Heroin is a powerful drug derived from the opium poppy plant that contains pain-killing components. It is illegal in the United States despite having been previously administrated to patients experiencing severe pain in the earlier part of the century.
It is imperative that heroin addicts seek professional treatment. Barring treatment for addiction, heroin addiction risks are:
- HIV/AIDS or hepatitis from sharing intravenous paraphernalia
- Sexually transmitted diseases from engaging in risky behaviors while high
- Increased risk of suicide, accidents, divorce and unemployment
- Respiratory depression
- Death from accidental overdose
There are many different heroin addiction warning signs you may watch out for. Drug treatment programs commonly recommended for heroin addicts include comprehensive care services in a rehabilitation facility; in some cases, outpatient treatment services are suggested. Constant care is the heroin addict’s best bet due to the powerful and insidious nature of heroin addiction. How does heroin use impact the United States overall? The following statistics illustrate the potent, tragic effects heroin wreaks on families, individuals and society as a whole.
- Teen heroin addiction abuse is on the decline; however, two out of every 100 senior students in high school use heroin at least once during their high school career.
- Almost one-third of all senior high school students surveyed in a poll by the National Institute of Drug Abuse reported that heroin was “easy to obtain” in or near school grounds.
- The average age users first try heroin has declined within the last 10 years – as of 2010 the average age is 20.7 years old.
- In 2007, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a survey of young adults and college students. Slightly more than .5 percent of college students reported lifetime use of heroin and approximately 1.6 percent of young adults ages 19 to 28 reported the same.
- In the year 2007, the average age of clients admitted to addiction treatment for heroin abuse was 36 years old.
- Over four million US citizens have admitted to using heroin at least once throughout their lives; such statistics are most likely a reflection of the minimum number of people who have tried heroin, underestimating the true magnitude of the problem.
- The Drug Abuse Warning Network (WARN) noted in 2008 that more than half of all accidental deaths as a byproduct of drug overdose were linked to heroin.
- In 2006, an estimated 113 million emergency department visits were a result of heroin overdose and/or abuse.
- Throughout the course of a day, the average heroin addict spends between $150 and $200 to feed their habit.
- In state prisons, almost 25 percent of incarcerated convicts use heroin on a regular basis; currently, almost 17 percent of prisoners in Federal prison use heroin.
- Nearly 75 percent of all Hepatitis C cases are the result of injectable drug abuse, such as users sharing contaminated needles with one another; in the majority of cases, heroin is used.
- Notable regions of the black market (i.e., areas of the world most notorious for the purchase and selling of heroin) are found in four geographical areas: South America (Columbia), Southeast Asia, Mexico and Southwest Asia (principally Afghanistan).
- More than 80 percent of heroin imports into the United States are derived from Afghanistan alone.
- Heroin bought and sold on the street is often “cut” with additional materials, making it less potent. Thus, the average user does not know exactly what he or she is buying. When heroin is cut, it is done so with various chemical compounds, such as sugar, quinine, strychnine, starch and other dangerous components. When users are unaware of the true contents of heroin, they increase the number of associated risks.
- In terms of clients entering the intake process as the “first step” in heroin addiction treatment options=, in 1999, 14.6 percent of the total admissions were heroin addicts. In 2007, 13.6 percent of treatment admissions were heroin addicts. Thus, the number of individuals abusing heroin throughout the last 20 years has not decreased on a significant scale, which is unfortunate.
- Regular use of heroin leads to heroin addiction which breeds tolerance to the drug; this means the user requires increasingly high doses of heroin in order to feel the same effects. A person who is addicted to heroin cannot stop using the drug without incurring adverse consequences.
- Upon cessation of heroin use, withdrawal symptoms peak within 48 to 72 hours after the last dose. Heroin withdrawal symptoms include insomnia, restlessness, agitation, bone pain, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, lethargy, cold flashes accompanied by goose bumps, depression, anxiety and mood swings.
- Throughout treatment, heroin addicts are evaluated and treated accordingly for the various effects heroin has potentially wreaked on their bodies. Risks include dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, clouded mental functioning, infectious disease, collapsed veins, infected heart lining, abscesses at the injection site and liver or kidney failure.
- Substance abusers who abuse heroin and other drugs often suffer from at least one co-occurring medical condition, such as lung and cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, mental illness, depression, anxiety, hepatitis or obesity, to name several. Imaging scans, chest x-rays and blood tests show the damaging effects of drug abuse in the human body, according to Above the Influence (a government-run website on drug prevention and education).
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