What are the effects of heroine abuse? Who are most affacted and how or why? Statistics on the effects or concerning the abuse of heroine? dangerose ffects of using and misusing the drug? Can one disc

Effects of Heroin Abuse

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Effects of Heroin Abuse

            Heroin is an extremely addictive drug that is made from morphine, which is obtained from the seedpod of the opium poppy plant commonly grown in Colombia, Asia, and Mexico. The drug can be brown, white or black but it is a white powder in its purest form. Some common street names for the drug include Smack, big H, Horse, Black tar, Dope, hell dust, and brown sugar among many others. An estimated one in four people who try heroin for the first time, become addicted. With time, a person becomes tolerant to the drug, and this leads to a higher intake. If not, a person may decide to shoot or smoke heroin to achieve the intense feeling of well-being more quickly (Waldhoer, 2015).

            The drug is used by persons across all age brackets and lifestyles for various reasons. For instance, some people admit to using heroin to feel the pleasant sensation commonly known as the ‘rush.’ The feeling is accompanied by a warm and slackened feeling in the user’s arms and legs (Strang et al., 2015). Moreover, other users claim that use of heroin boosts one’s confidence and improves their sense of well-being. According to findings from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), about 1.2% of people admit to having used heroin at least once in their lifetime (Chatterjee & Tishberg, 2018).

            Additionally, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports that the scope of heroin use has been on the rise especially because of its low cost and high availability. Such increased availability is due to the Colombian and Mexican heroin sources dominating the US markets. Technological advancements also play a major role in making communication between sources and consumers easy. Availability is one of the main reasons why addicts decided to start, as well as continue, using this drug. Heroin is an opiate processed from a combination of opium, morphine, and poppy that targets the opioid receptors in the user’s brain, which inhibit pain, sensation, and anxiety (Johnson & North, 2016). Heroin users experience a sense of extreme peacefulness that may last for hours after injecting, snorting, or smoking the drug (Fotopoulou & Parkes, 2017). Although the same calmness is achieved through exercise, the drug stimulates the brain’s reward systems. Though they all produce the feel-good chemical on the brain, exercise makes the body stronger without the harmful effects of heroin on the body (Hall et al., 2016).

            Like any other drug, there is a wide range of disadvantages arising from the abuse of heroin. First and foremost, the heroin that is easily accessible from the streets may contain other additive components, such as starch or powdered milk, that may not dissolve thus resulting in blockage of blood vessels (Srivastava & Gold, 2018). The clogging can lead to liver, kidney, or heart infections, which could result in death. Also, heroin abuse exposes the user to other serious risks such as overdose, rape, and high-risk infections like HIV/AIDS emerging from sharing injection needles Bohnert, Bradshaw, & Latkin, 2009). Moreover, in a case where a person uses injection as his or her means of administering the drug, the needle piercings leave marks and bruises on the body part, which are likely to result in skin complications such as abscesses (Zaaijer et al., 2016). The continued use of heroin makes the body dependent on the drug to the extent that withdrawal symptoms may begin to show when the drug is not consumed. Besides, expectant women who use heroin are at risk of having miscarriages, underweight births, or the possibility of getting a child who is dependent on the drug and who is likely to endure withdrawal effects (Zhou et al., 2014).

            Apart from health risks, the effects of heroin abuse can be extended to family members, neighbors, and even workmates. The immediate family members may undergo feelings of embarrassment, abandonment, fear, guilt, or anger. In extreme situations where violence may be involved, family members may feel the urge and need for legal protection against the person abusing the drug (Amlani et al., 2015). In some instances, the Good Samaritan laws protect people who report an overdose, form certain charges associated with drug use and possession. Though they vary from state to state, they are more obliged to save lives than charging people with drug crimes (Chatterjee, Yu & Tishberg, 2018). At work, heroin abuse may paint a negative image of the organization and may degrade the growth of the business due to the user’s failure in terms of reliability, trust, and work ethic. Similarly, heroin abuse could lead to other undesired social effects such as financial constraints, loss of jobs, broken families and relationships (Wooten & Guthrie, 2012).

            When the use of heroin is discontinued, the user may experience a range of withdrawal symptoms which peak between 48 and 72 hours since the time the last dose was administered. Some common withdrawal symptoms include severe heroin cravings, vomiting, muscle pain, insomnia, diarrhea, and restlessness (Lyndon et al., 2017). The signs often make the users uncomfortable thus prompting them to resume using the drug to avoid that extreme pain (Cicero, 2012) . As a result, an addict needs to have controlled detoxification to enable him or her to maneuver through the initial stages of recovery (Compton, Jones, & Baldwin, 2016). The medical detox program is supervised and works by letting the addict enter early withdrawal stages. Signs may include feeling slightly sweaty or having cold flashes. As symptoms begin to build, medical professions suggest carefully monitored drugs for management. Medication-free options are also available, and include quiet rooms, healing foods, cold baths or warm blankets or talk therapy. To treat for heroin addiction, one may combine medical treatment with some other supportive services and behavioral therapies like residential and outpatient care. Some of the medical treatments for heroin addiction include Buprenorphine, which assists in minimizing the risk of addition, Naloxone and Naltrexone to treat cases of overdose, and Methadone, which is used in maintenance therapy and for chronic pain (Amlani et al., 2015). Using Methadone to detox can be used rapidly in a month or less, or over a long period of six months to inhibit the effects of heroin (Millar et al., 2001).

            Heroin addiction is complex, and therefore the journey towards recovery may be faced with many challenges some of which include relapse and overdose. According to recent research, the relapse rate is currently at 40-60 percent (Boyer, 2015). Also, there are reports of increased overdose deaths resulting from the use of heroin since 2016 (Hassamal et al., 2016). Causes for relapse may include the inability to deal with stress, the misconception of ‘one more time may not be harmful,’ a deliberate overdose to commit suicide, or during events like gatherings and parties. Fortunately, studies show that the number of people seeking treatment for heroin has commendably increased with most of them being between 18-25 years. As these are the youths who are mostly affected, wanting to live a more productive life as well as managing money for better use are among the main reason why the numbers have increased (Drug Use Among Homeless Youths). Notwithstanding, most may miss their previous lives, want to work on a relationship seriously or might want to get and maintain a job (Barman-Adhikari et al., 2018).

            In conclusion, all sorts of adverse effects ranging from physical, mental, and health risks accompany heroin abuse. Heroin abuse not only affects the individual consuming it but also his or her family, neighbors, workmates and all the people associated with the victim.  Heroin abuse also has a degrading impact on a person’s finances and performance at work. When one is abusing any drug, there is very little development in his or her life, and it is tough to plan for the future. Despite the effects of drug abuse, there are other issues as heroin being the fastest rising cause of death due to overdose. It has overtaken deaths caused by HIV and accidents, with close to 12 million people using opioids without a doctor’s consent. Moreover, a drug addict is at risk of being arrested for drug possession which can be accompanied by hefty fines and living in the future with a criminal record. Interventions to stop drug use and abuse should be put in place to develop new and improved methods of dealing with heroin use and its adverse consequences.


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