In 2009, more than 600,000 people over the age of 12 had tried heroin in the U.S. according to statistics released by SAMHSA. Moreover, NIDA estimates that at least 9 million individuals struggle with addiction to the drug.
Tragically, half the drug overdoses in this country are related to heroin abuse. While some organizations try to discount the idea that the U.S. is in the midst of a heroin epidemic, there has been a resurgence of the drug in recent years.
Dangerous and Lethal
Heroin is a potent illicit narcotic that is developed from opium. It is generally a yellowish or white colored powder that is sniffed, snorted or injected when it is heated to liquid. The appeal of the drug is largely due to the fact that it is easily obtainable and relatively cheap.
However, it is often cut or mixed with some dangerous chemicals including strychnine or rat poison, cleaning products, antihistamines and other drugs such as Fentanyl. In recent news, a “bad batch” of heroin claimed the lives of at least 24 people in several states and was linked to the death of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
Toxic to the Body
Heroin works similar to other opiates which block the receptors in the central nervous system and brain that distinguish between pain and pleasure. As the drug is introduced into the body it is quickly changed to dopamine which causes a euphoric feeling. Nodding off, impaired judgment/perceptions and a flush appearance to the skin are common effects of the drug.
Negative consequences (including death) can be experienced from using the drug once. Chronic abuse can result in the following:
- Collapsed veins
- Liver/kidney disease/failure
- Breathing problems
- Heart infection/disease
- Hepatitis, HIV and Aids
- Recognizing Addiction
Heroin addiction is difficult to conceal and in most cases is recognizable. Obvious signs are needle marks and scars at injection sites. There may be infections from repeated injections. There may be other indications including:
- Dry mouth
- Heavy/restless arms/legs
- Personality changes
- Quitting Safely
Depending on the severity of abuse, withdrawal symptoms can begin as soon as a few hours after the last time the drug was used. Withdrawal symptoms can be very painful and may include the following:
- Abdominal cramps
- Muscle/bone pain
Compared to the increasing number of people using heroin, only a very small percentage – less than 15 percent – will get help for their abuse/addiction. Most doctors advise trying to quit “cold turkey” but recommend that getting help from a medical detox facility and rehab treatment program is the best solution.
If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse and ready to get your life back, The Haven Detox can help. Our medical detox is the safest and most comfortable method for detoxing from alcohol and drugs. We will also help you plan for your continued recovery whether entering a rehab facility, a 12-step program, a non-12 step program or additional counseling. Call The Haven Detox today at (561) 328-8627 to see if our specialized detox treatment is right for you.