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Heroin Abuse and Addiction Health Risks
What are the Health Risks Associated with Heroin Use, Abuse and Addiction?
When a person uses heroin regularly there are serious health problems they can face and the overwhelming intense cravings experienced from heroin addiction can make it impossible to stop using on your own. It doesn't matter whether a person uses heroin for the first time or if they're a chronic heroin addict, at any time the user risks accidental overdose. There is no way of knowing for sure what's exactly in the heroin you're using and many times it's cut with poisons that can cause an accidental overdose or death.
Initially in the beginning when a person first uses heroin they experience an intense rush of euphoria after the drug enters their brain especially if they inject the drug directly into their bloodstream. Individuals that smoke heroin experience an almost immediate intense rush as well. Snorting heroin produces a rush but not quite as intense or immediate. The intense rush and euphoric feelings are produced by the surge of dopamine that takes place after heroin enters the brain. At this same time, the user also experiences a dry mouth, a warm flushing of the skin, and their limbs begin to feel heavy. Some people also feel nauseous, begin to vomit and experience itching. After a while the individual becomes drowsy and sleepy for a few hours and their breathing slows down and they're unable to think clearly. Sometimes a person's breathing can slow down so much, they stop breathing. Anyone that uses heroin even for the first time, risks an accidental overdose because it's impossible to be completely sure of the purity or what other poisonous chemicals are combined in the drug.
With repeated use of heroin the user risks becoming tolerant meaning they need to increase their dose or repeat their dose sooner because they are unable to achieve the rush they did in the beginning and the high doesn't last as long. With repeated use, tolerance leads to heroin addiction unless the individual stops abusing heroin and seeks help. Everyone is different, some people become tolerant sooner than others but with repeated use of heroin, addiction will take place.
When a person becomes addicted to heroin they're miserable, unable to function at all unless they are using the drug. They experience intense cravings and experience symptoms of withdrawal because they're psychologically and physically dependent on the drug in order to function on their own.
Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
These symptoms can be experienced within a few hours after a person stops using heroin if they're a chronic user. Because of repeated use, heroin has impaired their normal brain function because of the changes that have been made in their brain circuits. This affects the person's ability to remember, reason, think properly, or even learn new things easily.
Long Term Effects of Heroin Use
- Fertility problems
- Collapsed veins
- Clogged blood vessels that lead to major organs
- Lung problems like pneumonia or TB
- Bacterial infections
- Menstrual problems
- Infections of the heart lining and valves
- Arthritis and other rheumatologic problems
According to the National Drug Threat Assessment of 2010, heroin is widely available and is increasing in certain areas of the United States. The prices are low, wholesale purity is high, and heroin related overdoses and overdose deaths had increased.