Heroin Addiction in the United States

Most of us are aware that the United states is in the midst of a national overdose epidemic. The type of substances stealing the limelight of the epidemic? Opioids. One popularly abused opioid is known as heroin. Heroin is an opiate drug derived from morphine, which comes from the seedpods extracted from the poppy flower. It ranges from a white powder, brown powder and black tar. It can be snorted, smoked or injected. Originally made from morphine in 1874, heroin was created by a chemist at The Bayer Company of Germany in 1895 and introduced for medical use in 1898. The chemist was attempting to create a less addictive substitute for morphine and gave the new drug the name heroin for its supposed heroic qualities. Unfortunately, the chemist later discovered that heroin is in fact two to three times more potent than morphine and absorbs rapidly into the brain, making it extremely easy for one to develop a heroin addiction.

Those addicted to heroin describe the high as feeling, “covered in a warm blanket, where worries are gone” (Bhandari, 2018). Heroin can be smoked, snorted or injected directly into the user’s veins. Injecting heroin is the most popular way to take the drug since it’s the quickest way to feel the drug’s high. Sadly, injecting heroin is the most dangerous ways to use the substance. This is because the risk for overdose is greater as well as the risk of developing an infection from using dirty needles.

How easy is it to develop an Addiction?

Most users of heroin are aware of the deadly risks involved when using the drug yet are unable to discontinue using. Why? Heroin addiction is extremely powerful and usually requires professional medical intervention in order to successfully treat and manage the addiction. In fact, using heroin just once is enough to develop an addiction. Experts in the field attribute the increase in heroin use with the rising street costs of prescription painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin, which are also opioids. People in the market for a stronger, less expensive opioid receive both of these attributes. Drug dealers have also been lacing heroin with a much more dangerous and potent substance called fentanyl. Fifty to one hundred times stronger than morphine, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is being found in more and more supplies of heroin. Heroin overdose deaths doubled between 2010 and 2012 and continue to rise at an exponential level since the introduction of fentanyl in heroin’s supply chain.

Bhandari, S. (2018, May 20) Heroin Use, Addiction, Effects, Withdrawal, and More. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/heroin-use#1
Nierenberg, C. (2016, October 27) 10 Interesting Facts About Heroin. Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/56604-facts-about-heroin.html
Haupt, A. (2014, February 10) The Facts About Heroin. Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2014/02/10/the-facts-about-heroin
National Institute on Drug Abuse (2019) Why does heroin use create special risk for contracting HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C? Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/why-are-heroin-users-special-risk-contracting-hivaids-hepatitis-b-c