Heroin Drug Addiction

Heroin Drug Addiction

Heroin drug addiction: An American tragedy

Once heralded as a safe and non-addictive alternative to morphine, heroin drug addiction has turned into a national menace since coming to the United States in the late 1800’s. Now addiction to it is at epidemic levels with mortality rates that can approach 70%. Overdose, traffic accidents and suicide are sad but all to common outcomes of this terrible disease.

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Sometimes glamorized, heroin addiction is the most rapidly acting of the opiates and the most abused. It is everywhere, in our communities, in our schools and its reach crosses all socioeconomic boundaries. It is highly addictive and all too often fatal.

Why is heroin SO addictive?

Heroin is a highly addictive drug, made from morphine, which is made from opium, a processed derivative from a natural substance harvested from the seedpods of poppy plants. The drug appears as a white powder, although it is sometimes also seen as a brown powder.

The drug is usually injected, but it can also be smoked, or snorted.

While most people could truly be saved from an addiction to heroin, but in reality few seek treatment.

Visit Opioid Abuse Facts for general opiate information.

Users inject because the intensity of the high is greater, and chronic users may inject up to four times or more each day.

The user gets his “rush” within seconds after the injection. When the drug is smoked or snorted, it may take up to 15 minutes for it to take effect. The “rush” is not as intense. The National Institute on Drug Abuse warns that regardless of the way the drug is taken, it’s extremely addictive. In recent years, the smoking and snorting of heroin has been widely reported among those seeking treatment for addiction. Many have a misconception that heroin drug addiction only happens if (they) inject it; NOT TRUE!

Although people over 30 are the largest user group according to national data, there is an alarming indication that young users are being attracted by a high purity form of the drug, which is also inexpensive. This form of the drug is usually smoked or sniffed, not injected.

How did heroin come to the United States?

Opium found its way into the United States in the 1800’s when Chinese immigrants came to work on the railroad. They brought opium with them, and while we may have an image of the Wild West being riddled with saloons, opium dens were once as common.

Morphine was developed from opium around 1810 in Germany for use in blocking pain. The medicine came to this country in the 1850’s and was widely used in the Civil War.

The unexpected consequence of morphine was addiction, as tens of thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers became addicts.

Meanwhile, back in Germany, a supposedly “safe and non-addictive” form of morphine was being developed and in 1874 we were introduced to heroin drug addiction.

This “miracle drug” would do everything that morphine did, only without the negative side effects. In fact, drug companies thought it was so safe they even recommended it for children. Heroin drug addiction became such a problem that it was included in the Dangerous Drug Act of 1920, as Congress tried to stop the dreadful tide of heroin addiction.

What does heroin do?

Heroin is a central nervous system depressant that gives the user a “rush,” an intense feeling of pleasure, euphoria.

- The user feels a warm flush to the skin. The user’s arms and legs feel heavy, and relaxed.

- Dry mouth is common.

- Users may feel sleepy one moment and be wide awake another.

- The central nervous system is depressed under heroin, and mental functions slow down.

These are all short-term effects.

Long-term, abuse of heroin can lead to:

- Collapsed veins.

- Serious, unseen problems can occur, such as heart problems, infections of the heart lining and valves.

- Cellulites and liver disease can develop, as well as pulmonary disease.

- Addicts who are in poor health are in jeopardy of contracting pneumonia, as heroin depresses the respiratory system.

Users develop a tolerance to heroin and that leads to addiction. Abusers need more and more heroin to get the same “rush” and as the amount of heroin needed grows, the dependence on the drug takes hold.

Addicts need the drug because their bodies become used to the drug being present, as if it were supposed to be there in order for everything to function.

The BRAIN has been fooled into thinking it “needs” the heroin.

Reduction in the amount of heroin used produces withdrawal symptoms, even though the addict is still using.

Even after a short period of time, as little as a few hours, the body wants more.

