The Epidemic of Heroin Abuse in the US Today
The past few years have shown us that heroin abuse has skyrocketed. With reports from the Center for Disease Control indicating that the amount of heroin deaths have doubled between the year 2010 and 2012, the complexity with this harmful drug is a deadly problem.
Heroin Abuse and the Signs that Mark the Abuser
Heroin is an opioid drug that is created from morphine. Morphine is a natural substance that comes out of the seed pods of the poppy opium plant. Heroin is seen as a white powder or brown powder. It can also appear as a sticky black substance. This type is usually called “black tar heroin.”
The problem comes around when this drug is used and abused by heroin addicts. From there, the abuse and effects of heroin can produce a person into a downward spiral.
There are several ways that heroin is used. It can be injected, inhaled or smoked. Each way can deliver the drug to the brain incredibly quickly. When the drug arrives in the brain, it changes to morphine again. That is what gives the abuser the rush of euphoric feelings that keep them coming back to the drug over and over again.
Some of the symptoms of heroin abuse that a drug user will experience may include the following:
- Having dry mouth
- Constricted pupils
- Very tired appearance
- Quick change in actions or behaviors
- Feeling disoriented
- Being very alert at one moment and very drowsy the next moment
- Experiencing shortness of breath
Not every symptom a person experiences from the above list will be indicative of heroin abuse. However, it’s common to find a heroin abuser with some of the following items:
- Syringes and needles
- Gum wrappers with burn marks
- Aluminum foil with burn marks
- Missing shoelaces on their shoes
- Silver spoons that are burned
- Straws with burn marks
How Heroin Affects an Individual
Heroin can cause people to act differently. A person you once you knew could seem quite unlike the person you knew before.
Here are some of the behavioral signs that will indicate someone is a heroin abuser:
- Avoiding eye contact
- Increasing their need for sleep
- Slurring and speaking incoherently
- Stopping a hobby or activity they once enjoyed
- Stealing or borrowing money from friends and family
- Feeling unmotivated to reach their goals
- Lacking the attention needed to take care of physical appearance
- Dressing in long sleeves and long pants, no matter what the season
- Becoming very angry with a friend of family member for breaking a commitment
When heroin users continue using the drug more and more frequently, they can build a tolerance to its results. This leads to using more of the drug and consuming it more often than before. An observer can notice the abuser’s weight loss, consistent runny nose, and marks on their arms. Infections may also appear near the injection site. You may be able to see cuts, scabs, and bruises on their arms. Women may even lose their menstrual cycle due to heroin abuse.
A Public Health Crisis Continues
Studies have shown that 3,036 people have died from heroin poisoning. This stark number has many people worried about how people become heroin addicts.
This isn’t exactly a recent phenomenon. The United States Attorney General Eric Holder has called heroin use an “urgent public health crisis.” This comes from statistics that state an increase in overdose deaths from the harmful drug that occurred between the year 2006 and 2010.
Specialists believe that the drastic increase in heroin abusers are due to the crack down on prescription drugs. Pain pills aren’t as easy to obtain as they once were. Many believe that the lower price of heroin makes them the better drug of choice for some.
Loved Ones Speak Out
Some heroin abusers report that they feel in constant opposition to the people they love. In between their heroin injection sessions, they fight with others over a multitude of things. This leaves loved ones feeling helpless and worried.
It’s estimated that around 300,000 to 500,000 heroin addicts are in the United States. This number shows that many families from a multitude of backgrounds are struggling with a deadly problem every day.
When people learn to spot the signs of heroin abuse, loved ones can help addicts when they are hurting. For some addicts, an overdose that takes their life can come too quickly. That’s why it’s important to help a heroin addict as soon as possible.
Support is Necessary
Making changes to stop heroin abuse can very challenging. However, when an abuser is getting the support and tools they need to overcome this addiction, they can make the steps toward recovery.
At a heroin rehabilitation center, a heroin addict can have help managing their intense withdrawal symptoms safely. Having counselors and specialists who are well acquainted with this deadly drug can make a heroin abuser feel more at ease as they overcome their addiction.