Heroin addiction is something very serious that is needed to be coped with as long as it takes thousands of lives each year.
Heroin is known as one of the most addictive drug substances, for there is a big chance that people who regularly use it develop a tolerance. Developing a tolerance means that each time a person needs more frequent and higher doses of heroin to get the “right” or desired results.
What is Heroin?
Firstly, let’s learn what heroin is and how do people use this drug?
Heroin is a morphine made the opioid drug, which is a natural substance taken from the seed pod of the different kinds of opium poppy plants, which are grown in Southwest and Southeast Asia, Colombia, and as well as in Mexico.
Heroin can be a brown or white powder, and also a black sticky substance, which is known as black heroin. But there are also other common names, the users call, such as smack, hell dust, big H, and horse.
This drug can be injected into, sniffed, smoked, and also snorted by users. Some people often mix Heroin with crack cocaine, and this practice is called speedballing.
However, no matter how you take it, heroin gets to people's brains very quickly. As it is already said, It is also easy to get addicted. Even after you use it just one or two times, it can be hard to stop yourself from using it again.
Do you wonder why more people are using heroin?
The number of people in the United States who use heroin has risen steadily since 2007.
A big role-playing in this rise, is the growing abuse of prescription painkillers, including hydrocodone and oxycodone, which are made from the poppy plant too, and are chemically related to heroin.
People who have those drug misuse, highly possible will start seeking a cheaper and stronger high, and Heroin is both by the way, yet it is also one of the most dangerous substances ever because there is no way to know what you are taking or how strong it is.
The Effects of Heroin
In this section, we are going to speak about what are the effects of heroin.
Entering rapidly the brain, heroin binds to opioid receptors on cells located in many areas, especially the ones, which are involved in feeling pleasure and pain and in controlling heart rate, breathing, and also sleeping.
Right after you take heroin, you get a rush of good feelings and happiness. Then, for several hours, you feel as if the world has slowed down. You think slowly and may walk slowly. Some users say you feel like you are in a dream.
Heroin slows your heart rate and breathing and also blocks your body from getting pain messages. In case of overdose, you just stop breathing and die.
Many people start using heroin to deal with anxiety, worries, depression, and other stressors. One study found that 75% of users had mental health issues such as depression, ADHD, or bipolar disorder.
There are two types of effects after using Heroin: Short-term and long-term effects.
People who use heroin report feeling a "rush" (a surge of pleasure, or euphoria). However, there are other common effects, including:
- Dry mouth
- Warm flushing of the skin
- Heavy feeling in the arms and legs
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe itching
- Clouded mental functioning
- Going "on the nod," a back-and-forth state of being conscious and subconscious
People who use heroin over the long term may develop:
- Collapsed veins for people who inject the drug
- Damaged tissue inside the nose for people who sniff or snort it
- Infection of the heart lining and valves
- Abscesses (swollen tissue filled with pus)
- Constipation and stomach cramping
- Liver and kidney disease
- Lung complications, including pneumonia
- Mental disorders such as depression and antisocial personality disorder
- Sexual dysfunction for men
- Irregular menstrual cycles for women
Other Effects Caused by Heroin
Besides the above mentioned, there may also be some other potential effects, caused by heroin. This drug often contains additives, such as sugar, starch, or powdered milk, that can clog blood vessels leading to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain, causing permanent damage. Also, sharing drug injection equipment and having impaired judgment from drug use can increase the risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis (see "Injection Drug Use, HIV, and Hepatitis").
Overdose on Heroin
Can people overdose on heroin? Yes, it is not a secret. A heroin overdose occurs when a person uses enough of the drug to produce a life-threatening reaction or death.
Heroin overdoses have increased in recent years.
When people overdose on heroin, their breathing often slows or stops. This can decrease the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain, a condition called hypoxia. Hypoxia can have short- and long-term mental effects and effects on the nervous system, including coma and permanent brain damage.
Can a Heroin Overdose be Treated?
Naloxone is a medicine that can treat an opioid overdose when given right away. It works by rapidly binding to opioid receptors and blocking the effects of heroin and other opioid drugs. Sometimes more than one dose may be needed to help a person start breathing again, which is why it’s important to get the person to an emergency department or a doctor to receive additional support if needed. Read more in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit.
The rising number of opioid overdose deaths has led to an increase in public health efforts to make naloxone available to at-risk persons and their families, as well as first responders and others in the community. Some states have passed laws that allow pharmacists to dispense naloxone without a prescription from a person’s personal doctor.
Cope with Heroin Addiction with the Help of West Valley Detox
A range of treatments including medicines and behavioral therapies are effective in helping people stop heroin use. However, in the West Valley Detox clinic, we aim to match the best treatment approach to meet the particular needs of each individual patient.
There are medicines being developed to help with the withdrawal process. The FDA approved lofexidine, a non-opioid medicine designed to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Medicines to help people stop using heroin include buprenorphine and methadone. They work by binding to the same opioid receptors in the brain as heroin, but more weakly, reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Another treatment is naltrexone, which blocks opioid receptors and prevents opioid drugs from having an effect. A NIDA study found that once treatment is initiated, both a buprenorphine/naloxone combination and an extended-release naltrexone formulation are similarly effective in addiction. Because full detoxification is necessary for treatment with naloxone, initiating treatment among active users was difficult, but once detoxification was complete, both medications had similar effectiveness.
Behavioral therapies for heroin addiction include methods called cognitive-behavioral therapy and contingency management. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps modify the patient’s drug-use expectations and behaviors and helps effectively manage triggers and stress. Contingency management provides motivational incentives, such as vouchers or small cash rewards for positive behaviors such as staying drug-free. These behavioral treatment approaches are especially effective when used along with medicines.