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The Social Impact of Heroin

Heroin is an illegal drug synthesized from opiate precursor substances that are harvested from the opium poppy plant.

Heroin is perhaps most often injected, but may be also be smoked or snorted.

Once it has traveled through the bloodstream to the brain, heroin is metabolized back into morphine. You may already be aware that heroin abuse can result in many detrimental short-term and long-term effects throughout the body.


Heroin can cause damage to various organs, including the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys.

Its use can lead to breathing problems, collapsed veins, infectious diseases and even death.

What you may not be aware of is that your heroin use can also have a devastating social impact – to your personal relationships and to society, as a whole.

Heroin’s Effects on Personal Relationships

Heroin can cause a number of problems in your closest social circles. Some of these problems may include:

  • Broken marriages.
  • Lost friendships.
  • Destruction of the family unit.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Child abuse.
  • Loss of child custody.
  • Financial problems that affect your loved ones.

Loss of Reliability and Trustworthiness

Marriages, friendships and family units can break down when heroin begins to erode your ability to maintain honest and responsible behavior with your loved ones. With heroin’s ability to cause mood changes and elicit dangerous behavior, you run the risk of emotionally and physically hurting those who are closest to you.

For those with children – should your drug habits lead to legal entanglements or be reported to the authorities by other family members, you may even lose child custody rights.

Sexually transmitted diseases

Injecting heroin with shared needles and non-sterile needle technique puts you in danger of acquiring certain infectious diseases. Some of these diseases – such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C – are also spread sexually. So, even if you acquire these diseases from needle-sharing, you may soon place your sexual partner at risk of acquiring these chronic, potentially devastating illnesses.

Financial Problems

Many individuals struggling with heroin addiction soon find themselves contending with dire financial situations. These problems not only affect heroin users, themselves, but also the lives of their loved ones who depend on the support of the same financial resources.

luxury-shutter228656692-financial-problemsThe Costs of a Drug Habit

If you depend on heroin, regular drug purchases will soon become expensive and unsustainable. Any savings you have can quickly run out. And even money that is needed for housing, food or other basic life needs might be wasted instead on further feeding your addiction. In order to pay for your drug habit, you may even resort to theft or other illegal activity – making you vulnerable to further loss of income, should you ever be sentenced to jail.

Employment Risks

When you use heroin, you may jeopardize your ability to find a job, as many employers test for drug use as part of the hiring process. If you already have a job, drug use can impair your performance at work and put you at risk of losing your job.

Even small amounts of heroin can dampen your activity levels, motor skills and mood – all of which can impact your dedication and ability to carry out tasks. If you struggle with addiction to heroin, you may experience some of the following setbacks at work:

  • Increased absences.
  • Late arrivals to work.
  • Disciplinary problems.
  • Lack of productivity.
  • Getting fired.

Financial Ruin Also Affects the Poor

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for heroin to also financially devastate those who don’t even have much money to begin with.

The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime reported that1:

  • Poor people spend a greater percentage of their money on acquiring drugs than both middle-class and upper-class individuals.
  • The lower income population represents half of all drug users.
  • A majority of the drug users that fall amongst the poorest 20% of the nation’s population abuse heroin.

Any of these financial problems can drain a family’s resources that are needed to pay for basic life needs – housing, food, clothes, etc. Those who depend on your income in any way will suffer if these needs are insufficiently met. Relationships that are fraught with a number of these financial conflicts can also become particularly challenged, as financial matters often pose one of the biggest stressors within relational partnerships.

Heroin’s Effects on Society

While heroin’s impact may be more acutely felt when it affects those close to you, this drug can also negatively impact society, as a whole.

Heroin’s impact on society may include2:luxury-shutter375016594-incarceration

  1. The pervasive costs of crime:
    • State and federal incarceration costs.
    • Losses of crime victims.
    • Policing costs.
    • Legal costs.
    • Social welfare resources.
  2. Productivity loss due to:
    • Lower earnings.
    • Incarceration.
    • Unemployment.
    • Mortality.
  3. Costs from medical complications:
    • Hepatitis B & C.
    • AIDS.
    • Tuberculosis.
    • Pre-natal health issues.
    • Health insurance administration costs.
  4. Healthcare system resource utilization:
    • Emergency room.
    • Doctor’s office.
    • Treatments.
    • Social welfare.
    • Hospitals.
    • Abuse shelters.
  5. Child welfare – for children of heroin users.

Heroin’s link with crime goes beyond the illicit acts of manufacturing, possessing and selling drugs. The use of heroin can also cause users to engage in risky and illegal behavior. Many people who arrested for crimes may also be under the influence of drugs. In addition, heroin has been associated with weapons, violence and terrorism – all of which can have a devastating impact on society.

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

There are many treatment options available to you if you are battling heroin addiction. Many heroin addiction treatment programs use medications in combination with behavioral therapies and counseling. This multifaceted treatment approach is termed medication-assisted treatment, and is commonly utilized approach for providing long-lasting recovery from heroin addiction.

Some other treatment methods that have been showing promise for certain individuals also include cognitive behavioral therapies and contingency management.

Drugs Used to Treat Heroin Addiction

Several different types of medications have been approved for use in conjunction with therapy for the treatment of heroin addiction. These medications help heroin users cope with withdrawal and cravings in a way that is more comfortable and manageable than attempting the heroin detox process alone.

The type of medication used in your treatment will depend on a number of different factors. Your treating physician will weigh the pros and cons of each medication with you to formulate a treatment plan that will be best for you.

These medications include:

  1. Opioid agonists: these drugs work by mimicking the effects of heroin.
    • Methadone.
    • Buprenorphine.
  2. Opioid antagonists: these drugs work by blocking the effects of heroin.
    • Naltrexone.
  3. Mixed opioid agonists-antagonists: these drugs combine opioid agonists and opioid antagonists together.
    • Suboxone (a combination of buprenorphine + naloxone).
  4. Alpha-2 agonists: these drugs work to manage some of the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms brought on by the elevated activity of “fight or flight” chemicals experienced during acute heroin withdrawal.
    • Clonidine.
    • Lofexidine (in the UK).

Treatment Facility Types

Heroin addiction treatment facilities may vary in terms of their availability of private rooms, alternative therapeutic approaches and other extra luxuries.

  • Luxury rehab programs offer residential luxury-shutter162029303-luxury-facilityaddiction treatment alongside an array of high-end, resort-like amenities that help make your recovery process as comfortable as possible.
  • Executive rehab programs offer many of the same features as luxury programs but with the added resources and program structure that lets individuals maintain active involvement at work throughout recovery.
  • Standard rehab programs can take place in both inpatient/residential and outpatient addiction treatment settings. High-end amenities are less commonly offered in these programs. However, one benefit of these programs is that they provide quality addiction treatment at lower costs than luxury and executive programs.

Learn More and Find a Heroin Addiction Treatment Program

If you need help with your heroin addiction, do not despair. We have helped many people find the right kind of program for their needs. We can help you find the best luxury heroin addiction treatment facility that’s just right for you. Call us at 1-888-744-0789 Who Answers? for the support and resources you need.


  1. The Social Impact of Drug Abuse. (1995). UNDCP.
  2. Mark, T., Woody, G., Juday, T., Kleber, H. (2001). The economic costs of heroin addiction in the United States. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 61(2), 195-206.
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