Heroin Addiction Hotline

Authored by National Rehab Hotline    Reviewed by Robert Gerchalk    Last Updated: September 8th, 2021

Robert Gerchalk Medical Reviewer
Robert is our health care professional reviewer of this website. He worked for many years in mental health and substance abuse facilities in Florida, as well as in home health (medical and psychiatric), and took care of people with medical and addictions problems at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He has a nursing and business/technology degrees from The Johns Hopkins University.

Addictions of all types wreak emotional and financial havoc on American families each year. In 2019, nearly 15,000 people died in the United States from a heroin overdose. This represents almost five deaths per every 100,000 Americans. When you take 15,000 people and multiply that number by their family and friends, you realize that hundreds of thousands of Americans are affected by heroin overdoses every year.

The National Rehab Hotline at 866-210-1303 can be the first line of defense. Empathetic and knowledgeable staff are on standby 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer all of your questions and concerns regarding heroin addiction. Hotline operators can look up local resources for you and point you in the right direction so you can get the help you need. You can also call if you have questions or concerns for a loved one.

What Is a Heroin Addiction Hotline?

You may have heard of other types of hotlines, such as a suicide prevention hotline. These are toll-free phone numbers that are normally available any hour of the day for people to call with questions or concerns. The operators who answer the telephone have access to a wide variety of knowledge and resources to help with the specific addiction or health concern that the hotline is designated for. The National Rehab Hotline at 866-210-1303 can answer any questions you have regarding heroin use and heroin addiction.

Who Should Call a Heroin Addiction Hotline?

A hotline is open to anyone who has questions or concerns about heroin and heroin addiction. Heroin users who are worried about their own use of heroin or who are afraid that they are addicted may call the hotline with questions. A concerned loved one may also call with any questions that he or she may have about ways to aid a family member. Friends call hotlines sometimes, too, to receive advice about how to help a friend who is struggling with heroin.

What Are the Symptoms of a Heroin Overdose?

If you or a loved one has symptoms of a heroin overdose, you need to call 911 and not a hotline. Sometimes a caller may be wondering if his or her loved one has overdosed, and that is why he or she is calling. However, if your loved one is not responding to you or if he or she has lost consciousness, call 911 immediately.

Signs of a heroin overdose include:

• Shallow breathing or struggling to breathe
• Person was nodding out, but now you can wake him or her up
• Weak/thready pulse
• Fatigue
• Low blood pressure
• Acting delirious or not oriented to time and place
• Skin and lips turning blue
• Muscle spasms

When you call a hotline with questions about an overdose, the operator can help you realize whether it is an overdose or not and what the next steps should be.

Are Calls to a Hotline Confidential?

Every call to a heroin addiction hotline is 100% confidential. The operators will not record or share the information you tell them at any time without your permission.* Any identifying information you give to the operator will only be used to formulate a plan for you or the loved one you are calling for. Some personal details, including health history, may be necessary for the operator to point you in the correct direction.

*People taking calls do have to try to get immediate help if there is immediate danger of harm to self (suicide) or others, or a vulnerable person, such as a child, is in immediate danger.

Can You Call a Hotline for Someone Else?

While there are no specific numbers available, many callers to hotlines are not users themselves. Many times, friends or family members of a drug user become concerned about a loved one’s behavior and suspect he or she is using drugs. This worried individual may not be ready to confront the loved one with his or her suspicions. Instead, the friend or family member calls the hotline to receive guidance on how to help. The operators can educate the person about the signs of drug use and addiction. To receive a true diagnosis, however, the substance user must see a health professional.

Symptoms of a Heroin Addiction

Heroin is a highly addictive drug. If you are using heroin, it is very likely that you are addicted. Signs that someone you know may be addicted to heroin include:

• Tiny (pinpoint) pupils (this happens while using)
• Large (dilated) pupils (this happens when experiencing withdrawals)
• Scabs from picking at their skin
• Sudden or unexpected weight loss
• Dark circles under eyes
• Puffy eyes
• Droopy facial expressions
• Heavy eyelids
• Hacking cough (if the drug is smoked)
• Burn marks on fingers and mouth (if the drug is smoked)
• Track marks on arms (if the drug is injected)
• Changes in appetite
• Isolating away from friends and family
• Withdrawing from loved ones
• Poor personal hygiene
• Increased financial problems, including debt
• Being unable to maintain life’s responsibilities and obligations
• Finding various drug paraphernalia such as baggies, aluminum foil, and needles

If you fear that you or a loved one has become addicted to heroin, you can call The National Rehab Hotline at 866-210-1303 today. Our operators will answer all of the questions you have regarding heroin addiction and treatment.

How Long Does a High Last?

One of the reasons heroin is so addictive is that the high lasts only one to three hours. The exact time that a high will last is based on several biological factors, including a person’s weight and how quickly substances move through his or her body.

