Used and sold in a number of forms, the drug is fast in delivering its potent effects. Despite the dangers associated with the drug, its use has been increasing significantly throughout the nation in recent years which has resulted in heroin addiction epidemic in the United States. In 2016, an estimated 475,000 Americans (aged 12 years or above) were identified as current users of heroin.
Heroin epidemic does not discriminate. It affects men and women of all age groups, and both rich and poor alike. The effects of a heroin overdose are severe and often fatal, making heroin addiction treatment a matter of life and death.
About heroin abuse
Classified as a Schedule I substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), heroin has a high potential for abuse and is not prescribed for medical use in the United States, even under medical supervision. An opioid, heroin works by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain, nervous system, and other parts of the body, blocking the user’s sensation of pain and discomfort, slowing down one’s metabolism, and generating sensations of pleasure and euphoria among its users.
Heroin can be injected, smoked or snorted, and is frequently used in combination with other drugs or alcohol. Some prefer to take it along with crack cocaine in a particularly dangerous concoction known as a speedballing. The combination gained national attention when comedian John Belushi died of a fatal overdose in 1982. It again made headlines when actor River Phoenix succumbed to a speedball overdose in 1993.
Heroin use and its history
First synthesized in Germany in 1895, heroin was used to relieve pain. Ironically, it was also seen as a possible treatment for morphine addiction. In the U.S., it became associated with the culture surrounding jazz music during 1930-1940 and with the Beatniks of the 1950s. Heroin abuse continued as a part of the 1960s counterculture, producing its share of high profile casualties, including singer Janis Joplin’s death in 1970 due to an overdose. During the same period, heroin use became rampant among U.S. military personnel serving in Vietnam. By 1970, there were an estimated 750,000 people addicted to heroin in the U.S. This helped spur the creation of the DEA in 1970.