There are many types of addictive substances, some of which have devastating health risks. Help can be just a call away. If you or someone you know is in immediate need consider reaching out
Heroin is classified as a schedule I controlled substance by the DEA, which means it’s a very dangerous drug and is highly addictive. Due to worldwide demand, heroin continues to be a costly problem everywhere. Both physical and psychological addiction happens very quickly and often to an extreme degree.
What is Heroin?
Morphine and opium are derived from poppy plants. Heroin is an illegal opioid that is a derivative of morphine. It has been used for over a century and delivers an intense, euphoric high. Heroin falls under several street names – China white, horse, smack, Mexican brown and black tar heroin.
Heroin is taken in a number of ways, including snorting, smoking and injecting into veins. No matter how it is administered, the addiction is highly dangerous and can quickly lead to overdose and death.
Opiates run through the system in less than an hour, but some by-products of opium can linger for as long as three days, dependent in part on how the drug is used. The risk of heroin overdose has led to an alarming number of negative health effects, addiction and in many cases death. When Fentanyl, which is a potent painkiller and opiate, is combined with heroin it can increase the chances of an overdose which often leads to death. Heroin dealers sometimes lace the drug with different substances to increase its effect, however this can significantly intensify the danger of an overdose.
When Was Heroin Invented?
The history of Heroin goes back to ancient Mesopotamia, where opium was first cultivated. In the early 19th century, morphine and codeine were chemically isolated from opium, which eventually led to further experimentation and the creation of heroin as an alternative to morphine.
Heroin become commercially available in 1898. However, it quickly became apparent that heroin was dangerously addictive and it was banned. Use didn’t stop and heroin addiction has continued to spread.
Why Do People Use Heroin?
Opiates have been destroying lives for hundreds of years, yet many people still use the drug because of the high it produces. What does a high feel like? The rush of an opiate high and the euphoria that follows draws people in because of its powerful effect. Users report feelings of happiness, peace and relaxation; time seems to slow down and they feel as if they are entering a dream. These are common side effects of opiates prescribed for pain relief and sedation. While alluring, these feelings quickly turn into the nagging hunger of addiction. The drug creates feelings of extreme withdrawal, which draws them back into using the drug again and again.
Those at risk of developing an addiction to heroin are:
- Users of prescription pain pills who are looking for a cheaper and often stronger high
- Those who have a family history of addiction.
- People suffering from depression, anxiety and other mental health issues
- People with friends or family who are addicts and those exposed to high risk environments.
- Those with personality types which are impulsive or risk-taking
- Users who smoke or inject the drug as these types of administration allow the substance to quickly reach the brain.
What Makes it So Addictive?
Opiates can cause people to become addicted in as little as one or two uses. The development of the addiction is often related to how much of the substance is taken, the method of consumption and the sensitivity of the user. In the body, heroin quickly turns into morphine which then attaches itself to opiate receptors in the brain. It also causes a release of a large amount of dopamine, a neurotransmitter which makes a person feel good. The brain will then remember that taking this substance produces good feelings and will inevitably crave more.
How Addictive is Heroin?
Heroin is very addictive because of the intense high or euphoria that it creates. The substance is more powerful than morphine and can quickly become addictive because of its instantaneous effect. When a user takes a hit, they get an immediate rush of euphoria. The more often they take it, the more euphoria they experience. Addiction builds tolerance, which means the addict needs more and more to get their high. It is a very negative downward spiral into ever deeper addiction. Sadly, those who are pregnant who use opiates can have a child that’s born addicted to heroin.
Heroin Use: The Impact on Society
Opiate overdose deaths are on the rise. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2016, nearly 950,000 Americans used some type of heroin.
The consequences of opiate use and subsequent addiction causes problems beyond the single addict. The heroin epidemic costs more than $50 billion per year.
Our society has felt some of these effects due to this epidemic.
- Due to sharing needles, the spread of hepatitis and HIV/AIDS among intravenous users
- Negative effects on fetus and newborn children due to use while pregnant.
- Increased crime control and incarceration costs to the law enforcement system
- Divorce, domestic abuse, child abuse, neglect and other family disruptions
- People dropping out of school, job loss, decreased work productivity and other socioeconomic effects.
- Significant impact on treatment cost at emergency rooms, rehab clinics and other healthcare systems
- Negative impact on abuse shelters, social welfare and other social services.
Are you aware of the signs of heroin addiction? Addiction is not itself a death sentence. There are many way to get help for addiction. Medication is available to help treat the addiction and make withdrawal easier. Behavioral therapies are in place to build a health system of support and accountability. The important thing is to get professional help to make sure the addict gets the exact help they need.
Recovery from addiction is not a one-time process. It’s a lifelong journey for the addict and their loved ones. By knowing and understanding some of the obstacles that are most commonly faced throughout the journey, the support system the recovering addict has built can assist them in living a sober, cleaner life.
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