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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.Who Answers?
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Becoming addicted to heroin is not something I am proud of by any means. At the same time, I realize how fast it can happen to anyone and how hard it can be to stop. When I was 24 I found some new friends. They taught me how to use heroin in all the ways possible and once I started I couldn't stop and honestly, when I started I didn't really want to. Before long I was out looking for a high constantly and not doing anything else. Every thought in my head was directly related to finding a way to get more heroin. In a nutshell it was not taking over my life, it was my life. I didn't think I had a problem. I couldn't see that it was destroying everything I cared about. All my relationships where falling apart but I couldn't see that and didn't see any reason to change what I was doing.
One day it hit me when I was so strung out I wanted to die and couldn't find the next high. I turned to get help and realized I had nobody. No friends, no family, no job and no hope for my future. It took everything I had to ask for help from a rehab center and I knew I couldn't do it on my own. I checked myself in for a long term treatment and they helped me with detox and a treatment plan. Thanks the rehab I got the tools I needed to avoid falling back into the heroin rollercoaster. This doesn't mean it isn't an every day struggle to stay clean. I have fallen down more than once, but now I recognize when that happens and find help as fast as I can.
I lost my life to heroin. I was breathing but that wasn't living. I gave everything to the drug and by the time I was 30 years old I had lost my wife, kids, job, all my family and all my true friends who couldn't stand to watch me destroy myself. I used have way of getting high with heroin I could from needles to smoking it. I lost every bit of money I ever had and started steeling to pay for my habit. It took my nearly dying on an emergency room table to get me to see I needed to stop. Of course, I thought that I could manage this on my own. After ending up back on the street searching for heroin and getting arrested I realized I could not do this by myself.
I finally checked myself into a rehab program that gave me the detox that I needed to get clean and the treatment plan that would help keep me there. This was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and I have to face it every day. I lost everything that ever matter to me and destroyed the trust those who love me once felt for me. I am learning how to rebuild and how to keep myself from giving in to the many triggers that I face every day. Getting out of bed each day is an accomplishment and I have to constantly remind myself of that fact as I work through the days trying to look to the future.