What is Heroin Exactly and What Makes it So Dangerous?
Whenever we hear people discuss heroin, people often talk about how deadly this drug is. The truth is that while other drugs have a certain ‘hype’ about them to keep people away from experimenting with them, it is in fact among the most dangerous and destructive drugs on the planet. The main reason it is so dangerous is that it is so incredibly addictive – because it is synthesized from an opiate substance.
What Makes it So Addictive?
The moment that the user takes in the narcotic, it immediately heads straight for the brain. Once the drug has entered the body, it begins to take over. Ingested heroin binds to the brain’s opiate receptors from the body converting this drug into morphine. The result is the euphoric ‘high’, arms and legs begin to feel heavy and the skin flushes, meanwhile the user experiences a surge of intense pleasure.
The drug influences those areas of the brain that produce the reward sensation and triggers our physical dependence region. If it merely influenced one or the other it would be dangerous enough, but influencing both areas make for an extremely dangerous drug.
What it does is trick the brain into no longer producing reward sensations by itself. What this means is that over time, someone who uses this narcotic is no longer going to be able to have enjoyable or pleasurable experiences themselves. This means that without using, that person no longer has enjoyable or happy feelings on his or her own. Then there is also the physical dependence on the drug. Our bodies come to rely on the intake of the drug on a continual basis. After not using, negative symptoms begin to appear. These can include severe cramps, seizures, coma and even death.
Some of the more common withdrawal symptoms are:
- Chills and profuse sweating
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Stomach cramps
- Muscle cramps
- Panic attacks
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive yawning
- Watery eyes and runny nose
- Goose bumps
- Dilated pupils
Methods of Using
As with many other illegal drugs, it is possible to abuse it in a number of different ways. The most common method of using is intravenous injection. The reason that most people prefer this method is that the intense rush that is brought on because of heroin use is immediate when injected and is more intense. After the user injects it into their veins, the rush occurs approximately seven to eight seconds later, almost immediate.
Because the risk of contracting hepatitis B, C and HIV/AIDS increases when needles are shared in using the drug, snorting and smoking have become the increasingly preferred method. There are even rumors going around with those experimenting with the drug that if someone snorts or smokes this dangerous narcotic, it would somehow be less habit-forming. This is false; it is extremely addictive regardless of how it is used. However, it would appear that people are in fact, buying into this notion. A report released by the United States Department of Health and Human Services indicated that while the percentage of active users have declined, the percentage of people that smoke heroin has increased by more than 12%.
Why People Use So Often
People often discuss the intense rush of using, but the reason they often use this narcotic several times each day (thus increasing the likelihood that they will become even more hooked in the process) is that the euphoric rush it provides is very short-lived. While the high is short and intense, the feeling of being incredibly drowsy, which occurs after the rush ends, will last for several hours. During this time, the user is both disoriented and slow to react. Breathing and heart function slows down, sometimes to the point of the user becoming unconscious, slipping into a coma, or even passing away. Because the high is so intense yet short lived, users are forced to use several times each day, thus increasing their addiction – it is, to some extent, a drug dealer’s ideal product. Because of this, the chances of relapse without someone entering into a long-term treatment facility and going through detoxification are high.
Why is it So Dangerous?
You now know that heroin is both powerfully addictive and makes changes to our brain on a molecular and neurochemical level. The reason that this narcotic becomes dangerous so quickly is users rapidly build up a tolerance for it. Because the rush is so fleeting, those struggling with a dependency have to keep using over and over and more and more to produce the same desired high. Eventually the craving becomes such that there are only two goals in their life: using heroin and getting more of it.
Aside from the aforementioned risks of hepatitis B, C, and HIV/AIDS due to shared needles, there are also a number of other medical complications that people struggling with addiction face. It suppresses appetite, which means that many of its users suffer from malnutrition because they are never hungry so they just spend their money buying narcotics instead of food. Suffering from malnutrition can lead to increased chances of illness and viral infections. There are a number of other medical conditions associated with abusing the drug:
- Scarred, collapsed veins due to intravenous use
- Lung infections
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Blood-borne bacterial infections
- Bacterial infections of the heart valves
- Abscesses and boils
Time to Make a Change
The truth is that the addictive nature of heroin became even more evident in a study done by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. They found that more than half of the people that had used in the past 12 months were dependent on the narcotic. We see that there are a lot of misconceptions or puffery when it comes to describing the dangers of certain drugs – not so with this opiate. It is genuinely dangerous and it not only has the potential to be fatal and is incredibly addictive, but also carries with it several other negative aspects. If you or someone you care about is struggling with addiction, make the call today. You deserve the best possible treatment that offers a solid chance of recovery.