Heroin continues to be a major problem in today’s society, which leaves many wondering:
What is the real impact of heroin on lives and communities?
It’s a question we hear often. Here’s a list of 9 reasons why heroin is ruining lives and communities.
It’s One of the Most Addictive Drugs in the World
Heroin is a versatile drug that can be injected, snorted, or smoked. Opiates, in general, get to the brain quickly and can be highly addictive.
As a result, heroin use has increased in every US demographic in recent years. A 2003 survey found that 3.7 million Americans have used the drug at least once and almost 120,000 used it in the last month.
It’s Easy To Overdose
People can easily overdose on heroin. In 2009, heroin was involved in 213,118 emergency room visits in the US. In 2013, over 8,200 in the US died of a heroin-related overdose, numbers that have steadily risen since 2003.
Affected Communities Are At a High Risk For Crime
In 2004, 35% of people in federal or state prison committed their latest offense to get money for drugs, including violent crime, theft, drug-related crimes, and other violations.
In local communities where heroin is widely used, crime can become a huge problem. For example, the Police Chief of Waterloo Township in Michigan once said that 80% of the crime there was driven by heroin.
Long-term Health Risks Are Severe
Besides fatal overdose, heroin users are also at a higher risk for HIV/AIDS infection, collapsed veins, heart infections, and liver disease and jaundice. Heroin also slows down your central nervous system, affecting important processes like respiration.
Affected Communities Often Fall Into Poverty
Heroin abuse can be expensive, especially long-term, leaving many addicts and their families living in extreme poverty or even becoming homeless.
One New England man living in a town with a major heroin problem lost his job with the Department of Homeland Security as a result of addiction. He told Al Jazeera:
“The people here don’t even make enough money to get by, but they’ll get rid of their food cards, they’ll do whatever means, you know, they’ll go without food, they’ll steal from friends and family just to get one more.”
Survival Rates Aren’t Good
Long-term studies of heroin survival rates show incredibly low numbers. One 33 year study found that 50% of the male heroin users they studied had died, either by drug overdose, homicide, suicide, accidents, liver disease or a few other causes.
The Addict’s Family Become Victims
Anyone who cares about a heroin addict can undergo considerable undue stress. Not only can you not count on addicts like other family members, they also sometimes:
- Lie to you or steal from you to get heroin
- Lose their job and need support Leave home for several days at a time
- Start committing crimes
Families often feel responsible for helping the addict and fixing the situation, but it isn’t always possible.
Withdrawal Can Be Dangerous
Physical withdrawal when an addict stops using heroin can begin after just a few hours. Symptoms are often severe, including:
- Muscle and bone pain
- Cold flashes
- Goose bumps
For some people, withdrawal symptoms can persist for months. In severe cases, it results in death.
Even if someone does manage to beat the addiction and get through the withdrawal period, cravings can persist for years. They’re often triggered by stress or exposure to people, places or things associated with the person’s past heroin use, increasing someone’s chances for relapse.
You Can Get Help
If you or someone you love is addicted to heroin, there are options out there to start fixing the situation. Substance abuse treatment centers and outpatient treatment can help end the nightmare of heroin addiction so the person and their families can begin to heal.
Do you know of any other ways heroin addiction can affect lives and communities? Comment below.