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Heroin is so addictive that even one dose can push you to
addiction. Most of the people who are hooked to the drug start by experimenting
thinking that they will stop it. However, they soon find that it is nearly
impossible to quit the habit.
If you are a heroin addict, or you suspect that a loved
one might be, the chances are high that the first time you tried, you felt
repelled and nauseous. After some time, you give it another go, and the drug
starts clinging to your body in ways you never imagined possible.
Made from morphine, heroin ranks among the most addictive
of opioids. This natural substance is made from the seed pod of different opium
poppy plants, which are grown in Colombia and Mexico, as well as Southwest and
South East Asia.
In appearance, heroin can be a brown or white powder.
However, some varieties look like black and sticky (referred to as black tar
heroin). The drug is also referred to as smack, hell dust, horse, and big H.
As a fast-acting opiate, when heroin is injected, it will
cause an immediate surge of euphoria in a matter of seconds. However, if you
use the drug in any other way, the surge will take some time, and won't be
quite as sharp.
Minutes after you take heroin, your mouth will dry up,
and your skin will flush. Similarly, the drug will constrict your pupils, and
you will feel dopey and heavy. With time, you will start fading in and out of
consciousness. In some instances, users have been known to nod off after taking
The drug might also slow down your breathing, which is
how a heroin overdose causes death.
After you get up from the heroin rush, your thinking will
be blurry, and you might lose some of your memory. Further, the drug will
deplete your ability to control yourself and make coherent decisions.
As an illegal drug, heroin is extremely addictive. The
substance is created using opium from poppies before they get refined into
morphine. After that, the morphine will be processed chemically to create
In spite of the growing negative reputation on account of
the many risks it poses, heroin is still only of the most commonly abused of
all illegal drugs within the US, and beyond.
The addiction potential associated with this substance
means that the slope between abuse, use, and addiction can prove to be
slippery. As such, you might want to understand that before you shift from
dependence to addiction, there will be a period during which you will use the
Over time, your body will get used to the effects heroin
causes, which means that you will need even more of the opiate to achieve these
effects you desire. Soon after that, your dependence will hit a level where you
can only be described as a heroin addict.
As mentioned above, heroin is marketed and used in a
variety of forms - solid black chunks, black sticky substance, and brown or
white powder. These different types of heroin can be snorted, smoked, or
injected into the muscle, and the skin, or into the veins.
Irrespective of how you use it, the opiate will deliver
the potent effects it is known for quite fast. Since it is difficult to gauge
the strength of a street drug from one batch to the other, the risk of a heroin
overdose is always a possibility.
Most people use and abuse heroin to achieve the immediate
pleasure it elicits. These pleasurable feelings include, but are not limited
Every year, new users get hooked to heroin. Consider the
NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) statistics below concerning the
That said, most prescription medications - including
Vicodin and Oxycontin - create effects that are quite similar to heroin. Recent
research also suggests that the abuse of these drugs acts as a leeway to
eventual heroin abuse. It is not surprising, therefore, that close to 80% of
the heroin addicts in America (including those undergoing treatment) report to
starting out by misusing prescription opioids.
Although prescription opioid abuse is one of the factors
leading to heroin abuse, only a small percentage of those who misuse
prescription painkillers will switch to heroin. In fact, a recent survey showed
that less than 4% of the total numbers of people who abuse prescription
painkillers start abusing heroin in 5 years or less. This data suggests that
the abuse of prescription opiates is just one of the factors that might lead to
heroin use and abuse.
The three most likely outcomes arising from heroin use
include tolerance, dependence, and addiction. In several cases, tolerance is
typically marked by needing more of the drug, in a higher purity, or through
another method of delivery to achieve the same effect.
