The opioid epidemic continues to take a toll on the country’s health system with new changes occurring every day. About five decades ago, most of the people who used heroin were usually teenagers who started abusing the drugs around the age of 16. Most of these teenagers came from low-income neighborhoods, and when they were introduced to drugs, heroin was their first choice.
More than five decades later, the opioid epidemic has taken an interesting turn. Most of those who use heroin start at around 23 years, and they are mostly living in leafy suburbs and not low-income neighborhoods like was the case fifty years ago. Most of these people were unknowingly led to opioids through painkillers prescribed by their doctors.
Heroin Versus FDA-Approved Opioids
Heroin belongs to a group of sedatives known as opiates. Drugs in this class are known to suppress some functions of the nervous system such as respiration, heartbeat, blood pressure and body temperatures. These drugs bind to opioid receptors in the brain where they suppress the sensation of pain, anxiety, and depression.
Most of the individuals are lured to heroin abuse through painkillers. While heroin is an illegal drug, other opioids such as oxycontin have been approved by the FDA. Both heroin and oxycontin come from poppy plant and they have almost similar effects in the body. Besides, there are other synthetic opioids like fentanyl designed to produce the same effects as heroin.
All the opioids, including heroin, oxycontin, and synthetic opioids produce a sense of euphoria, pain tolerance, drowsiness, and occasional nausea and lack of appetite. These drugs also trigger tolerance- where an individual need to take a larger dose for the same effect. That is why most pain killer addicts turn to heroin when pain pills are no longer available.
Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Using Heroin
Most of the people abuse heroin for its short-term sedative effects. But with time, you will need to take an extra dose of the drug for the same effect. Besides helping you to relax, heroin will also result in slowed breathing, cloudy thinking, dry mouth, drowsiness, nausea and vomiting, reduced body temperature, and skin flushing and warmth.
As you keep using the drug, more severe and long-term effects on the body begin to kick in. They include damage to the heart, loss of memory, brain damage, loss of appetite leading to malnutrition, liver and kidney disease, the risk of respiratory illness and weakened muscle function and possible paralysis.
Withdrawing from Heroin
Once you have been entrapped in heroin addiction, it isn’t easy to get out on your own. The medical and psychological symptoms associated with heroin withdrawal can be severe and life-threatening. Learn more at sites like http://westcoastrecoverycenters.com/addiction-types/heroin/.
Withdrawing from heroin can produce severe symptoms such as muscle spasms, diarrhea, agitation, vomiting, muscle and bone aches, impaired respiration, rapid heart rate, and hypertension. Other symptoms such as depression may prompt an individual to consider suicide or even harming other people. Heroin addicts should never suddenly withdrawal from the drug without the help of a professional to manage the symptoms that may arise.