Heroin is a highly addictive drug that is derived from a substance extracted from the seed pod of certain poppy plants, also known as morphine. Among all the opiates, heroin is the most abused and the most rapidly acting of the opiates. In pure form, heroin is a white powder that has a bitter taste. On the street, it is usually cut with other substances, such as sugar, starch, powdered milk, or quinine. It may even be cut with strychnine or other poisons. Heroin users are at risk of overdosing because they cannot detect the strength of the heroin sold on the street. There are many street names for the drug: smack, boy, H, junk, Black tar, brown sugar, horse, and mud.
Methods of Use
There are various methods of use of the drug, heroin. One can liquefy it using water and inject it. Purer forms of heroin can be smoked or snorted. The onset of the “rush” or high from injection is very quick and intense. Smoking or snorting, though not as intense, seems to last longer. All methods of use have been found to be highly addictive.
Effects of Heroin
The short term effects of heroin act very quickly and last only a few hours. Depending on the method that it is used, the effects are a bit different. If injected, the onset of the euphoria is almost immediate and soon followed by a warm flush of the skin, dry mouth, and very heavy extremities. After the initial rush, the user may “nod” or have drowsy, then wakeful periods. Thinking becomes clouded because of the depression to the central nervous system. Other effects may include constricted pupils, respiratory depression and nausea. Indicators or heroin overdose are shallow and slow breathing, convulsions, clammy skin, and possibly even death.
Health Hazards From Heroin Use
Obviously, there are certain health hazards associated with heroin use. Here are a few that often accompany heroin abuse and they are as follows:
• Fatal overdose
• Collapsed veins
• Infection of the heart lining and valves
• Spontaneous abortion
Over time with heroin use, the user develops a tolerance to the drug. It then becomes necessary for the user to take more to achieve the same effect. Their body becomes dependent on heroin and if they don’t use, they become physically ill. The user’s body has become physically dependent on the drug and without it, the user will experience withdrawal symptoms. The user has, at this point, developed an addiction.
There are a variety of methods of treatment for heroin addiction. Drug substitution is among the most popular methods. This is when methadone, a synthetic opiate, or suboxone is given to the user as an opiate blocker. This method is intended to free the individual from the use of heroin but, as a result, they rapidly become dependent on the substitution drug. The withdrawal symptoms from the substitution drug are usually much more severe and extended than that of heroin. Heroin is very seldom a life threatening Detox process and can also be successful with the aid of vitamins, light body massages, and extraversion exercises. This method is not widely known but rapidly growing as the favored solution to an age old problem. This holistic approach is not only healthier for the individual; it does not involve the aid of any additional medications.
Not surprisingly, only a decade ago, users consumed less heroin than those of today due to the purity of the drug at street level today. Here are a few facts regarding heroin and it’s use according to the National Household Survey on
• In 1999, there were an estimated 149,000 new heroin users
• 80% of these new users were under the age of 26
• In the last decade, the number of heroin users has increased about 75%, from 68,000 in 1993 to 208,000 in 1999
• The number of life-time users increased significantly among 16 – 17 year olds recently, from 1.2% to 1.5%
Heroin is a highly addictive drug that is widely abused across the globe. It is an opiate drug that is derived from morphine, a naturally occurring substance. Morphine is extracted from the seed of the poppy plant. Heroin can be snorted, smoked, inhaled, ingested or injected. It is among, if not the most widely abused drug on the streets today.
Users find themselves physically dependent on the drug and experience severe withdrawal symptoms without heroin in their systems. Many forms of treatment are available to those seeking help, but the preferred method is drug substitution, which is also highly addictive. The solution to this age old problem is drug education, and finding a holistic approach to heroin withdrawal, not drug substitution.
National Institute on Drug Abuse
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