Heroin is an extremely hazardous drug that’s responsible for numerous deaths every year. It’s also a common form of drug addiction.
Heroin Overdoses Can Be Lethal
Heroin depresses the central nervous system. This causes a slowing of all the body’s organ systems. An individual could overdose on the drug the first time they use it. Here are some of the potentially lethal symptoms that a heroin overdose can cause:
- Coma Or Extreme Sedation: If an individual falls into a coma or becomes highly sedated during an overdose, they could vomit and drown in their own bodily fluids.
- Slow, Labored Breathing: An individual who has overdosed on heroin may not be able to breathe naturally. This can prevent them from getting enough oxygen and cause them to suffocate.
- Low Heart Rate: The heart rate and blood pressure of someone who has overdosed on heroin might not be strong enough to circulate blood throughout the body. In some cases, the heart could stop entirely.
Users typically inject heroin, and this means that overdoses can occur much faster than overdoses involving most other drugs. This makes it much more likely that an individual who has suffered an overdose will collapse before they have time to seek medical attention.
Heroin Users Are At An Increased Risk Of Blood Borne Diseases
Heroin users often use contaminated needles. In some cases, they may even share needles with other users. This can contaminate the user’s bloodstream with dangerous pathogens. Here are some blood borne diseases that IV heroin users are at risk for:
- HIV: HIV is often fatal, and heroin users can become infected if they share needles with users who are infected. There is a long period of time when an individual is contagious but does not have symptoms, and this can cause users to spread the disease without being aware of it.
- Hepatitis: Hepatitis is a blood borne infection that can cause serious damage to the liver. Heroin users get it from sharing needles.
Leukoencephalopath: The symptoms of this disease are neurological in nature. It’s estimated to be fatal in as many as 25% of cases. Users who are infected with HIV are more likely to contract it.
- Tetanus: Heroin users can develop tetanus if they use rusty needles to inject the drug. Unfortunately, heroin users who are acutely impaired by the drug could be unaware that a needle has rusted. This illness can be fatal, and it causes extremely painful muscle spasms and convulsions that can last for as long as one month.
- Lung Infections: The diseases that heroin users can catch often result in lung infections.
The Drug Can Be Contaminated
The handling of the drug is uncontrolled and often unsanitary during its manufacture and distribution. Since the drug is typically injected rather than taken orally, the body’s defenses against bacteria present in the drug are much lower. This can result in systemic, blood borne infections and infections of the skin. These infections can be fatal
In some cases, these infection can affect the heart. Many infections of the heart are fatal.
Heroin often contains other drugs that the user (and even the individual that the user purchased it from) isn’t aware of. These drugs can cause the heroin to be dangerously potent and make users even more likely to overdose. Heroin also can contain potentially toxic filler products that are used to increase the weight of the drug to increase its street value.
Heroin Is One Of The Most Addictive Drugs In Existence
It’s possible for someone to become psychologically addicted to heroin after only one use. As time goes on, the dependency becomes physical as well. This progression happens extremely quickly with heroin.
If physical dependency occurs, the user will experience physical withdrawal symptoms if they attempt to quit. These symptoms are quite severe. Heroin withdrawal can prevent the user from functioning. The illness is often so severe that sleep is impossible, and significant symptoms can last for a week.
A user’s cravings for heroin are especially severe during withdrawal. This makes it impossible for many heroin addicts to quit without medical assistance. In some cases, the withdrawal from heroin can be fatal.
Heroin Addiction Can Damage The Body Over Time
Heroin can cause damage to a user’s kidneys and liver. In addition, veins can collapse as a result of the frequent injections. Heroin users are also at an increased risk of high blood pressure.
Legal Penalties For Heroin Possession Can Be Severe
Heroin is an illegal narcotic in all 50 states and in other regions of the world. Even possessing small amounts of heroin is often a felony. Users who are arrested for heroin possession are sometimes sent to prison for periods of time of more than a year.
A conviction of heroin possession can result in a felony record. This can make it far more difficult for current or former users to find a job that pays a livable wage. It also can make it difficult to find housing.