue to prescribe them. They should never be given for long-term or chronic pain, but they are.

Heroin and Opioid Guide

Is Heroin an Opioid?

Yes, heroin is considered to be an opioid drug. In fact, it is one of the more dangerous opioid drugs in the world. People who use prescription opioid drugs will frequently move to heroin when they can no longer fill their prescriptions. They may try other methods of getting their prescription opiates first, such as doctor shopping. They may even attempt to order them online.

In the end, people who are addicted to opiate drugs first will move on to heroin. It is, after all, an opioid drug that will give them the same types of effects as their prescriptions.

Heroin User

In Depth Information About Heroin the Drug

Now that we have gone over some information on heroin and opioids, let's talk in more detail about heroin. If you are currently using heroin, or know someone who is, you need know as much as possible. This drug is incredibly dangerous, and the more you know, the more likely you are to get help.

The Heroin Epidemic in the United States

Everywhere you look, all over the United States, there is a heroin epidemic. This is a problem that largely stems from opioid addiction and abuse. Once you take a look at the statistics surrounding heroin addiction in the U.S., it's impossible to ignore this problem.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine tells us that:

  • In 2015, almost 600,000 people had a substance abuse disorder that involved heroin.
  • 23% of everyone who starts using heroin will develop an addiction.
  • Four out of five new heroin users will first start out by misusing their prescription opioid medications.
  • In 2014, 94% of survey responders said that they used heroin because opiates were too expensive. They were also much harder for them to obtain.
  • In 2015, about 21,000 teens reported having used heroin at some point during the last year.
  • 5,000 of these teens claimed to be current heroin users.
  • Around 6,000 teens had a heroin use disorder in the year 2014.
  • Women are believed to be more likely than men to use heroin.
  • This is because they are more likely than men to be prescribed higher doses of prescription opioids.

Clearly, the heroin problem in our country has gotten out of hand. It has grown to the point where people are desperate to find their next high. Something has to change before this problem gets much worse.

It's important to understand what heroin abuse is before you can understand heroin addiction. Heroin is an illegal drug. It has been deemed a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act. All Schedule 1 drugs have a high potential for abuse. This means that the United States has decided they serve no legitimate medical purpose.

Because heroin is an illegal drug, any use of it at all is considered to be heroin abuse. If someone uses heroin one time, it is heroin abuse. Abusing heroin does not necessarily mean that someone is addicted. Although heroin abuse will lead to addiction if it is allowed to continue.

Someone who is abusing heroin may experience many of the common heroin effects from the drug. We will cover these in just a moment. However, as long as an addiction hasn't formed, that person should be able to stop.

Heroin abuse is characterized by the use of heroin without a compulsion to use. That individual doesn't feel compelled to use at all. He or she may like the way the heroine drug makes them feel, but that's all. When stopping the drug, there are no heroin withdrawal symptoms.

Again, heroin abuse can lead to heroin addiction. For many people, it does.

A heroin addiction is what occurs when someone has been using heroin for too long. There are some who believe that it's possible to form an addiction to heroin after one use. Other experts disagree. However, if someone was previously using prescription opioids, a heroin addiction can be instantaneous.

When you are addicted to heroin, you feel as though you need the drug all the time. You may not be able to go a day without using. Otherwise, you begin experiencing heroin withdrawal symptoms. Heroin addicts don't feel like themselves without the drug in their systems. They may struggle to get through the day without it.

A heroin addiction is a disease. However, it's not a disease that cannot be treated. It is highly treatable. If you are addicted to heroin, you shouldn't stop using it on your own. Doing so can have devastating consequences. In some instances, it can even be fatal.

Are you a heroin addict? You might feel like you have complete control over your heroin usage. However, the fact is that most people who feel in control really are not.

When people feel in control of their heroin use, but they really have an addiction, this is called denial. Sometimes people live in denial for their entire lives. It's so important for you to learn the truth about your relationship with heroin.

