According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, heroin is an opioid drug that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder or as a black sticky substance, known as “black tar heroin.” Heroin can be sniffed, smoked or injected.
Today’s Heroin Epidemic
It is believed that the country is currently in the midst of a heroin epidemic and the 2016 Presidential candidates have made drug addiction a primary focus in their debate. People who have previously been addicted to prescription opioids, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, are turning to heroin as a cheaper alternative.
The CDC reported in 2015 that heroin use has increased across the US among men and women, most age groups, and all income levels. Some of the greatest increases were reportedly seen across demographic groups with historically low rates of heroin use, including women, the privately insured, and people with higher incomes. With the increase in reported heroin use, heroin deaths have also seen an increase. The CDC states that between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled, and more than 8,200 people died in 2013.
Signs of Heroin Use
Heroin is considered to be a fast-acting opiate, meaning when injected, there is an immediate surge of euphoria. Those using the drug will experience constricted pupils, a dopey or heavy feeling and may fade in and out of wakefulness.
Some symptoms of heroin abuse include:
- Small pupils
- Slurred speech
- Nausea/ vomiting
- Shallow breathing or slowed breathing
- Increased pain tolerance
- Flushed skin or itching
Additional symptoms of heroin use include nausea, vomiting, or itching. A lowered immune system and contemplation are additional symptoms associated with opioid abuse.
A person using heroin may leave items such as metal pipes, syringes, belts or rubber tubing after use.
Health Risks Associated with Heroin Use
drugabuse.org stated that heroin overdoses frequently involve a suppression of breathing, affecting the amount of oxygen that reached the brain, called hypoxia. Hypoxia can have short- and long-term psychological and neurological effects, including coma and permanent brain damage.
Long-term effects of heroin use include tolerance, which means that more of he drug is needed to achieve the same intensity of effect with each use. Those injecting heroin are at a higher risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis C, which are both contracted with blood of other bodily fluids when needles are shared.
Treatment for Heroin Addiction
Heroin addiction treatment includes medications to manage withdrawal symptoms and behavioral therapies.
Intensive outpatient treatment for heroin addiction can help those who have already undergone detox for heroin addiction. An outpatient substance abuse treatment center provides additional treatment and support while the patient is still able to attend work or school. If you would like additional information about the IOP program in West Palm Beach at A New Start, Inc., please contact us today at 1-844-TALK-ANS.