Why Heroin Abuse Is So Dangerous
When we think of drug abuse, there are several drugs that immediately come to mind as being exceptionally dangerous. One of those drugs is heroin. It is a powerful opiate, the use of which can lead to addiction, severe medical conditions and even death. The reasons that heroin is so incredibly dangerous has to do with several factors, including:
- How it is used
- The effect it has on the brain of the user
- The lengths that people will go to get it
- The great difficulty associated with quitting
Understanding the risk factors are important for anyone interested in seeking help for a loved one who is currently addicted to heroin.
How Is Heroin Ingested?
Injecting heroin is one preferred method for taking the drug that offers its own dangers. The drug is liquefied through a process known as “freebasing.” The liquid heroin is pulled into a syringe and injected directly into the blood stream. Sharing and reuse of needles are common during this practice. This sharing of needles can easily spread blood-borne diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis from one addict to another.
Another form of heroin use is snorting or sniffing. Finally, heroin may be smoked.
The Effect of Heroin on the Brain
The human body contains opiate receptors throughout the anatomy. Some of these opiate receptors control pleasure, pain and emotional reward. These are the receptors that an opiate addict is trying to engage when they use heroin. Pain is reduced and the brain offers a new sense of pleasure or euphoria. This is the “high” that drug users find as a result of the drugs they ingest.
There are other opiate receptors in the brain stem that control involuntary functions such as blood pressure and breathing. When an individual uses heroin, the drug is converted to morphine which attaches to all opiate receptors, including those that control something as simple as breathing. There is no way to know how much heroin will cause these receptors to overload and cease operating at any given time.
The Lengths to Which an Addict Will Go to Obtain Heroin
Because of the highly addictive nature of opiates like heroin, an individual suffering from addiction will go to great lengths to obtain either the drug or the cash to buy drugs. The addict may engage in risky behavior like prostitution or armed robbery, placing their lives in danger. Even if they have enough money through legal means, they can place themselves in harm’s way simply by visiting locations that are rife with violence and corrosive illegal activity to obtain their drugs.
The Difficulty Associated With Quitting
In order to successfully stop using heroin, many addicts must receive long-term rehab services. Even then, the chance of relapse still exists. Because of the fear that they will be unsuccessful, some addicts are afraid to try to improve their lives. Others are fearful that they will be deprived of a drug they feel they need to survive from day to day. This mentality is dangerous because every time an addict refuses to try, they place themselves at risk of the other dangerous factors.
It is possible to stop using heroin with the help of trained, experienced professionals. The dangers of heroin use can be greatly reduced simply by taking the first step towards recovery.