If you are a heroin addict, you probably show some of the classic signs of heroin addiction. The signs and symptoms of heroin addiction can include some of the following:

  • Frequent nose bleeds
  • Itchiness of the skin
  • A pale complexion
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Frequent colds or other illnesses
  • Sudden hair loss

If you don't notice many of the physical signs of heroin addiction, you may notice some behavioral signs. These might include:

  • Feelings of anxiousness
  • Lying or dishonest behaviors
  • Strange or altered sleeping habits
  • Suddenly becoming isolated
  • Loss of your appetite
  • Frequently feeling tired or exhausted

Do any of these sound familiar to you? If they do, then you could very well have a heroin addiction.

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Do You Have a Heroin Addiction? Take a Quiz to Learn More

Even after going over the above heroin addiction signs, you may still be doubtful. It can be so hard to recognize a heroin addiction in ourselves. There are other ways that you can find out if you're a heroin addict.

One of those ways is by taking a heroin addiction quiz. This quiz will ask you some questions about your heroin use. It's important to be honest when you're answering the questions. Your honesty will help you understand if you are addicted.

Once you finish the quiz, you'll get to see your results right away. Please, take your results seriously. If you are a heroin addict, getting professional help should be your number one concern.

Heroin Addiction Quiz

Talking with Someone About Your Heroin Use and Possible Heroin Addiction

Of course, the best way to find out if you're a heroin addict is to talk with a professional. That will allow you to tell your story and get a professional's opinion about what you should do.

Many drug rehab facilities offer free assessments over the phone. They will connect you with someone who will be able to help you right away.

No matter what, if you have a heroin addiction, you need to find out right away. Please don't put this off. Finding out the truth is the best way to help you know what the next step is for you to take.

What Heroin Side Effects Should Concern You?

Heroin is a very powerful, potent drug. Because it is an opiate, you should assume that using it will produce many side effects. Some heroin side effects might be seen as only a little troublesome at first. However, they do tend to increase in their severity as time goes on.

Some common side effects of heroin include:

  • Becoming short of breath very easily
  • Having a dry mouth
  • Having constricted pupils
  • Experiencing sudden changes in your behavior
  • Becoming easily disoriented
  • Feeling hyper alert
  • Quickly becoming tired after periods of alertness
  • Feeling like your arms and legs are heavy

Unfortunately, people usually tend to ignore these side effects. Instead, they focus on how good they feel because they used heroin. Over time, it can become easier to ignore heroin's side effects because the addiction has taken control.

Many of the short-term effects of heroin are a cause for concern. Again, they usually aren't enough to deter people from using. The short-term heroin effects can be experienced after just one use of the drug. They do tend to get worse as time goes on.

Some common short-term heroin effects include:

  • A warm flushing of the skin
  • A very dry mouth
  • Chronic itchiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling drowsy for several hours
  • Slowed heart function
  • Slower breathing rate
  • Brain fog

After just one use of heroin, your life is at risk. This is something people often don't realize. Using heroin may cause you severe medical complications. These can happen whether you have a prior medical history or not. You could be at risk of a coma, seizures or other problems.

Of course, the longer you use heroin, the more problematic this drug becomes. You put yourself at great risk when you use heroin long-term. Many of the long-term heroin effects can be devastating.

Some of the long-term heroin effects include:

  • Deterioration of the white matter in the brain
  • Problems making decisions
  • Problems controlling your behaviors
  • Difficulty responding in stressful situations
  • An ever-increasing risk of tolerance and addiction
  • Extreme weight loss

There are so many risks involved with using heroin. Still, people continue to considerate a good way to get high. The cycle of addiction can be a difficult one to break out of. The long-term effects of heroin simply are not worth it.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms People Commonly Experience

When you stop using heroin, you are going to experience the effects of that. This is what is known as heroin withdrawal symptoms.

