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Heroin Abuse and Addiction

Heroin is a highly addictive drug this is processed from morphine, a substance extracted from the seed pod of certain species of poppy plants. Most heroin is a powdery substance that varies in color from white to a dark brown. The changes in color are due either to impurities left from the synthesising process or the presence of other additives. Although heroin in a more pure form is beginning to be seen more frequently, most street heroin is mixed with other drugs or substances such as sugar, strychnine, starch, and quinine or other poisons, which brings an added danger to the abuse of heroin. On the street heroin is also refered to as smack, H, skag, junk, and black tar.


Heroin Abuse

Heroin is used as a recreational drug for the intense euphoria it produces, which slowly disappears as the users tolerance increases. It is considered that heroin is a more popular recreational drug because of its distinct effect. Heroin can be taken in a variety of methods such as smoking, snorting, or injection. It can also be inhaled by producing vapors when it is heated. Injecting heroin is the most efficient way to administer lower grade versions of heroin.

The accessibility of higher grade forms of heroin and the fear of contracting an infection has made snorting and smoking more frequent. The short term effects of heroin will appear shortly after administration and will disappear usually after a few hours. Along with the initial euphoria of heroin use, the effects of heroin include; cotton mouth, heavy extremities, and a warm flushing of the skin. The users breathing could also be slowed down to the point where the respiratory system fails.

Heroin Detox Programs

AK - (907) 268-4185LA - (337) 214-0093OH - (513) 206-9650
AL - (251) 281-2090MA - (978) 384-1206OK - (918) 302-9514
AR - (479) 439-8040MD - (443) 569-6126OR - (541) 225-5071
AZ - (480) 478-0747ME - (207) 221-2169PA - (267) 415-1112
CA - (213) 493-6395MI - (616) 328-6370RI - (401) 256-5109
CO - (720) 239-1171MN - (507) 322-3471SC - (803) 720-5190
CT - (860) 946-8550MO - (573) 303-5876SD - (605) 385-0105
DC - (202) 509-9590MS - (601) 206-0830TN - (276) 644-2008
DE - (302) 294-0983MT - (406) 322-3268TX - (956) 284-0645
FL - (904) 245-1846NC - (919) 301-0174UT - (801) 528-6552
GA - (678) 466-7345ND - (701) 484-0368VA - (757) 273-8036
IA - (712) 266-3564NE - (402) 296-8256VT - (802) 277-3348
ID - (208) 228-5228NH - (603) 821-0294WA - (509) 728-9514
IL - (847) 386-8828NJ - (609) 385-0150WI - (414) 306-6351
IN - (317) 288-3747NM - (575) 541-3487WV - (304) 721-2107
KS - (620) 765-4575NV - (775) 473-9873WY - (307) 222-0333
KY - (270) 803-0017NY - (518) 203-2588  


Negative Effects of Long Term Heroin Abuse

The long term effects of heroin will become apparent after repeated use for a certain length of time. The medical ramifications of repeated heroin use are scarred or collapsed veins, bacterial infections, boils and other tissue infections, and liver or kidney diseases. Pulmonary issues could result from bad health conditions of the user along with heroin's depressing effects on the respiratory system. Users who inject heroin also put themselves at a high risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis C, and other infectious diseases. Approximately 70–80% of the hepatitis C infections in the United States every year are from the injection of drug.

Because heroin is a controlled substance and can be mixed with other ingredients before it reaches the user, those who use it do not know how potent the heroin they are using is until they actually use it. Since heroin might contain additives that do not easily dissolve, this may result in clogging the blood vessels that lead to the brain, lungs, kidneys, or liver.

The most detrimental health effect of heroin abuse is the risk of death caused by an unintentional overdose. This is a common risk because heroin abusers do not know the actual strength of the drug or its true contents. An overdose can be immediately reversed with an injection from an opioid antagonist. Most deaths accounted as overdoses are likely caused by interactions with other drugs such as benzodiazepines or alcohol.


Heroin Addiction

One of the most dangerous effects of heroin abuse is the highly addictive nature of the drug. After repeated use, heroin users will develop a tolerance requiring them to take larger amounts of the drug to have the same euphoria they achieved when they first begin to use it. After this happens, the user will have to take the drug just to feel normal. As larger amounts of heroin are taken, physical dependence and addiction will develop over time.

With physical addiction, the users body has become accustomed to the presence of heroin and withdrawal will likely occur if use becomes reduced or stopped altogether. Attempts to quit the use of heroin can fail because the symptoms of withdrawal can overwhelm the addict, which will cause them to take more of the drug in an attempt to overcome it.

The symptoms of withdrawal from heroin usually begin in the period of 6 to 24 hours of the discontinuation of the use of heroin. The user might suffer from symptoms such as intense erection in males, extra sensitivity of the genitals in females, the feeling of heaviness, pains in the limbs, lacrimation, sweating, malaise, anxiety, depression, insomnia, cold sweats, chills, nausea, diarrhea, goose bumps, cramps, and fever. Withdrawal from heroin is seldom fatal, unlike issues related to withdrawal from benzodiazepines, barbiturates and alcohol.


Heroin Treatment

There are many treatment options available for heroin addiction, such as medication and behavioral therapy. The most common treatment is the substitution of methadone or buprenorphine for heroin, which is later tapered off. Methadone is a synthetic opiate that blocks the effects of heroin and stops the user from suffering the symptoms of withdrawal. Buprenorphine is different from methadone in that it offers less risk of addiction and can be administered in a doctor's office. They have both been proven to be very successful for the treatment of heroin addiction. Other medications that are approved for heroin addiction are naloxone, which is used to remedy overdose, and naltrexone, which blocks the effects of heroin. Of course there are also many effective behavioral treatments options available for treating heroin addictions, which when combined with medications have shown a high degree of success.
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