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Myths about Heroin

Heroin has been around for a long time. In fact, heroin was originally developed in the 1870s and sold primarily to combat the addictive properties of morphine and opium, as stated in an article published by Narcotics Anonymous. Thought to be non-addictive when it was created, the experts were terribly wrong. For more than 100 years, the United States has suffered the effects of this highly addictive substance.

Thanks to media attention which portrayed stereotypical heroin addicts living in poor, urban settings, many of us have a preconceived notion about what heroin is, who chooses to use it, and how it the use can manifest problems. Here are several myths about heroin, and the truth about them might surprise you.

MYTH: Nobody Uses Heroin Anymore; It Was a ‘70s Thing

A vintage article in the New York Times, originally published in September of 1986, stated that the city was seeing less growth in instances of heroin use. In 1974, the article continues, the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimated the number of heroin addicts in the United States to be over a half-million. By 1986, when the article was written, the population of drug users across the nation was aging, while younger adults and teens preferred the adrenaline rush of cocaine.

Does this mean that heroin is not a problem?  Unfortunately, it does not. The following statistics show that heroin is still alive and well on the list of abused and misused drugs:

  • A 2003 national survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that at least 3.7 million Americans had used heroin in their lifetime.
  • The same study revealed that 314,000 Americans had used heroin in the year prior to the survey, with 281,000 seeking treatment services.
  • In 2002, heroin accounted for 93,519 emergency department visits according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network’s annual survey, as reported by the NIDA article.
  • In 2010, heroin accounted for 224,706 emergency department visits according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network’s annual survey.

Heroin is still here. It is still being abused. And it is still very dangerous.

What to Expect During Heroin Withdrawal

Many heroin users doses themselves as many as four times per day, according to the National Institute of Health. The highly addictive nature of this drug makes quitting difficult, and the withdrawal symptoms associated with not taking the drug can be rather difficult to deal with. These symptoms can add to the inability of addicts to quit without significant help.

Withdrawal symptoms, as listed by the NIDA, include:

  • Pain of the bones and muscles
  • Diarrhea, vomiting and cold chills (flu-like symptoms)
  • Involuntary jerking of the muscles
  • Restlessness
  • Severe cravings

Heavy drug users should seek help during this withdrawal process. Typically, withdrawal is not fatal, however, quitting a severe dependency while in already very poor health can result in some fatalities. It’s advised that detox occurs with the help of doctors in a top exclusive inpatient heroin addiction treatment facility.

MYTH: Heroin Is Only a Problem for IV Drug Users

The myth that heroin is only used by those who inject drugs using a syringe is untrue. Heroin can be used in several forms, although injection provides the most direct and intense route of delivery. Other methods of ingestion include smoking and inhaling through the nasal passages, known as “snorting.”  According to the NIDA, it does not matter what method is used – all can lead to addiction.

MYTH: Heroine Is Too Expensive to Pose a Real Threat to Teens

According to research conducted by the NIDA in the late 1990s, the prevalence of school-aged children having access to and using heroin had nearly doubled over the course of just 10 years. Heroin that is “snorted” rather than injected is cheaper and easier to manufacture, thus lowering the cost for the end user and expanding the use of heroin from the inner cities to the suburbs and rural avenues of America.

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