Heroin withdrawal can become very severe at times. It's very difficult to get through it when you try to quit using on your own. This is why doing so is never recommended. Remember, heroin is a powerful drug, and heroin withdrawal symptoms are just as powerful.

Some common symptoms of heroin withdrawal that you might experience include:

  • Experiencing symptoms of anxiety
  • Having muscle aches throughout your body
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Profuse hot or cold sweats
  • A constant runny nose
  • Tearing of your eyes
  • Becoming easily agitated

As time goes on, heroin withdrawal tends to get worse. Additional symptoms you might experience include:

  • Getting goose bumps
  • Having stomach cramps
  • Getting diarrhea or other digestion discomfort
  • Nausea or an upset stomach
  • Bouts of vomiting

Once heroin starts to leave your system, these symptoms should begin. Along with these, you will experience extreme cravings to use. Many people give in and use because they just can't handle heroin withdrawal. This can put their lives at risk even more.

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Are You at Risk for a Heroin Overdose?

You could be at risk for a heroin overdose if you try to stop using heroin on your own. This is because heroin relapse is just so common among people who attempt to quit cold turkey. It is possible to overdose on heroin without trying to quit using first. However, people who attempt to quit without professional support are the most common victims.

Anyone who has ever used heroin is at risk for a heroin overdose. Over the years, statistics tell us that the overdose rates have gotten out of control.

  • In 2015, there were 12,990 heroin overdoses in the U.S.
  • Heroin overdoses have gone up among women over the last several years.
  • In fact, from 2010 to 2013, heroin overdoses among women have tripled in number.
  • According to the CDC, overall heroin overdose deaths have more than quadrupled since 2010.
  • From 2014 to 2015, heroin overdose death rates increased by more than 20%.
  • The male overdose death rate increased by 22.2% from 2014 to 2015

It is possible to avoid a heroin overdose. To do so, you really only need to do two things.

The first is to stop using heroin, or never start using heroin. People who are regular heroin users can overdose if they misjudge the purity of the heroin they're using.

Secondly, if you do stop using heroin, only do so in an approved and accredited heroin treatment center. This will ensure that you get the type of treatment that will help you to avoid relapsing. Do not try to stop using heroin on your own. It is almost certain that you will relapse. If you relapse, you could accidentally overdose.

The Opioid Crisis in America

A Closer Look at Opioid Drugs and Addiction

Now that you've learned more details about heroin, it's important to learn about where it usually begins. This means taking a closer look at opioid drugs and opioid addiction.

The Opiate Epidemic in the U.S.

There is certainly an opioid epidemic in the United States. Opioid drugs are prescribed so freely by some doctors. Many will even recommend them for long-term use for those who have chronic pain. This is resulting in so many people forming addictions to these drugs.

Our country's opioid statistics tell the entire story. The ASAM states that:

  • In 2015, 2 million people in the United States had an opioid prescription drug addiction.
  • In 2015, there were more than 20,000 overdose deaths because of prescription opioids.
  • From 1999 to 2010, the sales of prescription opioid drugs increased four times.
  • During that same time period, the substance use disorder treatment rate for these drugs increased by six times.
  • 259 million prescriptions were written for opioid drugs in 2012.
  • This is more than enough to give each American adult their own bottle of pills.
  • In 2015, 276,000 teenagers admitted to being current nonmedical users of opiates.
  • Of that number, 122,000 of these teenagers admitted to having an opiate addiction.
  • Most teenagers who use opiate drugs obtain them for free from someone they know.
  • The prescribing rate for opioid drugs for teenagers nearly doubled from 1994 to 2007.
  • Women are much more likely to be prescribed opiate drugs at higher dosages.
  • Women are also much more likely to use these drugs for a longer period of time.
  • 48,000 women died from prescription opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2010.
  • This was an increase of more than 400%.

This information spells out bad news for the opioid prescription drug industry. Or, it should, anyway. Doctors are still prescribing these drugs an incredibly alarming rate. This means more addictions are being formed every single day.

