During the evening I answer “calls” on our website. It’s a chat service and the topics can be on subjects like drug addiction, alcoholism and mental illness. During the last two weeks, about 7 out of 10 inquiries are as follows: “I have a 20 (something) year old son or daughter – addicted to heroin – what can I do”? This surprises me. Why are so many 20 something year olds using this drug?
What I know — in general, people begin taking drugs for a variety of reasons like:
- To feel good.
- To relieve suffering from anxiety, stress or depression,
- To do better, in an activity or social situation.
- Curiosity and “because others are doing it.”
I don’t fully understand the socio-economic trends that are
contributing to the heroin epidemic. However, I realize that the laws have tightened, regarding prescription opiates. Stricter laws to tend to cause some people, who are in pain, to turn to illegals measures. That said, I suspect there are a multitudes of reasons people are using this drug.
Is someone in your life using Heroin?
A heroin addiction may be difficult to speak about with a loved one. People who suffer from addiction are frequently not honest about their substance abuse. However, discussing heroin addiction could be a life-saving conversation. In order to discover the truth and really understand the depth of the problem, you may need to be a bit nosey. Identifying the signs of heroin addiction can be the first step toward your, or someone else’s, recovery.
Understanding the devices a person needs to use the drug and what it actually looks like can help you identify heroin use. In most cases, a heroin user needs certain paraphernalia items in order to actually consume the drug. Heroin can be injected, snorted, or smoked. Needles, pipes, and spoons with lighters are often used. Damaged veins are difficult to inject, so some addicts need to use rubber tubing or elastic bands to make their veins larger.
Heroin itself is a powdery, crumbly substance. It’s often off-white, but its color can range from white to dark brown. Black tar heroin gets its name from the way it looks. This type is a black, sticky substance.
Lifestyle Changes Caused by Heroin Addiction
A heroin addiction may be hard to identify at first. Over time, however, the addiction becomes more real and all-encompassing. A person who is addicted to heroin will soon worry more about getting their next dose than almost anything else.
Heroin injections cause needle marks, so many addicts wear long-sleeve clothing year round in order to hide their scars. Fearing their addiction will be revealed, heroin addicts may become withdrawn from friends and family members. Social and personal isolation is common among addicts. Work and personal relationships may also suffer. An addict may also have trouble with health and personal hygiene.
Medical Effects of Heroin Addiction
Heroin is a powerful opioid that can cause dangerous complications. Sometimes these complications can be life-threatening.
For example, heroin use can cause miscarriage. Some people may contract infectious diseases from needle use, such as HIV and hepatitis. A fatal overdose is also possible.
Long-term heroin use damages organs, the brain, and the skin. Addicts may develop kidney, liver, or heart disease because of their drug use. Additives in heroin may coagulate or clog blood vessels and veins. This can lead to strokes and permanent organ damage. Some additives are deadly and can kill a person within minutes. Unfortunately, it’s often impossible to tell what has been mixed with heroin unless you conduct tests. Many illegal drugs, such as heroin, are laced with dangerous substances that are only identified after a tragic accident.
Babies born to heroin addicts are often underweight. If the mother is using while pregnant, the baby may be born physically addicted to heroin, too. If this happens, the child may experience neonatal abstinence syndrome. The infant will need to detox and go through withdrawal after birth.
Getting Help for an Addiction
If you’re addicted to heroin and need help, reach out to a loved one or a doctor you can trust. They can help you find treatment facilities, medical help, and addiction experts who can help you get clean.
The first step to getting better is admitting you have a problem. Kicking your habit may not happen the first time you try it. Some people require multiple attempts before it finally lasts. However, determination and dedication can go along way to helping you—and the people you love—heal and move toward a happier, healthier life.