Heroin is a drug made from morphine that is extracted from the opium poppy. It is smoked, snorted, but most addicts inject it directly into their veins. It does not matter how the drug gets into the system, it reaches the brain very fast, making it highly addictive. Injecting it into the blood stream is the most dangerous way to use it since one can easily overdose or get infections from using dirty needles. Heroin addicts come from all ages and social, economic lines.
Heroin and Prescription Painkillers
Many of the addicts initially get hooked on the prescription painkillers first. They later move to heroin since it is more potent and often easier to purchase. The law regarding prescription of the commonly abused opiates has been toughened requiring patients to see pain management specialties. The tightening of the law has decreased the number of people who would abuse prescription opiates and has increased the demand for heroin.
What It Does in the Body
Heroin gives the user a feeling of warmth, euphoria and well-being. If taken in larger doses, makes the user sleepy and very relaxed. It slows down the way the body works. A first time user will experience dizziness and vomiting. The effects will last for a number of hours. After injection the users report feeling a surge or euphoria that is accompanied by dry mouth.
Effects of Dependence & Addiction
The side effects of heroin abuse and addiction vary as the disease progresses. Some of the short-term physical side effects include;
- Depressed respiration/ shallow breathing
- Clouded mental functioning
- Uncontrolled feeling of itching that results in compulsive scratching
Heroin dependence produces serious medical side effects that may directly or indirectly result in death. Some of the medical side effects include;
- Bacterial infections
- Liver disease
- Blood clots or tissue death resulting from collapsed veins
- Chronic pneumonia
- Heart problems, including infection of the heart lining and valves
- Infectious diseases spread from sharing needles
Heroin addicts rarely know the strength of the heroin they purchased on the street. Street heroin is rarely pure. Because of this, chances of overdose are very high. Injection usually poses the greatest risk of administering a lethal dosage by allowing large amounts of heroin and additional contaminants into the bloodstream all at once.
The symptoms of an overdose include;
- Slow and shallow breathing
- Coma and death
Chances of surviving an overdose depend greatly on how quickly one gets medical assistance. Many studies have shown that most of the deaths occur 1 to 3 hours after the victim injected the drugs.
Giving it up after using it for a long time is challenging since the body takes time getting used to functioning without it. The user will start experiencing the effects 6 to 24 hours after their last dose. The symptoms will last for about a week. Day 1 to 3 is usually the worst. Some of the symptoms include;
- Restlessness and irritability
- Depression and crying
- Stomach and leg cramps
- Runny nose
- Restless sleep and yawning
- It is illegal to have for oneself, give it away or sell. Possession and supply is illegal and can land a person in jail for 7 years. Just like driving when drunk, driving while high is illegal and it can get one a heavy fine. Allowing people to supply drugs in your home is illegal.
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