When most people begin using opiates, they do so according to the directions on the bottle. They are very careful to follow the instructions that their doctor gave them. However, opioid abuse can occur, even when someone thinks they're being very careful to avoid it.

Some examples of opioid abuse include:

  • Taking opioid drugs to experience the euphoria they cause, and not for pain relief.
  • Borrowing or stealing opioid drugs from someone else.
  • Purchasing opiate drugs online, without a prescription.
  • Taking too high of a dose of opiate drugs at one time.
  • Taking doses of opiates too closely to one another.
  • Mixing opioid drugs with alcohol or other drugs to increase their effects.
  • Crushing opioid drugs to be injected
  • Chewing up pills to get them to absorb faster

Opioid abuse can also happen when people take these drugs for too long. Sometimes people think it's OK to increase how much they're taking at one time on their own. They assume that the drugs are safe because they came from a doctor. This fact alone makes opioid drugs some of the most dangerous drugs on the planet.

When someone is abusing opiate drugs, they aren't yet addicted. However, abusing them for too long can and does eventually lead to an addiction.

When you become addicted to opioid drugs, you begin feeling like you need them. You may immediately notice if you miss a dose of your medication. You may find that your normal dosage of the medication doesn't work as well for you anymore. These are two classic signs of opiate addiction.

Also, people with opiate addictions often will go through opioid withdrawal when they stop using. They may start to have cravings for opioid drugs that won't stop until they use.

At this point, it's safe to say that the individual has become addicted to opioids. When this is the case, it's not always easy to recognize the addiction. Most people continue to believe that they are in control of their opiate use. Once again, this is also known as being in denial.

Understanding Opioid Receptors and How They Effect Opiate Abuse and Addiction

The opioid system in the body is responsible for leading to opioid addiction. It is also used to control pain, and it is a reward center too. The opioid system is made up of what scientists refer to as opioid receptors.

Opioid receptors are located in the brain, and elsewhere in the body. The three primary types of opioid receptors are called mu, delta and kappa. Using opioid drugs activates and stimulates these receptors to produce the desired result. When someone is experiencing pain, the opioid drugs will block that sensation. When pain is absent, pleasure is sensed, primarily.

Over time, opioid receptors are stimulated enough that it becomes common. The brain and body acknowledge the drugs as a normal part of the opioid system. This is why opioid addicts can feel strange or odd when they don't take their opioid medication.

The question you may have is, how do you know if you are an opioid addict? It's not always easy to tell when someone has become addicted to opioid drugs. This is why some people can continue on in their addictions for so many years.

It's important to be able to tell the difference between painkiller abuse and painkiller addiction. You might be someone who is addicted without you knowing it. One way you can do this is by looking for some of the more common signs of opioid addiction. These signs might include:

  • Having strong urges or cravings to use opioid drugs
  • Not being able to control your desire to use opioids
  • Problems with reducing how often you use your opiate medications
  • Having problems meeting your work obligations
  • Becoming isolated from your friends and family
  • Spending a large amount of time trying to obtain opiates
  • Having legal problems that are related to your opiate use
  • Needing to use larger amounts of opioid drugs as time goes on
  • Experiencing opioid withdrawal symptoms when you stop using

Have you noticed any of these signs? Sometimes people don't notice all of them. It's normal to only notice a few on this list. If you can identify more than two, you probably do have an opioid addiction.

Other Ways to Identify If You're an Opioid Addict

There are a few other ways that you can tell if you are an opioid addict. The best way is for you to talk to someone in the addiction treatment field. You can explain your systems and tell that person your story. He or she should be able to tell you what you have, and what you need to do to stop using.

Or, if you're not ready to talk with a person yet about your addiction, you could take a quiz. This prescription drug addiction quiz is extremely thorough, and it may help you answer some questions. If you have an opioid addiction, this quiz should pinpoint it for you.

If you choose to take the quiz, you should prepare yourself for the results. You may find that you have an addiction that needs to be treated. If you do, it's really important for you to get immediate help.

