Heroin, also known as codeine, is prepared from opium, a naturally occurring organic substance extracted from poppies. Heroin, like all opioids, is extremely addictive. It’s the fastest-acting and among the strongest opiates available. It tends to be a brownish or white powder and sometimes as a dark black sticky stuff, called ‘black tar heroin’ by those who know it by the name. Heroin users usually take it in injection form. The effects of Heroin are highly unpredictable and vary from person to person, so using it without proper dosage and prescription could prove deadly.
Heroin, often referred to as narcotics or OxyContin, is Schedule II narcotic, meaning it has an eminent potential for misuse and addiction. Naloxone is the drug that counteracts the effects of Heroin addiction. If the dosage of Heroin taken exceeds the dosage of naloxone prescribed, the user may become fatally ill. Naloxone can only be obtained from a prescription from a qualified doctor.
Heroin has many side effects and can be deadly. These include respiratory, cardiac, gastrointestinal, and psychiatric disorders. The reason why Heroin abuse is on the rise has not been established. Many believe that its increasing popularity is due to increased tolerance for the drug use and some people say it is used as a crutch to alleviate depression or other mental illnesses. The increased use of Heroin can also be attributed to the fact that heroin use and addiction results in an absence of physical withdrawal symptoms when the substance is stopped.
When heroin enters the body system it does so very quickly, within hours of injection. This makes the user dependent upon it. Once the substance is injected, the brain releases a surge of dopamine, causing the user to feel pleasure. As time passes, with repeated injections the levels of dopamine in the brain decrease and come into a balance with the amount of oxycotin, the substance that is usually added to cure withdrawal symptoms when the drug use is discontinued. Because of this long-term association between Heroin and addiction many researchers believe that prolonged use of Heroin might have a detrimental effect on the brain.
Due to the rapid and drastic effects of Heroin there are several common symptoms that can appear during a heroin overdose. These symptoms include restlessness, sweating, confusion, severe jaw pain, increased heart rate, vomiting, diarrhea, cold chills, fainting, muscle aches, and high fever. It should be noted that these symptoms are often overlooked as non-threatening and will simply go away. However, prolonged or continued use of Heroin can lead to a gradual decrease in physical functioning and can eventually lead to the onset of progressive conditions such as respiratory and kidney failure.
Another symptom of withdrawal from Heroin can be found in those who suffer from what is known as “abscesses”. An abscess is an open and inflamed infected area in the body, and it is often associated with heroin use and abuse. The most common type of abscesses is referred to as opisthoracic, which is often fatal due to complications such as oxygen deprivation and gangrene, as well as liver and kidney disease.
The continued use of Heroin for periods of time can also lead to the development of what is called a heroin users’ disease, which occurs when the immune system fails to fight off the infection caused by Heroin use. An abscess can also be responsible for causing an assortment of physical dependence issues, which includes the inability to produce adequate amounts of sweat to control one’s body temperature, weak eyesight, collapsed veins, and a general obsession with death and dying. This extreme psychological dependency often develops into a strong psychological need for Heroin use, and this is often cited as one of the primary drivers of Heroin addiction.
Heroin users are also likely to experience short-term physical dependence upon the drug, but this is not considered a long term solution. A heroin user who goes through withdrawals will often feel the urge to repeat their previous behaviors, which often include taking larger doses of Heroin to achieve the same results as before. If the user goes through a deep enough stage of Heroin addiction, withdrawal can cause a person to feel physically dependent upon the drug, which increases their need for the drug and leads to their use of larger doses and increased severity of withdrawal symptoms. Heroin users who use their bodies as a source of comfort and rely on their drug for relief from pain and discomfort, or those who abuse large amounts over a lengthy period of time may become physically dependent on Heroin, and are at increased risk for overdose, coronary artery disease, or pulmonary embolism. If you are concerned that a friend or loved one may be suffering from any form of addiction, please contact a trained addiction specialist or medical health care provider for additional information.