Heroin addiction is on the rise in the U.S. The recent and untimely death of Academy Award-winning best actor, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, due to an apparent heroin overdose, brings this serious and deadly drug addiction freshly into the public eye.
Heroin Use Lethal but Still Not Declining
Currently, an estimated 900,000 Americans are addicted to heroin. The drug is highly addictive because it enters and affects the brain so quickly.
There has been an increase in heroin use since the 1980s, despite the warnings and statistics that prove its lethal potential. Some addicts go through the arduous withdrawal process to reduce their tolerance to heroin. This allows them to experience the addictive rush again when they resume use of the drug.
Effects of Heroin
Heroin is injected, snorted or smoked. The body converts to morphine causing abusers to feel the desired rush almost immediately.Short-term effects include:
- Pleasurable rush
- Depressed respirations
- Foggy mental functioning
- Severe itching
Long-term heroin effects include:
- Addiction and physical dependence
- Infectious diseases; hepatitis B and C, HIV and AIDS
- Heart, lung or liver failure
- Behavior changes
Who's Taking Heroin and Why?
There is an increased supply of cheaper and purer heroin readily available in all areas of the country. The drug used to be most popular in urban areas but has now spread its use into the suburban and even rural areas.
By history, most heroin users are older, long-term abusers. Right now, the drug is growing in popularity among the youth population, especially those around college campuses in all corners of the U.S.
Heroin Withdrawal Is Hard
In order to fully appreciate the clutches of the drug, it is important to understand the addiction and withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms start within a few hours of the last dose of heroin, peak between 48 to 72 hours and last for 7 to 10 days.
Withdrawal symptoms include:
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle and bone pain
Opiate addiction, especially heroin, is very difficult to resolve; therefore, heroin addiction oftentimes becomes a chronic and relapsing condition which increases the dangers of overdosing. Heroin treatment centers provide the appropriate and consistent replacement medication, psychological treatment, and healthcare providers specializing in substance abuse. Along with the support network of family/friends, abusers can quit heroin and stay clean.