Abuse of Heroin
Even though heroin abuse has been on a downward trend in the pat few
years, it's still more common today than in the early 90's. The trend
also seems to support that the new users are younger than ever. The
article "Heroin Abuse and Addiction," by the National Institute on
Drug Abuse is a great reference on the dangers that heroin can impose
on a user. The main points of the article that we will look at are:
what is it, how it's used, long term and short term effects, medical
complications, and treatments for addiction.
Heroin is part of the opiate family. It is derived from morphine,
which is extracted from the seed pods on the poppy plant. Morphine is
sold as a powder or as a sticky black substance known as "black tar."
Morphine is often cut with sugars, starches, and sometimes even
poisons. Potency of heroin has been on a rise in recent years, this
has put users even more at risk for overdose or even death.
Heroin can be smoked, sniffed/snorted, or injected. Heroin can be
injected in two ways: intravenously or intramuscularly. Injection is
the most popular form use today; although, with rising potencies and
the decrease in cost, many users have switched to sniffing or snorting
it. This form of use has attracted a wider variety of people and age
groups to use heroin, particularly the young adults.
Shortly after heroin is taken, it crosses the blood brain barrier. It
is then converted to morphine and binds with the opioid receptors.
This causes the sensation of a "rush." and begins the onset of the
short term effects. The user's respiration becomes depressed and their
mental functioning becomes clouded. During the "high," the user's body
suppresses pain and nausea or vomiting may occur.
The long term effects of heroin use in chronic users are detrimental
to their health. Infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C
can be obtained through dirty needles. Substances that don't dissolve
can clog blood vessels that lead to the brain, lungs, liver, and
kidneys. This causes small patches of cells in the vital organs to
become infected or die, which can result in arthritis or other
rheumatologic problems. Other health effects can include collapsed
veins, bacterial infections, infection of the heart lining and valves,
and child birth complications in women.
Heroin itself is one of the most addicting drugs of all. The addiction
can take over the user's life. The addict will eventually come to a
point where everything evolves around obtaining and using the drug.
This is particularly devastating because everything else becomes
insignificant. With the psychological dependence comes the physical
dependence. This is characterized by withdrawal symptoms...