The United States is going through an opioid epidemic, with opioid overdoses at the highest levels they have ever been at throughout history. So what is heroin and why is it sweeping the nation?
Heroin is an illegal drug that is made from the popular painkiller, morphine. Morphine is naturally derived from the seed pod of a select strand of poppy plants and is used as a pain reliever.
Types of Heroin
- Pure Heroin: This variety of heroin comes in a white powder form and is bitter in taste.
- Highly Pure Heroin: This type is also white and not cut with any other drug. It can be snorted or smoked.
- ‘Black Tar’ Heroin: This type of heroin is dark and sticky as it is processed differently than pure heroin. It is black in color due to the impurities that are left over from processing. This type of heroin can be injected or diluted into another concoction.
Heroin is an Opiate
Many individuals, who are addicted to heroin, first started off taking opiate painkillers. They may have been prescribed opioids by a doctor as a way to mitigate the pain associated with a car accident or chronic discomfort. The problem is that prescription opiates are extremely addictive. When patients can no longer get a doctor’s prescription for opiates, they turn to the cheaper version that is made up of the same drug: heroin. In other words, heroin is an opiate and vice versa.
The Effect of Heroin on the Body
Heroin comes in synthetic and semi-synthetic formulas, both being equally as dangerous and addictive as one another. Heroin works to boost the body’s response, creating a sensation of euphoria and pleasure. Those who use heroin often feel a rush of happiness and satisfaction almost instantly, whether snorted or injected. Heroin does not always give that sensation to all of its users. Here are some effects that heroin have:
- Sensation of feeling itchy
- Clouded train of thought
- Arms and legs feel heavy
- Damaged nostril tissue
- Collapsed veins
- Lung issues
- Liver disease
Overdosing on heroin could be fatal if not addressed immediately. When an individual has overdosed on heroin, their heart rate typically slows down and even stops completely. This ultimately reduces the amount of oxygen that the brain receives, resulting in possible mental side effects. If caught in time, a heroin overdose can be treated with a medication called Naloxone. It works extremely quickly once injected into the individual, reversing the effects of an overdose.
Those who abuse heroin will quickly build up a tolerance for it so they will require more and more of the drug in order to get high. Often times, frequent drug use results in substance use disorder (SUD) wherein drugs start to invade and deteriorate one’s life. They will no longer attend work or school and their social circles begin to change as well. Addicts will go to great extents to get high and will avoid former friends and family as they know they will be judged and scrutinized.
Those who try and quit heroin ‘cold turkey’ could suffer from severe withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the severity of your addiction, withdrawal symptoms could begin as early as hours after you last took the drug.
Some common withdrawal symptoms are:
- Cold flashes
- Being restless
Heroin use is also known to have detrimental side effects on the brain. It can hinder the part of the brain that controls behavior, responds to stress, and the ability to make rational decisions.
If you are suffering through a heroin addiction, there is hope. WhiteSands Treatment can help you successfully overcome your addiction through providing you with top-notch treatment plans. Through medically-assisted detox followed by inpatient and outpatient programs, you can overcome addiction and begin on the promising path of sobriety.