Heroin, The Most Abused Drug

Heroin, an opioid prescribed as an analgesic, cough suppressant and as an anti-diarrheal, is also the most abused drug for its highly euphoric properties. Its abuse has reached the stage of epidemic in the United States where heroin use has more than doubled among young adults aged 18-25 in the past decade.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Heroin use has increased across the U.S. among men and women, most age groups, and all income levels.” While commenting on dire consequences of heroin abuse, the report further states, “As heroin use has increased, so have heroin-related overdose deaths. Between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled when more than 8,200 people died in 2013.”

How dangerous is heroin?

Heroin is an illegal and immensely addictive opioid drug. In case of an overdose, it may lead to slow and shallow breathing, resulting in coma and death. The habit of using heroin in conjunction with other drugs or alcohol is even more dangerous because it multiplies the risk of overdose. Though heroin is normally injected, it is also smoked or snorted. When people inject heroin, they become exposed to long-term viral infections such as HIV, Hepatitis C, and Hepatitis B, as well as bacterial infections of the skin, bloodstream and heart.

The country is already at the threshold of a gnawing addiction problem and heroin is a major contributor to this menace. However, it is commendable what the federal government is doing towards eradicating heroin abuse from the society. A few lauded steps initiated by the federal government are:

Educating and providing resources to healthcare providers and guiding towards appropriate prescribing of opioid painkillers.
Promoting prescription drug monitoring programs as a regular part in clinical practices.
Implementing the Affordable Care Act to provide access to substance abuse treatment services.
Lending support to the development and distribution of naloxone (a life-saving drug), to reduce heroin overdose deaths.
Improvising surveillance mechanism for better tracking of trends, to identify communities at risk and target prevention strategies, etc.

While the federal government is doing its bit, addressing the heroin pandemic needs an effort from everyone in the society ranging from the state, to health workers, to institutions and individuals. Rehab facilities like the drug rehabilitation centers are also contributing by treating addicts throughout and helping millions to beat addiction and get on with life. The drug addiction treatment centers are counted among the best in the country.

Who are at risk of heroin addiction?

It is not difficult to list many well-known people who have had a dangerous liaison with heroin addiction and paid the price. Some of the names include Robert F. Kennedy, Russell Brand, Miles Davis, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, and the list is endless. Although anyone can get hooked on heroin, some are more susceptible and at a greater risk. The CDC identifies the following as prone to heroin addiction more than others:

People who are addicted to prescription opioid painkillers
People who are addicted to cocaine
People without insurance or enrolled in Medicaid
Non-Hispanic whites
Males
People who are addicted to marijuana and alcohol
People living in a large metropolitan area and
18- to 25-year-olds.

So, if you or a loved one is addicted to heroin, step up immediately before any mishap takes place and it results in a tragic end. Heroin addiction, when intervened timely, can be cured and there can be complete recovery for a person.