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Adult Heroin Abuse

Heroin is a narcotic and addicting stimulant.  Drug abuse treatment centers are finding that heroin is making a disturbing comeback.

The 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health by SAMHSA (The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services), reports a bigger jump in heroin use by young adults, ages 18-26, than any other age group, and a significant increase of use in all age groups.

The study also shows that dependence on heroin also doubled between 2007 and 2010. Government agencies suggest there is likely a correlation between the increasing difficulty of adults to obtain a long-term supply of opioid painkillers and the increase of heroin use.

Consumers are finding it increasingly difficult to “doctor shop” for prescription pain pills. Opioid pain pill abuse can then easily transition to heroin use, as state governments crack down on “pain pill mills” and doctors are more reluctant to prescribe long-term opioids.  The use of heroin was once associated with men on the street, but no longer. Suburban women and adults of every socio-economic background have turned to heroin.

Heroin is easy to obtain and is relatively cheap, flowing in from Mexico along the same pipelines as methamphetamines. Longtime users believe it gives them an energy supply to go about their daily tasks, but need to keep that supply chain going, while others are rendered almost catatonic. The drug is powerful, dangerous and addictive.

What is heroin?
Heroin is as dangerous as it is highly addictive. It is an opiate derived from morphine, which is a substance extracted from certain poppy plants and then processed.  Heroin is the most rapidly acting and addictive of all opiate drugs.

Heroin becomes addictive after continued or even short-term use, and people who are addicted to it take up to four hits a day, usually intravenously. Heroin also can be taken by snorting, sniffing and smoking.

What makes heroin so dangerous?
Heroin is a street drug that may easily be taken in overdose because it is appearing in more pure forms and is widely available. People who take these street drugs have no idea what the actual content level of the heroin is, so they can easily overdose or even die.

People take heroin long-term because they are addicted to it, and withdrawal symptoms can begin shortly after the last hit was taken.

Users take heroin to experience:

  • Pain suppression
  • A “rush” of euphoria

Withdrawal and negative short-term effects of heroin use:
Even short-term use can have fatal effects with overdose or if used by a person in poor health.

  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Pain
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea

Health consequences of heroin use include:

  • Contracting hepatitis B or C from shared needles
  • Permanent damage to vital organs
  • Depressing effects on the respiratory system
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Collapsed veins
  • Spontaneous abortion
  • Arthritis and rheumatoid conditions
  • Severe weight loss and poor hygiene
  • Heart conditions

Treatment for heroin addiction:
Medical detox is necessary.  Holistic rehab may include medications and will include such therapies as cognitive behavioral therapies and gender-specific rehab. Relapse prevention may include continuing care after primary rehab.

Street names for heroin are numerous and include:

  • Dope
  • Horse
  • H
  • Heron
  • Big H
  • Black Eagle
  • Brown
  • Brown Crystal Lady
  • Snow
  • Snowball
  • White Bay
  • Number 4
  • Number 8
  • Number 3
  • China White

There are also many combinations of heroin and other drugs such as meth, cocaine, morphine, LSD, MSMA and cold medications. They go by a variety of corresponding nicknames which include:

  • Atom bomb
  • The Five Way
  • White Lady
  • Beast
  • Belushi
  • Canada
  • Woo-woo
  • Cheese
  • Meth speedball