When you are dependent on heroin, your body will need
more of the drug to start feeling normal. If you don't get your hands on the
opiate, you will start suffering from the various withdrawal symptoms of the
Last but not least, once you become addicted to heroin,
you will increase the amount of energy and effort you typically used to getting
your hands on the drug and eventually using it. This will continue happening
even after you realize that the drug is causing inherent problems in your
The effects of heroin addiction will occur because after
you use the drug, its opiate molecules will interact with the opioid receptors
in the brain and body. These receptors play a crucial role in maintaining such
basic functions as breathing and blood pressure, as well as creating rewarding
feelings and modifying your pain.
Some of the negative social effects that heroin abuse has
been linked to include legal issues, financial issues, and losing your job. The
drug also causes many negative health consequences, including but not limited
The side effects arising from heroin addiction and abuse
will vary as the problem progresses. If you are dependent on another substance,
heroin will also profoundly aggravate the side effects you will feel.
After you take heroin, you will immediately experience a
rush followed by the drying up of your mouth, warm flushes on the skin, as well
as heavy limbs. Since this drug is illegal, it follows that there is no way to
calibrate the exact dosage the human body can handle. This will typically be
followed by severe itching, vomiting, and nausea.
Some of the physical side effects you will feel in the
short term include:
That said, heroin dependence and addiction also leads to
some serious medical side effects. These side effects might eventually,
directly or indirectly, cause death. They include:
If you are addicted to heroin, you will compulsively look
for and use the drug. This will be caused by the molecular and neurochemical
changes heroin creates inside the brain.
Due to the level of addictiveness, the American
government has classified this drug as a Schedule I narcotic, meaning that it
cannot be used legally. Understanding the addictive properties of the substance
will help you understand how to control and subjugate it.
Any heroin user can overdose on it. Overdose will usually
happen when the user takes so much of the drug that it creates a
life-threatening reaction, or leads to death. In recent years, these overdoses
have been on the rise.
When you overdose on this opiate, your breathing will
either stop or slow down. This will reduce the volume of oxygen flowing to the
brain (a condition that is medically referred to as hypoxia).
Hypoxia comes with both long and short term effects on
the brain and affects the nervous system. For instance, it can permanently
damage your brain and cause you to sink into a coma.
The levels of toxicity will depend on how pure the drug
was, as well as any other pre-existing addictions.
Some of the signs of an overdose include:
If you feel yourself reacting to heroin, or you know
someone who has, seek immediate medicate attention.
Trying to quit heroin will create such painful withdrawal
symptoms that most users have no option but to continue using. However, you
should keep in mind that heroin addicts have a higher likelihood (6 to 20
times) of dying in comparison to people who do not use it.
That said, most users stick to the drug because they
enjoy the pain relief it provides, as well as because they are afraid of
suffering from the withdrawal symptoms associated with this opiate.
These symptoms will appear a couple of hours after you
stop using the drug, and will include:
If you experience any or all of the above withdrawal
symptoms after long term dependence on the drug, you will also be at risk of
contracting serious complication or even dying. This is especially so if you
also suffering from other existing medical conditions and addictions.
Most heroin addicts are oblivious to the dangers the drug
possess on their lives and general well-being. For instance, you never know
what the dose you bought was mixed with, or if it will lead to an overdose or
Recent studies affirm that after five years of continued
use, the average user has a 90% risk of contracting hepatitis C. If you take
the drug intravenously, you also carry a high risk of contracting and
transmitting HIV (and a variety of other diseases) after sharing needles.
Some of the signs and symptoms of heroin abuse include:
Anyone seeking treatment for heroin addiction, as well as
their families and loved ones, should understand that the typical withdrawal
symptoms are not deadly. However, they can prove to be extremely uncomfortable
As such, most addicts will have a hard time trying to
quit - which is why they will soon go back to the drug to escape the pain and
suffering caused by the sudden withdrawal.
The best solution to heroin addiction, therefore, lies in
a wholesome treatment of the condition as supervised by a qualified medical
team and conducted in the right facilities, and programs.
In most cases, you will start with detox treatment before
you transition to a more comprehensive rehab program to continue your recovery.
After that, you will receive community support, outpatient services, and drug,
alcohol, and mental health counseling until you recover fully and get back to
normal, everyday society.
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