Heroin is a substance of mystery to many, assumptions are made, facts become lost in waves of rumor and common beliefs are misconceived as absolute truths. When dealing with substances of such a dangerous nature, word-of-mouth ‘facts’ simply do not convey enough real information to deal with usage and exposure effectively. Through research, heroin and many other drugs can be demystified, providing a rich source of knowledge and enough information to make informed choices in regard to consumption. After all, although drug usage can be discouraged, it can not and will not be avoided by the world’s population in its entirety.
Heroin is a part of the opiate family, along with morphine and opium. Although morphine can be prescribed by physicians as a high-tier method of pain control, an opiate used illegally or recreationally is referred to as “heroin”.
It comes as no surprise to an informed member of society, but heroin is a severely addictive Class A drug capable of destroying both body and mind, tearing apart consumers’ lives in the process. Seducing would-be consumers with the promise of pure euphoria, heroin offers enticing effects that shallowly hide dangerous qualities. Alongside intense addiction coupled with severe withdrawal symptoms, irresponsible usage can lead to contractions of various infectious diseases, the most common being HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Arthritis is also commonly associated with prolonged heroin consumption, as are collapsed veins and various cardiovascular problems.
A common misconception associated with heroin is the belief that addiction is immediate (or nearly immediate), when in truth, addiction and dependence only develops after continuous use. Injection and inhalation are the most common methods of heroin abuse, with injection often occurring later in the stages of addiction. Smoking heroin and popping pills are the most common starting points; injection is the preferred method of chronic abusers looking for the drug to take effect as quickly as possible. One of the most dangerous aspects of heroin is the addiction process. At first, consumption leaves little to no adverse effects. Initially, users often find themselves in a perfectly functional state with no craving or withdrawal the morning after a dosage, immediately prompting continuous use because of the lack of detrimental effects. Continued usage leads to addiction and, more importantly, the withdrawal effects of not taking the drug.
Once dependent, withdrawal tends to start between six and 12 hours after the last dosage, with symptoms lasting as long as a full week. However, some consumers have reported continued symptoms lasting for weeks or months. This period of extended symptoms has become known as post acute withdrawal syndrome.
Symptoms of heroin withdrawal range from person to person, and individual experiences can vary greatly. Common symptoms reported include violent mood changes, aches and pains, diarrhea and nausea, depression and restlessness. A curious withdrawal symptom noted is an excess of bodily fluids; consumers’ bodies may experience an excessive overproduction of tears and sweat, as well as a runny nose.
As a severely prohibited substance, possession of heroin can lead to steep fines and extended incarceration time. A first offense charge can result in up to a year in prison or a fine of up to $1,000, while repeated offenders can be sentenced with even more jail time and fines higher than $5,000.
Because of its forbidden nature and truthful promise of euphoria, heroin is an enticing substance surrounded by misconception. However, the euphoric state only lasts so long, and once a consumer’s funds are depleted or access to the substance ceases, the agonizing withdrawal symptoms of heroin are a steep price to pay. Even if one manages to financially sustain their addiction through physical and mental side effects, dependence on the drug can lead to the ruined life of not only the consumer, but those connected to him or her as well.
By Christopher White