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Heroin is an illegal opiate drug that's made from morphine which is a natural substance that comes from the Asian poppy plant. Most of the time you will find heroin in a white or brown powder form but there is also a black sticky substance that's called black tar heroin that people use. The white powder form is pure heroin and its bitter in taste, pure heroin is rarely sold on the streets though. There are several ways a heroin user can take the drug.
- Injecting heroin is done by needle and the drug is injected directly into the bloodstream.
- Snorting heroin is done by inhaling the powder through the nose and then it's absorbed into the bloodstream through the tissues in the nose.
- Smoking heroin sends the vapors into the lungs which then get absorbed into the bloodstream.
Heroin Tolerance can take place if an individual uses the drug regularly for any length of time. After a while the user has to increase their dose because they become tolerant and the drug doesn't have the same effect it once had. A larger dose is needed to achieve the same euphoric effects.
Unfortunately heroin is a drug of choice for many people throughout the United States. Just recently in April of 2011 a substance abuse report from the Columbus Dispatch shows that heroin is a growing problem in central Ohio and throughout their state. Heroin is easy to come by and that black tar heroin is the most commonly form used in central Ohio. Ohio isn't alone heroin is a problem in many areas throughout the United States and there are people in all walks of life in need of treatment for heroin addiction.
All methods of heroin use can cause addiction, it doesn't matter if the user injects, snorts or smokes heroin. Heroin that's bought on the streets is combined with many different substances like sugar, starch, quinine, and at times strychnine and other poisonous substances. There are so many dangerous ingredients in heroin users risk overdose or death. There are serious health consequences and problems associated with heroin use also.
Heroin Use Health Effects
- Infectious diseases
- Heart lining infection
- Collapsed veins
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
Also clogged blood vessels leading to the users lungs, kidneys, liver or brain which causes permanent damage and Pneumonia resulting from poor health.
Heroin Overdose Symptoms
A heroin overdose can be very serious and the symptoms associated with an overdose could lead to death so if you suspect someone overdosed on heroin seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms can include:
- Breathing problems, breathing can be slowed or possibly no breathing at all
- Low blood pressure and weakened pulse
- Lips and nails may be bluish in color
- Intestinal and stomach spasms
- Involuntary muscle cramps
Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
If a frequent or chronic heroin user stops using suddenly they will experience very uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Every person is different and some go through more intense symptoms than others. Some of the withdrawal symptoms associated with heroin addiction includes:
- Heroin cravings
- Restlessness and anxiety
- Pain in the muscles and bones
- Cold chills
- Goose bumps which are referred to as 'cold turkey'
- Kicking movements which are referred to as 'kicking the habit'
Some people go through withdrawal symptoms for months after they stop using heroin but most heroin users have symptoms for around a week. If a person is a heavy heroin user or suffers from chronic heroin addiction and their health is bad withdrawal symptoms could be fatal. Chronic users or users that are in poor health should seek medical attention during this time. Heroin cravings can continue for years especially when the individual is exposed to stress or anything that reminds them of their drug use like places, people or things.
Treatment for Heroin Abuse and Addiction
There are a variety of treatments for heroin addiction as well as medications and different forms of behavioral therapies that are successful in treating heroin dependency. Medically assisted detoxification helps the heroin user with their withdrawal symptoms stay safe and comfortable during this process.
Medications that are effective for preventing relapse from heroin addiction include Methadone, Buprenorphine, and Naltrexone. It depends on the individual as to which medication is best for them and when combined with effective behavioral treatments a person can successfully overcome their addiction to heroin.
Treatment for heroin addiction is available in outpatient, inpatient and residential settings depending on the needs of the individual. There are also Spiritual and Faith Based substance abuse treatment programs that provide comprehensive treatment programs for overcoming addiction.
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