During the last decade, the opioid epidemic has raged out of control in the U.S. While most of our attention has focused on prescription painkiller abuse, illicit heroin has continued its deadly march across the nation. But, despite heroin’s longevity as a popular addictive drug, few people know the real risks of heroin abuse.
Sadly, the lack of knowledge about the dangers of heroin has resulted in many thousands of heroin overdose deaths in recent years. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there were 13,165 fatal heroin overdoses in 2020. This shocking statistic highlights the increasing need for heroin prevention and education campaigns nationwide.
Why is Heroin So Popular?
One aspect of heroin’s popularity has to do with availability and low cost. In recent years, many legitimate opioid users have switched to heroin because it is cheaper than their prescription painkillers. Some of these individuals are senior citizens who live on a fixed income. The ever-increasing prescription costs are beyond their budgets.
The same situation holds true for illicit opioid users. Individuals who are addicted to opioids such as OxyContin, Hydrocodone, or morphine often switch to heroin due to its lower prices. Also, individuals who abuse prescription drugs are having trouble getting the amount they need due to tighter governmental restrictions. Heroin is the go-to drug in these instances.
Why Should I Be Worried About Heroin Dangers?
An emerging trend among street dealers today involves lacing drugs such as heroin with cheaper alternatives such as fentanyl. Heroin users should be very worried about this practice. They won’t realize the heroin they purchased contains deadly fentanyl. As a result, thousands of fatal overdoses occur every year.
Even without the presence of fentanyl, heroin itself is a deadly substance. Repeated or prolonged use can cause a host of severe side effects. Many of the effects are permanent.
What Are the Side Effects of Prolonged Heroin Use?
The side effects of heroin differ from person to person. But, the symptoms get worse with prolonged use, regardless of how mild they may have been at first. One of the main risks of heroin use is that many people use it combined with other drugs.
After prolonged heroin use, a person will experience side effects that reduce their quality of life and some may be life-threatening.
Side effects of prolonged heroin use can include:
- Scarred, collapsed veins
- Reduced mental functioning
- Skin abscesses around injection sites
- HIV or Hepatitis B and C
- Chronic pneumonia
- Respiratory issues
- Liver or kidney disease
- Seizures, heart attack, stroke
If these symptoms sound scary, that’s the point. Hopefully, fear of these side effects will convince you to avoid heroin or seek treatment if you are actively using the drug. The most frightening side effect of heroin is the risk of overdose.
How to Know if Someone Overdosed on Heroin
Would you know if someone you hang out with has overdosed on heroin? You can watch for the common warning signs of overdose. But, keep in mind that these symptoms can progress quickly. If you suspect an overdose, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention.
Common signs of heroin overdose include:
- Pale skin or blue-tinged lips or nails
- Trouble breathing
- Weak pulse
- Pinprick pupils
- Nausea and vomiting
- Poor coordination
If someone is unresponsive after using heroin, call 911 right away and stay with the person until help arrives. Try to turn the person on their right side to prevent aspiration. Don’t try to rouse the person by slapping, shouting, or dousing them with cold water. You could do more harm than good.
When the individual has recovered from the overdose, they should enter a drug rehabilitation facility right away. If you are close to the individual, try to convince them to seek treatment and arrange an intervention if necessary. The goal is to keep them from returning to their heroin use and putting themselves at further risk of heroin abuse complications.
Seek Help for Heroin Addiction at Design for Change Recovery
The real risk of heroin abuse is needless death. Do you want to put your life in the hands of an unscrupulous dealer who doesn’t care about your wellbeing? Of course, you don’t. But, heroin addiction will put you in that position time after time.
To put an end to heroin addiction and the constant threat to your life, get professional treatment right away. Contact us at Design for Change Recovery and let us help you turn your life around.
At Design for Change Recovery, you’ll progress through a carefully customized treatment plan that is right for your situation. We hire only the most qualified and compassionate professionals to help you gain the skills, confidence, and motivation to remain drug-free for life.
Contact us today to learn more about our evidence-based, effective treatment programs. At Design for Change in Lancaster, CA, you will find freedom from the dreadful addiction to heroin.
- nida.nih.gov – Overdose Death Rates