Heroin is an illegal, addictive drug produced from morphine in poppy plants. These plants are also used to produce opium, another drug. However, the drug is as much as two to three times stronger than opium, making users highly vulnerable to heroin addiction.
Heroin has different appearances, depending upon its purity. Pure heroin is white in color while most heroin is mixed with other substances and has a brown tint. It can be mixed with sugar, starch, powdered milk, quinine, or even poisons, such as strychnine. Drug makers have begun adding the pain medication Fentanyl to heroin, which has been linked to several deaths in New York. "Black tar" heroin is dark brown or black in color.
Heroin addiction is especially dangerous because its abusers do not know what has been added to the drug. If you or a loved one is suffering from heroin addiction it is important to seek help before it is too late.
Why Has It Become So Popular?
The drug has increased in popularity because it is growing more and more available in New York. In some instances, it can be a less-costly drug to abuse than other options, such as abusing prescription pain pills. A bag can cost as little as $3. Young adults are one of the fastest-growing segments of abusers, according to Drugs.com. They are in a constant search of the cheapest way to get their fix.
Why Is It So Addictive?
Heroin addiction is dangerous for many reasons. Taking the drug causes fast withdrawal symptoms, which makes users seek more in a short amount of time. The drug's euphoric effects also mean using even once can lead to addiction.
How Is It Used?
Regardless of how the drug is used, it is highly addictive. Users may inject it or even use it as a suppository, which gives off an immediate "rush" or euphoric feeling. However, it can also be smoked, sniffed or taken orally.
Intravenous users are especially at risk for transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. Abusing the drug is also associated with a higher risk of endocarditis, a potentially deadly inflammation of the heart.
What Are the Effects?
When a person takes the drug, the body breaks it down into a morphine-like substance. Upon taking it, a person experiences s feeling of euphoria or extreme pleasure. The user's skin may be flushed, their arms and legs feel heavy, and have a dry mouth. Because the substance slows the nervous system, a person may feel drowsy and highly relaxed.
Treatment for Addiction
Treatments for addiction can include medications used to reduce cravings as well as therapy to help users deal with the emotions surrounding their addictions. Because abusing the substance changes the opiate receptors in the brain, those suffering from addiction often need professional interventions to successfully quit for the long-term.
One of the most common treatments for addiction is the drug methadone, which helps to reverse opiate addiction. However, this drug can only be utilized in approved and certified treatment programs.
An overdose can cause death in as little as one to three hours after a person injects the drug. Heroin's effects on the nervous system cause potentially deadly results, including slowing a person's breathing and causing blood pressure to drop to very low numbers. The drug's effects on breathing can contribute to pneumonia. Users can also experience muscle spasms, convulsions, and even go into a coma.
An addict may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms anywhere from 6 to 24 hours after using heroin. Withdrawal symptoms can include sweating, anxiety, chills, muscle aches, severe stomach upset, and fever. If you suspect a loved one to have a dependency on the substance it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Do not ignore the problem until it is too late.