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Read our articles and news stories so you get educated on drugs and addiction. More knowledge puts you into better control of any situation.
A little girl stood at the window of her apartment in Washington, D.C. She was watching a lady staggering up the street. The woman she watched had straggly hair hanging down around her face. Her skin was wrinkled and covered with sores. She finally could not walk anymore and began to crawl. She turned into the front sidewalk of a building and crawled toward a man standing on the steps, one arm outstretched. The man yelled at her to go away.
The little girl called her mother. “Mama, what’s wrong with that lady?” she asked.
“She is a heroin addict,” said her mother. She is trying to either get more drugs or she is begging for money so she can get more drugs.” The little girl’s mother explained what addiction was to the best of her ability. That little girl knew then that heroin addiction had horrible consequences.
Heroin, that dangerously addictive drug, has many harmful effects on the body and mind. Family and friends of an addict know well the changes they see in their loved one through the use and abuse of heroin. It destroys lives. It alters appearance. It causes death. Knowing the effects, someone can recognize the dangers and strengthen their resolve to help their loved one. If an addict reads this, he is looking for help. Seeing the current and future effects of this drug, he may realize he must turn to someone for assistance in coming off this destructive drug.
With a life consumed of searching for that next fix, the heroin user does not take care of himself. They fail to have any attention on their own health and well-being. This contributes to the downward spiral of illness and depression. The cravings for more of the drug become all-important, and everything else is neglected. They forget how to live a drug-free life.
The effects of heroin depend somewhat on how the drug is consumed. Smoking, injecting and snorting all have different effects on the body. Also the quality of the drug purchased makes a difference, as some heroin is “cut” with other substances – sometimes poisons.
Obviously, the pleasurable rush one feels when taking heroin is the short-term effect that addicts search for – actually NEED. Addicts feel a warm flush, their mouth becomes dry and they may feel heavy in the extremities. However, other effects include slowed breathing, poor mental function and nausea and vomiting. Once the rush has passed, the user will get drowsy and sleepy, sometimes nodding off. His heart function will slow down.
Other consequences of heroin use are:
If a person has taken too much and overdosed, he may go into a coma, his skin will feel cold and clammy and he may have convulsions. He can easily die when overdosing. Time is short and health care workers must administer a life-saving drug called naloxone before death comes.
Anyone who has observed the lifestyle of a heroin addict sees many physical changes over time. The addict’s diet is normally very bad, as they lose interest in eating. The person will have a severe deficiency in nutrients and become haggard and thin. Lacking a good diet leads to other problems as well.
Some of the long-term effects include:
>Inflammation of the heart
When the heroin user injects the drug, they often share needles and thus risk getting HIV, hepatitis and other diseases. These diseases can progress dangerously when not treated, and can lead to death. Those who use black tar heroin can get an infection called necrotizing fasciitis which kills tissue. This infection comes from the components with which this type of heroin is made, including instant coffee, burned cornstarch and even dirt.
The medical complications of heroin use are quite scary. Collapsed veins, infections and liver disease are just a few health risks from chronic heroin use. Pneumonia and tuberculosis are common due to the heroin having bad effects on respiration. Kidney disease also occurs because of the additives in the heroin. Immune reactions can result in rheumatologic problems. The reduced blood flow in the body can result in organ damage.
When someone is using heroin, over time it changes the brain. The opiates pass through the blood barrier in the brain, and it stimulates certain receptors within that organ. However, as this occurs, some receptors are actually destroyed. Whether this is permanent or not has not been reported. However, anything which changes the brain cannot be good. Our brain was developed to function a certain way. When the brain can no longer function in the way it is supposed to, the difficulties coming from that cannot fully be determined at this time.
When an addict wishes to stop taking heroin and does so for even a few hours, withdrawal symptoms kick in. He will feel restless, get cold sweats and muscle pains. He won’t be able to sleep. He may get diarrhea and vomiting. These symptoms peak between one to two days from the last dose. However, it takes a week before the symptoms quit manifesting. Sometimes those who have stopped taking heroin feel the symptoms for months afterwards.
Withdrawal symptoms can be very severe and really require help to come off the drug. Some of the serious withdrawal symptoms include:
>Heart rate increase
A person who is addicted to heroin can find effective help. Despite this drug being so addictive, it is possible to come off it and even to reduce further cravings for the drug. A family needs to alleviate the nightmare they are living when a family member is a heroin addict. We can help. Even when an addict refuses any efforts to help them, we can get him or her to admit the problem and agree to seek help in most cases. We will find the right drug rehab for your loved one and get him on the road to a life without drugs right now.