25 Facts to Know About Heroin Addiction
The numbers are rising and the country seems shocked now that the mainstream media have put the heroin epidemic front and center (even a Super Bowl ad). Here is a list of somethings you may know and somethings you may not know. Either way, get in the know!
1) 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.
2) Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder or as a black sticky substance, known as “black tar heroin.”
3) Nearly half of young people who inject heroin surveyed in three recent studies reported abusing prescription opioids before starting to use heroin. Some individuals reported taking up heroin because it is cheaper and easier to obtain than prescription opioids.
4) A range of treatments including behavioral therapies and medications are effective at helping patients stop using heroin and return to stable and productive lives.
5) Although heroin use in the general population is rather low, the numbers of people starting to use heroin have been steadily rising since 2007.
6) Medications are available to treat heroin addiction while reducing drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms, improving the odds of achieving abstinence.
7) Nearly half of young people who inject heroin surveyed in three recent studies reported abusing prescription opioids before starting to use heroin. Some individuals reported switching to heroin because it is cheaper and easier to obtain than prescription opioids.
8) The slang terms for heroin are Smack, Horse, Mud, Brown Sugar, Junk, Black Tar, Big H, Dope and Skag.
9) Heroin enters the brain quickly. It slows down the way you think, slows down reaction time, and slows down memory. This affects the way you act and make decisions.
10) Heroin poses special problems for those who inject it because of the risks of HIV, hepatitis B and C, and other diseases that can occur from sharing needles.
11) Heroin is highly addictive because it enters the brain so rapidly. It particularly affects those regions of the brain responsible for producing physical dependence.
12) Heroin is one of the most frequently reported drugs by medical examiners in drug abuse deaths.
13) The signs of a heroin overdose include: shallow breathing, pinpoint pupils, clammy skin, convulsions and coma.
14) Because the strength of heroin varies and its impact is so unpredictable when used with alcohol or other drugs, the user never knows what might happen with the next dose.
15) Heroin is a highly addictive drug derived from morphine, which is obtained from opium poppy plants. It is a “downer” or depressant that affects the brain’s pleasure systems and interferes with the brain’s ability to perceive pain.
16) The short-term effects of heroin abuse appear soon after a single dose and disappear in a few hours. After an injection of heroin, the user reports feeling a surge of euphoria (“rush”) accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth, and heavy extremities.
17) Long-term effects of heroin appear after repeated use for some period of time. Chronic users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, and liver disease.
18) As higher doses are used over time, physical dependence and addiction develop. With physical dependence, the body has adapted to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms may occur if use is reduced or stopped.
19) Withdrawal, which in regular abusers may occur as early as a few hours after the last administration, produces drug craving, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps (“cold turkey”), kicking movements (“kicking the habit”) and other symptoms.
20) Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 24 and 48 hours after the last dose and subside after about a week.
21) The signs and symptoms of use are tiredness (aka “nodding off), pinpoint pupils, nausea, sores/marks on arms or other parts of the body, missing spoons/pens/money, a sudden change in appearance and/or attitude, unexplained absences.
22) The short-term effects are constipation, vomiting, clouded thinking, slowed speech, slowed movement, slowed breathing, slowed heart rate and euphoria.
23) The long-term effects are addiction, infections (HepatitisC or HIV/AIDS), blood clots, collapsed veins, decreased sexual desire and menstrual cycle problems.
24) Heroin is used by injecting, snorting, smoking or swallowing.
25) Heroin is considered to be one of the most highly addictive substances known to man. It may cause immediate changes in the brain which could lead to the brain disease of addiction.