Addicts experience pain in the muscles and bones, diarrhea, chills, vomiting and insomnia. The worst of the symptoms of withdrawal occur 48 to 72 hours after taking the drug, and can linger on for a week.

Addicts who are in poor health are actually at risk of dying if the drug is taken away. However, a withdrawal is not as life-threatening or dangerous as barbiturate or alcohol withdrawal.

Overdose is COMMON

Users who take to the streets to find heroin, do not necessarily know what they are buying. The powder they think is heroin is actually a mixture of other substances heroin.

The heroin is cut with sugar, or quinine, or some other substance, even another drug.

The buyer does not know the dosage of the heroin, or the content of the mixture. As a result, overdoses are common. As users develop a tolerance to heroin, and take more and more to get high, the risks of overdose increase.

Health risks

Heroin is a major problem because of its serious health risks. Users who mainline heroin are in jeopardy of contracting AIDS and hepatitis from sharing dirty needles, and those users often sustain collapsed veins. Heroin overdose is a serious risk, and too often those overdoses are fatal. Women using this drug while pregnant can suffer a spontaneous abortion.

In another section of this web site we refer to rehab programs that administer alternatives to heroin.
Please see the treatment page to understand heroin treatment risks!

This is done because of the danger involved with cutting the addict off and denying the body the opportunity to reset itself to functioning without the drug.

Where is it distributed?

Distributors and dealers of heroin target children for expanding their markets.

Schools are primary target areas for dealers.

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System is a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The 2005 report indicated that among the students interviewed, 2.4% admitted to using heroin at least once in their life.

The Community Epidemiology Work Group measured strong heroin indicators in major North American cities.

Ranking highest were Baltimore, Newark, Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC. The study for the year 2004, indicates that 82% of drug treatment admissions in Newark were primarily for heroin abuse. Boston reported 74% and Baltimore 60%. These drug treatment admissions did not include those for alcohol.

Heroin Drug Addiction is on the rise!

Heroin use is absolutely on the rise. There was a spike in usage during the 60's and 70's but it has now reappeared and has been increasing again since 2007.
This is the data from the government site call http://www.drugabuse.gov:

"According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2012 about 669,000 Americans reported using heroin in the past year, a number that has been on the rise since 2007. This trend appears to be driven largely by young adults aged 18–25 among whom there have been the greatest increases.
The number of people using heroin for the first time is unacceptably high, with 156,000 people starting heroin use in 2012, nearly double the number of people in 2006 (90,000). In contrast, heroin use has been declining among teens aged 12–17."

For more information on heroin drug addiction please click here

Have a question or story about the a treatment for drug addiction?

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News... Heroin Drug Addiction

Click below to see contributions about heroin addiction.

My Journey to Recovery 
I took the ACE survey ( Adverse Childhood Experience)and answer 9 out of 10 question yes. I was told because of my exposer to childhood trauma, I was predisposed …

Inmate wife 
Good evening, I can't give you my name but I'm sleepless in the Bronx. I have known my husband for 28 years he went away when I was 15 years old for murder. …

When someone keeps lying to you 
I have been with my partner for three years and we are engaged and have a house together. For the first three years he has been struggling with heroin, …

Desperate to seek help! 
Desperate to seek help please help me someone before it's too late! I'm addicted to opiates and need help to get off of them; I've been taking them …

Question about Suboxone? 
My husband is using Suboxone for heroin addiction. Can you use heroin at the same time?

Heroin Addict 
I have been addicted to heroin for 15 years, I injected the heroin for all of those years. Then I started mixing the heroin with tablets called valoids. …

When I was 70 I was taking hydrocodone for severe lower back pain prescribed by my family physician. At the same time I was very depressed and suffered …

How can I help my friend who has a strong heroin addiction? 
Hello, I am very concerned about a friend of mine with a strong heroin addiction. Is there help on the NHS? I don't think he would choose to seek help …

Recovery Journal Day 14 
14 Days Wow. 32 years old. I feel like I just woke up from a 10 year nightmare, longer than that really, Christina would be 30 years old and I probably …