When the high has disappeared, a heroin addict may feel normal for a few hours. Then he or she will begin to have withdrawal symptoms if he or she can’t find another fix. Some drugs last in your system longer than heroin, and some effects continue longer than others. The length of time the high lasts and how intense the high is determines how often and how much a user will need the drug. Withdrawal symptoms are intense, so the user wants another fix to take away those symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms include both early and late indicators. Early symptoms are:

• Runny nose
• Sweating
• Yawning
• Agitation/anxiety
• Muscle aches
• Teary eyes
• Insomnia

Late symptoms are:

• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Abdominal cramping
• Diarrhea
• Dilated pupils
• Goosebumps

The late symptoms of withdrawal from heroin are so intense that the user wants to quickly find another fix to be released from those symptoms. In a treatment center, these symptoms are treated with medication to help the addict get through the withdrawal.

Sometimes dealers mix their heroin with other drugs to make their total costs lower and to spread distribution. Fentanyl is a common drug that is added to heroin. If a user doesn’t know that fentanyl has been added to the heroin, he or she could more easily overdose. Mixing fentanyl with heroin can also cause a dependency on fentanyl in the user, so he or she is then addicted to two different drugs. Furthermore, fentanyl is much stronger than heroin, and there is a great danger that the person could die from respiratory depression, where the breathing is slowed and eventually stopped by the drug.

The Long-Term Effects of Heroin Use

Heroin has many short-term effects on a person, but it is the long-term effects that can be really damaging. Long-term use of heroin can cause:

• Endocarditis (infection in the heart’s lining, caused by contaminated street drugs or dirty needles)
• Lung infections, including pneumonia
• Viral illnesses such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C
• Liver disease
• Kidney disease
• Arthritis
• Abscesses in the skin

In addition to physical problems, long-term use of heroin can cause many relationship problems. It can also lead to various legal and financial issues for the addict. Legal issues arise from the fact that heroin is illegal to make, use, possess, or sell. While on a high, addicts may do things they wouldn’t normally do and may face legal consequences as a result. In addition, the craving for a high is so intense that it can lead the addict to steal money or other goods from people to pay for more heroin.

One gram of heroin costs, on average, around $150. The amount that each addict needs to achieve a high can vary, and it normally increases with usage. As mentioned, a heroin high lasts for one to three hours. You can see how the cost of a heroin addiction adds up quickly. This is the financial burden for an individual, but there is a societal cost as well. Billions of dollars are spent each year on heroin use. This includes the costs of health care for these individuals, lost job productivity, treatment for the addiction, and the cost of criminal justice.

What Is a Dual Diagnosis?

Addicts of any type may also suffer from a mental illness. This is then known as a dual diagnosis. Health professionals feel that there are three possibilities to explain why these conditions often occur together:

• Common risk factors, such as genetics, contribute to both substance use and mental illness.
• Having a mental disorder can push a person towards drug use as a way to feel better.
• Substance use disorders can change the brain and can cause a mental illness.

It is difficult to determine whether the substance use is a result of the mental illness or if the mental illness is the result of the substance use, but it is clear that many addicts also suffer from a mental illness. When this is the case, then both illnesses must be treated together for the treatment to be a success. If you think you have a dual diagnosis, make sure to tell the hotline staff this so that he or she can steer you in the right direction for treatment options. If you’re not sure, the person taking your call may be able to help you see whether you are suffering from both disorders. One issue for patients with a dual diagnosis is that the treatment facility will have to figure out which is the most severe problem today–drugs or a mental health crisis.

Is a Hotline the Beginning of Treatment?

The National Rehab Hotline is not affiliated with any specific treatment program or facility. However, we will direct you to resources that are local to you to assist with treatment. Calling a hotline is not part of treatment for an addiction, but it can be the first step. An addict who calls the hotline has shown that he or she is concerned about where the addiction is going. Loved ones who call the hotline are showing that they are ready and able to support their loved ones when they are ready for treatment.

Do You Have to Begin Treatment Right Away If You Call a Hotline?

A heroin addiction hotline is a free service that does not make any demands or requirements on you. It exists to answer questions about substance use disorder and treatment but is not a treatment in itself. You are under no obligation to begin or continue treatment by calling the hotline. Calling it is free, and you will not be asked for insurance information or payment of any kind. If you wish to begin treatment based on the answers to your questions, then the hotline staff will refer you to a local treatment center. People who call in because of concern for someone else will also be directed to where they can find more information.

If you or someone you know is suffering from heroin use or addiction, give The National Rehab Hotline a call today at 866-210-1303. We are ready and able to assist you in any way we can.

The National Rehab Hotline is free and available 24/7/365 to help anyone struggling through a substance use or mental health crisis get immediate help.


Our crisis hotline specialists can provide resourceful information about alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental health, and what the next steps for yourself or your loved one might be. This may include treatment suggestions, immediate crisis support & intervention, or we can guide you towards local resources