If you find that you are suffering from an opioid addiction, your first inclination might be to panic. While there are some people who are abusing opioids knowingly, many don't realize what they're doing. They think that they're just taking their medications like they always do. For these individuals, finding out they have an addiction to opioids can come as quite a shock.

If this is where you find yourself, you shouldn't panic or become worried. You don't have a condition that is untreatable. You're also not destined to live in active opioid addiction for the rest of your life. No matter what, please don't throw away your opioid drugs and quit using them cold turkey. That can be devastating for your health and well-being.

The best thing to do is to talk with someone at a prescription drug rehab that specializes in opioid addiction. They will be able to talk with you about the steps you should be taking to recover.

Sometimes people ignore their opiate addictions. They think that they're in control even though all signs say otherwise. This is definitely not something you should do. There are consequences to ignoring an opioid addiction.

If you ignore your opioid addiction, it will progress. It is very likely that it may progress so much that you start experiencing a number of opioid effects. You may develop any of the following:

  • Chronic constipation
  • Chronic sedation
  • Bouts of dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • The risk of respiratory depression
  • Delayed gastric emptying
  • Hormonal dysfunction
  • Lowered immune system
  • Muscle rigidity

Many of these need to be treated medically. Unless you stop using opiates, they will only get worse.

Also, the longer you continue to abuse opiates, the more at risk you are for a heroin addiction. As we previously mentioned, many people gravitate toward heroin when they can't obtain their opioid drugs.

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What is Opioid Withdrawal?

Opioid withdrawal is something that occurs when you stop taking your opioid medications. These withdrawal symptoms can become severe very quickly. This is why you should never stop taking opiate medications abruptly. You may not be prepared for the withdrawal symptoms that you will experience if you do.

Some common opioid withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscle pain and weakness
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Excessive yawning
  • A high blood pressure
  • A rapid heart rate
  • Feelings of restlessness
  • Stomach cramps and diarrhea
  • Intense cravings for opioid drugs

These symptoms tend to peak within the first 3 to 5 days after they begin. After that, they should decrease in their severity. However, they can come back again. It's not uncommon for people to experience cravings for opioids months after they stopped them.

Opioid conversion charts are used by medical professionals to learn about opiate dosages. However, sometimes opioid addicts will use them as well. For example, someone who is addicted to Oxycodone might only be able to get Percocet. In order to find the right dosage, that person will use opioid conversion to figure it out.

Using an opioid conversion chart is something that should only be attempted by a professional. It's so easy to make a mistake and use the wrong amount. This can lead to an overdose.

If you attempt to stop using opioid drugs on your own, you are in danger of a relapse. If you go back to using, you are at risk of an opioid overdose.

Opioid overdoses occur because your body's tolerance levels drop. This means that you need less of the opioid drug than you once did to get the same effects. So many people overdose on opioid drugs every year. They do so simply because they fail to understand how tolerance works in the body.

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Opioid Rehab Can Help if You Have a Heroin Addiction or an Opiate Addiction

If are suffering from a heroin addiction, you need heroin rehab. This method of treatment will be so helpful for you. It will help to address your withdrawal symptoms, which is the physical part of your addiction. After that, you'll learn about the psychological part of your addiction. You'll find out how you can live your life without being dependent upon this dangerous drug.

Likewise, if you have an opioid addiction, you need opioid rehab. Even though these drugs are prescribed, they are anything but safe. Using them for too long, or in excess can be dangerous. Far too many people become addicted to opioid drugs. If you're one of these individuals, you need to know that you can get help to quit.

At Northpoint Recovery, we offer assistance to people in your situation. We understand that what you're going through is hard. We also know that it's difficult to admit that you need help. Once you contact us, we'll walk you through the different ways we can assist you.

Do you have an opioid addiction or a heroin addiction? Don't suffer by yourself, thinking that there's no way out. There is. Contact us to learn how.

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