How Heroin Is Used
## ## Many people smoke or snort heroin. Most users inject it into their veins. That’s the most dangerous way to take it, because it’s easier to overdose and you can catch a disease from a dirty needle.
No matter how you take it, heroin gets to yourbrainquickly. It’s also easy to get addicted. Even after you use it just one or two times, it can be hard to stop yourself from using again.
Right after you take heroin, you get a rush of good feelings and happiness. Then, for several hours, you feel as if the world has slowed down. You think slowly and may walk slowly. Some users say you feel like you’re in adream.
Heroin blocks your body from getting pain messages and slows yourheart rateand breathing. If you overdose, you may stop breathing and die.
Many people start using heroin to deal with anxiety, worries, and other stressors. One study found that 75% of users hadmental healthissues such asdepression,ADHD, orbipolar disorder.
Why Are More People Using Heroin?
The number of people in the United States who use heroin has risen steadily since 2007.
One thing that plays a role in the rise is the growing abuse of prescription painkillers such asoxycodoneandhydrocodone, which are also made from the poppy plant and are chemically related to heroin. People who misuse these drugs may start looking for a stronger, cheaper high. Heroin is both. But it’s also more dangerous. There’s no way to know what you’re taking or how strong it is. heroin overdose death rate rose nearly 400% between 2010 and 2017. Some of these deaths happen because heroin is laced with other drugs, such as the powerful painkillerfentanyl.
Heroin Addiction and Withdrawal
Heroin is very addictive. Many people who take it develop a use disorder. This means it causes health problems, disabilities, and trouble at home, work, or school.
If you use heroin a lot, your body builds up a tolerance to it. But that doesn’t mean it won’t harm you. It means you need to take more and more to get the same high. Your body comes to depend on it. Then, when you quit using it, you have withdrawal symptoms that may include:
Vomiting and diarrhea
Bone and muscle painCold flashes
Leg movements that you can’t controlYour medical team can help you find the treatment plan that works best for you. It will probably include medication and behavioral therapy. Experts say this medication assisted treatment (MAT) is the “gold standard” of care for people who have heroin addiction.
Medications can make it easier to wean your body off heroin and reduce cravings. Buprenorphine and methadone work in a similar way to heroin, binding to cells in your brain called opioid receptors. These medicines are safer and longer lasting than heroin. Naltrexone blocks those receptors so opioids like heroin don’t have any effect. This makes using them less enjoyable.
A medication called naloxone can block the effects of a heroin overdose if it’s used quickly. Paramedics often give it as a shot. But it also comes in measured doses as an auto pen (Evzio) and a nasal spray (Narcan). In some states, you don’t need a doctor’s prescription to get Narcan. You can get it through local resources or pharmacy chains.
Someone who’s overdosing may need more than one dose of naloxone or further medical care. After you give them a dose of naloxone, call 911 or get them to the ER right away.