Heroin is a highly addictive drug, and its use is a serious problem in the United States. Recent studies suggest a shift from injecting heroin to snorting or smoking because of increased purity and the misconception that these forms of use will not lead to additiction.
Heroin is a fast-acting opiate derived from the substance morphine found in specific types of poppy plants. This drug can be found in fairly pure forms; however, most heroin is mixed with other substances, including sugar, powdered mild and starch.
Because heroin is most often injected intravenously, users run the risk of contracting HIV and other diseases transmitted via dirty needles and blood.
Heroin is particularly addictive because it reaches the brain and creates a euphoric reaction rapidly. Overall, opiates block pain messages; create a false sense of calmness by depressing body functions and increase feeling of pleasure in the body and brain.
Once the body and mind are addicted to heroin, the brain's chemistry is most likely changed permanently. Heroin addiction is characterized by an increase in tolerance, meaning a person must use more of the drug to get the same effect; hence, a physical dependence on the drug.
Heroin abuse is associated with serious health conditions, including fatal overdose, spontaneous abortion, collapsed veins and infectious diseases.
In addition to the effects of heroin itself, street heroin may have additives that do not readily digest and result in clogging blood vessels that may lead to the lungs, liver, kidneys or brain.
Heroin addiction makes it virtually impossible for a person to do anything else in life except look for heroin and get "high". Because heroin has such powerful effects on a person's body, many people addicted to heroin will not try to stop because of the symptoms of withdrawal.
If you or a loved one need help, please contact us immediately at (800) 461-0641.
Withdrawal symptoms include:
- Hot and cold flashes
- Physical pain
- Involuntary body movements
Heroin addiction is deadly and once a user is addicted, many of the following long-term effects are possible:
- Bacterial infections
- Collapsed veins
- Infectious diseases
- Infections of the heart
- Joint and muscular problems