Heroin abuse is a growing problem in the United States. In fact, heroin use has increased by nearly 200 percent in the last decade. It’s easy to understand why someone might find this drug appealing: It’s cheap and widely available, and it’s also very potent.
Heroin is an opioid drug, meaning it’s a psychoactive substance that targets the same brain receptors that are activated by other opioids like morphine and codeine.
The abuse of heroin has been steadily increasing in recent years because many people are unaware of its tragic consequences. Users may think that because it’s synthetic it can’t be as dangerous as other drugs like cocaine or marijuana. But the dangers of heroin are overlooked by people who think they know what they are getting – especially if they believe it’s just another opioid like morphine or codeine.
There are many signs of heroin addiction, but recognizing them requires an understanding of how this drug affects the user. Here are some basic facts about heroin abuse its effects, signs of heroin addiction, and the treatment options available.
Physical Signs of Heroin Addiction
The physical signs of heroin abuse can be more noticeable than the behavioral ones. Some of the most common signs of heroin addiction physically include:
- Changes in appetite: A person who is abusing heroin may eat less, or they may start eating more. In rare cases, someone who abuses heroin may eat so much they develop a kind of eating disorder known as hyperphagia.
- Changes in sleeping habits: A person who has become dependent on heroin may sleep more or less than normal. They may also develop a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, insomnia, or restless leg syndrome.
- Changes in weight: Whether an individual gains or loses weight depends on a variety of factors. Someone who abuses heroin may gain or lose weight as a result of changes in their appetite, sleep patterns, and metabolism. –
- Track marks: Some people inject heroin and leave telltale marks on their arms or legs. The marks look like scabs from insect bites where the drug was injected.
- Infection: People who inject heroin are at higher risk of contracting bacterial infections, such as staph, as well as viral infections, such as hepatitis. –
- Strong smell: The smell of raw heroin isn’t pleasant, but it becomes even more pungent when it’s smoked or snorted.
Mental and Cognitive Effects of Heroin Abuse
Heroin abuse can also have a negative impact on someone’s mood and mental state. When someone is abusing this drug, they may feel sad or depressed or experience feelings of anxiety or paranoia.
In some cases, a person who abuses this drug may experience hallucinations or delusions. A person who abuses heroin may also have trouble concentrating or focusing on tasks. This might make it harder to complete work or school assignments, or it might make it more difficult to handle simple tasks like driving.
Final Words – Is Heroin Abuse Treatable
Because heroin is an opioid, it can be treated with another opioid drug like methadone or buprenorphine. Some people may also receive naltrexone, which works by blocking the effects of opioid drugs.
Individual and group therapy can also help people address the root cause of their addiction. In some cases, people may participate in a rehab program that includes treatment with a drug like methadone or buprenorphine. This can help them overcome their dependence on heroin and stay clean, even when they return to everyday activities.