Dangers of Smoking Heroin
Heroin is an opioid drug that’s illegal and sold on the black market in the U.S. There has been an increase in the number of people using heroin, as well as associated overdoses and deaths. Heroin is highly powerful and addictive, sometimes after only trying it once. As with other opioids, it affects the brain in a way that triggers addiction and compulsive drug-seeking behaviors. Heroin also causes respiratory depression, leading to overdoses and death.
The death rates because of heroin have been surging in the past decade throughout the U.S. The heroin epidemic is linked to the use of prescription drugs as well. Prescription painkillers are also opioids and can open the door for substance misuse, addiction, and dependence. There has been a national effort in the U.S. to educate people about the risks of heroin and all opioids. Along with this has been a push to help people currently addicted to opioids find the treatment and resources they need for recovery.
Heroin can be misused in different ways. This powder can then be liquefied and injected with a needle into the vein or the muscle. Intravenously is one of the most common ways to use heroin because it causes the most intense high. When heroin is injected, a person may begin to feel a euphoric high within just a few seconds. The peak effects of heroin used intravenously occur within 10 to 15 minutes.
Heroin can also be snorted or smoked. To smoke heroin, the drug itself is heated in a heroin pipe. Then, the vapors are inhaled through the heroin pipe. When heroin is smoked, the drug goes from lungs and into the arteries. Then it goes to the bloodstream and ultimately the brain. Smoking heroin has long been referred to as chasing the dragon.
While heroin provides the most powerful high when used intravenously, there are reasons people may smoke it instead. Users may feel afraid of injecting drugs, or they may be worried about the stigma associated with intravenous drug use. There are also risks specific to injecting heroin, such as getting bloodborne diseases like hepatitis. When heroin is injected it also increases the chances of becoming addicted or dependent. Intravenous heroin users have higher rates of physical tolerance and dependence compared to individuals who snort or smoke the drug. Also, smoking heroin makes it less detectable in blood tests compared to intravenous use.
Users may opt to combine heroin with marijuana as well. This is referred to as lacing, and the user can do it for a more intense effect when they smoke the combination. Dealers also do it as a way to get customers to use very addictive heroin. One of the risks of buying marijuana on the black market is that you may not even know if it’s laced with something as dangerous as heroin.
Addiction is just one of the dangers of smoking heroin. Specific dangers of smoking heroin as compared to other routes of administration include damage to the lungs and the potential for respiratory problems. People who smoke heroin are at a higher risk of developing bronchitis and pneumonia. Heroin also contributes to widespread damage to the organs including the heart, liver, and brain.
While someone may initially use a heroin pipe and smoke the drug to avoid the social stigma or the fear of intravenous use, it often leads to that anyway. The majority of people who start out smoking heroin to eventually move to needle use as they continue chasing a high that becomes more difficult to achieve as their tolerance builds. Despite misconceptions, there is no safe way to use heroin. There is also no way to use it without the risk of becoming addicted.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse disorder with heroin or any other drug, there are options available to you. Get in touch with us at The Recovery Village so we can explore how you can recover from the disease of addiction and live a fulfilling life.
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