Heroin is a highly addictive opiate derived from morphine, a natural substance processed from poppy plant varieties. “Heroin” is a brand name, coined and marketed by the Bayer Corporation.
Originally developed and used for medicinal purposes — including as a non-addictive cure for morphine addiction (the soldiers’ disease) — its toxic effects were not completely acknowledged until the 1920s, when strict regulations were passed by the League of Nations. With production and distribution limited to medical usage, it quickly found its way to the black market, where it became one of the most notoriously abused drugs.
Heroin is delivered to the body through injection or smoked. The addictive properties of heroin render it a maintenance drug, requiring daily use to stave off the brutal effects of withdrawal. This, coupled with the development of tolerance, makes it one of the most profitable controlled substances.
Physical Effects of Heroin Addiction
Heroin abuse has a serious impact on the health of the user, and poses a high risk of overdose. And because the drug is frequently injected, users are at risk of contracting deadly infectious diseases, such as HIV or Hepatitis. Pregnant women who use heroin risk spontaneous abortion, as well as an addicted fetus.
Consistent heroin abuse can also lead to:
- Collapsed veins
- Infections of the heart lining and its valves
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
Because heroin is usually mixed with other substances before being sold, these contaminants can damage vital organs and arteries and lead to a wide range of various pulmonary and respiratory conditions.
Societal Effects of Heroin
Because abusers build tolerance, requiring more frequent and increasing dosage, the ability to function as regular member of society is diminished. The drug becomes the center of the addict’s world, and impairs the user’s ability to normally function. Abuse leads to job loss, which all but forces the addict to generate capital to satisfy the drug craving.
Heroin Addiction Treatment and Therapy
A number of treatment programs are available and consist of a combination of medical and behavioral therapies. Detoxification is the first step, accomplished through the gradual reduction of dosage or shifting the patient to a less harmful substance that mimics the effects of heroin, but on a less serious plane.
After detoxification, the patient is referred to a long-term inpatient facility where the medical treatment is coupled with behavioral therapy. After completing the inpatient program, a private or outpatient therapies are available including sober living homes, group counseling and other support groups.
If you feel you or your loved one must be placed in a rehabilitation treatment center for heroin abuse, please call 888-373-5963 or fill out a patient placement form and The Way Out Recovery will aid in placement.