What is the meaning of a condom in a foil packet for a heroin user? 
We recently found out that our child was using heroin. In searching her belongings, I found a condom inside a foil packet. Does this mean she is trading …

Please answer some questions about heroin? 
Can someone help me answer some questions about heroin? I want to stop so bad, but I can't get past the thought process... then the actual high. It's habit, …

My drug addict dad 
There's not many people I know that have a dad like mine. Well from what I know, I don't know any. Finding this website is something I've always wanted …

Can you save a relationship when the trust is gone? 
Dope is his girlfriend I've been engaged to my mate for 3 years now. I'm scared to make that leap. I've known him longer than 3 years though. We have …

Heroin addiction 
I am unsure if my son has relapsed, but, I found some wax bags in his room along with a crack pipe and many tissues which appear to have dabbed the injection …

The battle of Heroin 
My name is Jess, I'm 36yrs old, and I've been battling heroin for 10yrs, luckily... I'm on my 3rd year clean. People ask me how I do it? Committement. …

My husband is a heroin addict 
I am happy and in love with my man. We have a loving relationship. He told me he was a heroin addict...i thought he meant WAS...a month after we started …

Is he totally lost? 
It is February 26, 2015 and I sit in my parents home a week and a half away from having my first child. I don't know exactly when I lost all control …

Devil's Claws 
I've been clean for almost 1 year and I relapsed two weeks ago and already police lights were behind me in my rear view mirror. How scary, how memorable …

Just want some insight. 
2-9-15 Detoxification of my body has started. A week ago today I was taking between ten and fifteen oxycodone tablets a day. Today I have tapered to just …

I don't think so. Here it is 2015 and if anything it is on the rise in western New York.

6 years together 
I just found out two days ago that my boyfriend of 6 years has a serious heroin addiction. He only told me because I was on my way to reporting money was …

I've never done heroin ,  
I've seen people on it, but I've never touched it. My husband use to do it. My sister lives in Mesa Arizona, she's on heroin. My mother tells me my sister …

Don't know what to do with Heroin Addicted boyfriend? 
I have been with my boyfriend for 22 months. He’s been doing heroin the entire time and I did not find out until he confessed on 3 January. He finally …

Looking for meetings 
I'm looking for a support meeting for family members with loved ones addicted to prescription medications. Thank you

Click here to submit your question, story or listing.

The Link Between Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin 
The link between prescription drug abuse and heroin use is real and dangerous. Heroin and prescription drug related deaths have littered the news recently …

Heroin recovery question? 
How long does it take for a person to regain normal energy after quitting heroin? Also, how long to feel normal eating and sleeping habits?

Heroin Help. 
I am in a serious relationship with a great person but the only thing that has been affecting him is his heroin addiction. He has admitted before that …

I can't hang 
I cannot do it anymore just needed to tell somebody! I am a 57 year old man who is tired of living on 500mg of oxycontin and hydrocodone. I am tired …

Need help and want your opinion?  
I've been taking 180 mg of ms extended release morphine and 2 Oxycodone 10mg a day for 2 months. I'm trying to quit this weekend and I have a few Subutex …

Subutex and Suboxone 
I was wanting to know what the difference is between Subutex and Suboxone? I spent 3 nights in rehab and was taking Subutex and i was sent home with Suboxone?? …

Online support group specically for prescription drug addiction? 
My name is Tina and I am an addict, I have been in recovery for prescription Drug addiction for two years, I am working the steps and I have a sponsor, …

My best friend is asking me for help 
My best friend likes to take pain killers, any kind she can get her hands on. She knows that she needs to stop, she's afraid of the withdraws, getting …

My opiate hell 
I began at age fourteen, when I first snorted a Hydrocodone, it started innocently enough, I was just trying to have fun, be cool and get friends, but …

How does one support a friend in residential treatment? 
I have a female friend who has been in a residential treatment program for heroin addiction for approximately 2 months. At this point in her treatment …

