The main thing to know right off the bat is that heroin is an opioid. Being in the throes of an opioid epidemic in this country for the last couple of decades, we are all far too aware of the damage this class of drugs can impart, unfortunately.
From 1999 to 2018, nearly a half million people, around 450,000, died from an opioid overdose. Absolutely catastrophic losses with the number of deaths actually 4 times higher in 2018 than in 1999 still.
But that’s all opioids, what about heroin specifically?
The numbers are pretty startling, more than 115,000 Americans have died from overdoses related to heroin from 1999 to 2018. As recently as 2017, 652,000 Americans suffered from a heroin use disorder and the number of first-time users was 170,000 in 2016 compared with “just” 90,000 in 2006.
Just based on those figures and the sheer scale of death these drugs can rain, it should be readily apparent that it’s a profoundly dangerous substance to find yourself in the grips of.
Fortunately, and mercifully, some of these figures have started to level off and even began to decline in recent years though they remain troublingly high.
The thing is, opioids serve an actual medical purpose while heroin is a completely illegal, illicit drug and a disconcerting amount of people transition from opioids to heroin. 4 to 6% to be exact and add to that that 80% of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids and you can see why we address them together.
What Is Heroin?
Let’s rewind though real quick and discover what heroin actually is, as per the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
“Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive drug processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of certain varieties of poppy plants. It is typically sold as a white or brownish powder that is “cut” with sugars, starch, powdered milk, or quinine. Pure heroin is a white powder with a bitter taste that predominantly originated in South America and, to a lesser extent, from Southeast Asia, and dominates U.S. markets east of the Mississippi River”
It can be injected, snorted or smoked, all of which create a reaction in the brain extremely quickly and adds to the addictive nature of the drug.
Why Is Heroin Addictive?
In addition to being fast-acting, heroin packs a powerful punch. It’s converted to morphine and quickly binds to opioid receptors. This creates a rush of pleasure for the user that they begin to crave essentially immediately. Working on the reward system, the brain continuously asks for more and more heroin to match that initial feel and experience.
As you take more, tolerance starts to build so reaching that high or achieving that same rush requires ever more of the drug which is where the risk of overdose creeps in.
Your brain is fundamentally being rewired to go after these feel-good chemicals and ultimately the way out for many is heroin addiction rehab.
How to Find Heroin Addiction Help
Heroin addiction help is just a phone call away but we’ll get to that in a second.
Help is important with something as potent as heroin because of the potency of the drug and its highly addictive nature. As a nation, we’ve watched in horror the damage that opioids have wrought on our communities and the gargantuan effort it has taken to slowly start turning it around for individuals. Given that heroin is in the same family it’s clear that we need to tackle it just as vigorously.
At Principles Recovery Center we’re well equipped to bring you or your loved one back from the brink. Give us a call and let’s talk about getting your life back.