Heroin Addiction and Heroin Addiction Treatment
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Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction is a serious life threatening dilemma. It can occur very quickly among abusers who use heroin on a regular basis. This is due to the fact that tolerance develops upon repeated use of the drug. Users suddenly find that they are using more and more heroin to achieve the same high that they originally felt. The addictive nature of heroin is characterized by the tolerance a user builds to the drug as well as constant cravings for heroin. Heroin activates brain regions that produce euphoric sensations and physical dependence. Heroin is notorious for its ability to produce both psychological and physical addiction. Chronic heroin users will experience withdrawal symptoms when heroin use is discontinued. Heroin overdose is responsible for the majority of accidental drug related deaths in the U.S.

Heroin Symptoms

  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Increased urination
  • Track Marks in arms or legs
  • Itchy skin
  • Suppression of pain
  • Slowed breathing
  • Skin abscesses
  • Pinned Pupils- pupils literally the size of a pin head no matter how light or dark it is.
  • Nodding out- falling asleep at inappropriate times such as in the middle of a conversation.
  • Spoons that are burnt on the bottom for heroin injection.
  • Syringes used for heroin injection.
  • Tourniquets used for heroin injection.
  • Small balloons that have never been used but are tied in a knot at the end. Used for transporting heroin.
  • Small bags with powder residue on them. Used for transporting heroin.
  • Small pieces of burnt tinfoil. Used for smoking heroin.
  • Rolled-up dollar bills and razor blades used for snorting heroin.

Potential Negative Effects of Heroin

  • Restlessness
  • Constipation
  • Sweating
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Collapsed veins
  • Liver disease
  • Lowered resistance to infection
  • Respiratory failure
  • Respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia
  • Reduced respiration; breathing difficulties
  • Tolerance
  • Withdrawal
  • Overdose
  • Addiction
  • Bacterial infections
  • Infection of heart lining and valves
  • Arthritis and other rheumatologic problems
  • Infectious diseases, for example, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C due to sharing needles.

Heroin is an illegal drug processed from morphine, a natural substance that is extracted from the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant. It is usually white or brown and comes in a powdered form. Heroin is typically injected, but recent studies have shown that there is a shift in the way that heroin is being used. More and more people have begun to snort the drug due to its increased purity and the false idea that snorting will not lead to dependence.

Heroin has a long history of use and addiction. As far back as 6,000 years ago Summerian's referred to the opium poppy as the "joy plant". Many think that the Arab traders took opium to China in 7th or 8th century AD. There they used the drug as medicine until approximately the 17th century when they realized that it could be smoked.

Following that, the Portuguese and British supplied China with a majority of its opium. This made Britain the world's largest supplier of opium. What took place was that the opium was sold to India to then be smuggled into China, this gave Britain the ability to say that they were operating legally. When China realized what the British were doing they began to destroy the opium before it reached China which was the beginning of two wars. In the treaties that were written Britain ended up with Hong Kong, extra trading rights and sixty million pounds in compensation for the destroyed opium.

The actual drug known as heroin was created in 1874. It was originally thought of as safe and used as a non-addictive substitute for the drug morphine. Shortly after, it was realized that heroin was just as addictive as morphine and was not an alternative for morphine dependence. Heroin and other opiates that were not safe to use medically and served no purpose otherwise were made illegal in 1920 under the Dangerous Drug Act.

Every drug has different signs and symptoms of use, heroin is no different. Heroin users who inject the drug typically will cover up the injection area by wearing a long sleeved shirt or long pants. After repeated use of heroin the individual will begin to develop track marks in the areas that they inject most. These will appear as puncture marks that may be bruised or even infected if left without medical care. All heroin users will have pin-point pupils while on the drug. This is a reaction caused by opiates and is not uncommon.

Heroin creates a feeling of well-being in the user that they are not able to obtain from their everyday lives. When they use they forget about their problems for the short while they are high and feel relaxed and good. These feelings of pleasure soon turn to pain when heroin withdrawal sets in. Heroin withdrawal is an exceptionally painful process. This takes place when individuals who are dependent on heroin discontinue using. The withdrawal symptoms range from depression, nausea, convulsions, up to abnormal heartbeat and heart attacks.

There are different levels of drug addiction. Heroin is both addictive mentally and physically. The user not only craves the drug to feel good, but needs it to avoid withdrawal. This becomes a double edged sword for those individuals who try to end their dependence on the drug. Many find that as the withdrawal symptoms become worse they are unable to stay away from the drug, knowing that using will end their suffering and pain. Many turn to methadone to supplement heroin so that they do not have to experience heroin's withdrawal symptoms. In the end they find that they are either dependent on methadone for the rest of their lives or the withdrawal from methadone is even more painful and unbearable than when they tried to withdrawal from heroin.

Individuals who suffer from heroin dependence will find that attending a drug rehab is an excellent way to end their problem. Once entered into a treatment facility they will be detoxed from the drug. During this time they will be monitored carefully to make sure that their pain and suffering from heroin withdrawal is not to overwhelming. Detox provides the individual with a safe environment to rid themselves from the drug and begin to feel better. This is not the end of recovery though. The individual still needs help in remaining drug free. Attendance at a recovery facility is necessary to provide the former heroin addict with the skills necessary to prevent them from returning to their old ways.


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