I am an alcoholic with 12 years sobriety, now I'm hooked on heroin? 
I am a recovering alcoholic. I have not had a drink in over 12 years. I am also bipolar and for about a year now have been having mixed episodes where …

My son was on heroin and has been taking Suboxone for 10 months? 
My son was on heroin and has been taking Suboxone for 10 months, during this time he was selling the Suboxone and buying heroin. He wants to slowly decrease …

Heroin Relapse 
I am looking for relapse statistics for heroin, that I can quote for a school paper, can you direct me in the right direction? Thank you in advance. …

Suboxone is not the answer  
My twin sons were addicted to heroin. I was addicted to opiates as well. It's genetic after all. Three years ago we thought we found a miracle an opiate …

My son he is 27 is now in the hospital from a abscess in his upper leg from injections. I was not looking at the signs: Always needing money from me …

My significant other needs help 
My significant other has been clean for over 120 days. Yesterday he had a relapse. He needs help. We have a 4 year old son who is living with us and I …

How long does the pain last from opiate withdrawal? 
I'm 43 year old father of three. I started abusing oxy, perks and heroin, well just about anything for awhile. I have been doing it daily for three years …

Heroin Life. 
I'll start out by telling everyone a little bit about myself. I am 25 years old, I come from a good family, my father is an engineer and mother a principle. …

My ex has been abusing hydrocodone? 
My ex has been abusing hydrocodone for some time besides the obvious behavioral symptoms, his face is now puffy-- I have not seen him in 2 years what …

Not Just Heroin 
It started on the East Coast and was soon everywhere. Addicts are buying heroin on the street, thinking that it's just heroin, and wind up overdosing …

PLEASE sign our petition to ban Oxycontin!! 
Hi... My husband passed away from an accidental overdose of oxycontin, xanax and alcohol. There is a website banoxycontin.com and there is a petition on …

Why is it so HARD to get methadone? 
I'm also looking for answers as to why it's so hard to find a doctor who prescribes methadone for addiction treatment. Apparently if you don't have money, …

A new book about heroin called "The Go-Go Girl". 
I wrote a novel, The Go-Go Girl, when I was going through recovery at rehabs and institutions. I was hoping you might want talk about it. I was an over …

Herion Question 
Do people refer to heroin as White Horse? I have a male friend who I've known for years but have lost contact over and reunited recently. Years ago, …

All of the sudden... HEROIN was there! 
“Carl” and I have been friends for years, but through a professional connection, so we check in every once in a while. It’s been a few years since …

Click here to submit your question, story or listing.

Can I stay in this relationship or do I have to leave? 
My husband is addicted to percocet. I first found out last May of 2013 he came to me with this saying he wanted to stop ...... I was so blindsided by …

Vain missed? 
One gram of heron in needle vain missed what happens to you?


Where do we start? 
Where do we start? My niece is 25y/o with a heroin addiction. I have never faced something like this, and don't have a clue where to start. She of …

Can we get our daughter committed for detox at age 31? 
Have a daughter that is 31 years old, she is addicted to heroin and meth, how and where can I take her to get help? She is resisting. We live in Gallup, …

How can I get proper help? 
Hi, I suffered with addiction for 8 yrs from ages 12 to 20. I stayed clean for 11 years with help from a great supporting group at the congregation i went …

Opiate addiction?  
My son has a opiate addiction, he's 31, 2 young kids, and a wife who has filed for divorce. He moved in with me, 3 months ago I noticed slurring, …

Unintended Consequences 
They never see the worst case scenario coming. They rationalize their drug use by saying that “I’m only hurting myself,” but they are wrong and sadly, …

My son is 31 he started using at around age 20 off and on, he is now on and in addition to the drug use, his wife filed for divorce, they have 2 children, …

What's should I do to help my heroin addicted daughter? 
I have a 26 years old daughter drug addict, she has been taking heroin for 4 years and have tried to stop and after 5 months being off it, she started …

Click here to submit your question, story or listing.

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- Matthew 7:7-8

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