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Heroin: The Addictive Drug

     In recent years, a dangerous heroin
epidemic has developed within the United States. Heroin is a habit-forming opioid
that can be commonly laced with other addictive drugs, such as cocaine or
fentanyl. Heroin can come in the form of a white or brown powder or a black,
sticky substance which is made from morphine and derived from the seeds of
opium poppy plants (NIDA, 2018). In the 1898, a German pharmaceutical company
produced heroin in attempt to treat tuberculosis and to use it as a less addicting
alternative to morphine; although heroin turned out be more addictive than
morphine (Foundation for a Drug-Free World, n.d.). Heroin is still used today,
but for recreational use instead of medical.

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      A user who is addicted to heroin will continuously
use the drug for a long period of time. When consistently using heroin, or when
used in high doses, heroin can be fatal. When a user overdoses on heroin, their
breathing will decrease or stop while the amount of oxygen their brain receives
decreases (NIDA, 2018). If caught in time, a heroin overdose can be treated
using Naloxone; Naloxone will attach to opioid receptors and block the opioid’s
effects (NIDA, 2018). When a user consistently uses heroin over a long span of
time, they will start to become dependent on the drug, as well as developing a
tolerance for it. This can be disastrous since it will lead to the user needing
a larger dose of heroin to feel the desired effects, which can eventually lead
to an overdose. A user with an addiction and dependency to heroin will continue
using due to their compulsion to use the drug, despite any adverse
consequences. If a user who is addicted attempts to stop using the drug, they
will go through withdrawal. The withdrawal symptoms will be symptoms that are
opposite of what the drug causes. For example, since heroin is an opioid, it is
meant to ease and stop pain, so a user suffering from withdrawal may experience
intense muscle and bone pain. Other symptoms of withdrawal from heroin include
cold flashes with the shivers, uncontrollable leg movements, and vomiting and
diarrhea (NIDA, 2018). Heroin is also a dangerous drug based on the ways it can
be taken; heroin can be injected, snorted, smoked, or sniffed. Heroin is most
commonly injected into a vein using a needle, but if the user injects heroin
with a shared or unsanitary needle, they are at a high risk for contacting
diseases and infections, such as Hepatitis or HIV. An addiction to heroin does
not need to end in death by an overdose; there are treatment options to stop
the addiction and use of heroin. These treatment options include various
medicines and behavioral therapy. Certain medicines, such as buprenorphine and
methadone, “work by binding to the same opioid receptors in the brain as
heroin, but more weakly, reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms” (NIDA,
2018). Whereas behavioral therapy “helps modify the patient’s drug-use
expectations and behaviors, and helps effectively manage triggers and stress”
(NIDA, 2018). A combination of medicines and behavioral therapy is the most
effective treatment to help stop the use of heroin.

      Heroin is a drug with addiction liability
that can produce dependency and cause withdrawal symptoms when a user tries to
quit. Within the United States, there has been a recent and dramatic increase
of deaths due to overdoses of heroin, also known as the heroin epidemic. Despite
a user becoming addicted to heroin, it does not ensure they will die form an
overdose; there are treatment options to recover from addiction and Naloxone to
help survive an overdose. Heroin is a lethal, addicting opioid drug manufactures
in the late 1800’s that can cause dependency, addiction, and even death to its


for a Drug-Free World. (n.d). The Truth
About Heroin. Retrieved from
on 2018, January 26


(2018, January 17). Heroin. Retrieved
on 2018, January 26

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