Heroin: A Vicious Circle
Heroin is a highly addictive illicit drug used by millions of people around the world who are unable to overcome the powerful urge to stop using. The effects on one’s body and life are devastating, and unable to let go, many die.1 In the 1990s, the mortality rate of heroin addicts was 20 times greater than the rest of the population.1
In its purest form, heroin is a fine, white powder; however, frequently it is found to be rose gray, brown, or black.1 The color change is due to the additives that have been used to dilute it, which sometimes includes sugar, caffeine, or other substances.1 It is often unknown. Sometimes it can be cut with poisons.1 As the additives often do not fully dissolve when injected into the body, they can clog the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, kidneys, or brain, leading to infection or destruction of vital organs.1
When buying heroin off the street, the user never really knows the actual strength of the drug, putting them at risk of an overdose.1 The first time it is used, the drug creates a sense of euphoria, where the person feels extroverted, warm, and may have heightened sensory experiences.1 However, the drug quickly breaks down the immune system, leaving the user sickly, thin, and on the verge of death.1
Being a drug addict is like being imprisoned. In the beginning, you think that drugs are your friend, but soon you find yourself obsessively thinking about them and needing to use despite the harm they cause your body and your life.1
When the effects of heroin fade, the user will become drowsy, and their breathing and heartbeat slow.1 Within the next few hours, the addict’s body craves the drug, and if they do not get their fix, they begin to experience the dreaded withdrawal.1 This includes extremely uncomfortable physical and mental symptoms, such as restlessness, aches and pains in the bones, diarrhea, and vomiting.1 After the addict has been using for a while, they need increasing amounts of the drug just to feel normal.1
Frequent injections leave the user with collapsed veins, putting them at risk of infection of the blood vessels and heart valves.1 Tuberculosis can result from poor condition of the body.1 Arthritis is also common in long-term heroin users.1 Sharing needles leads to HIV and AIDS, as well as hepatitis.1
There are many other long-term effects of using heroin. Many have bad teeth, inflammation of the gums, constipation, cold sweats, itching, respiratory illnesses, muscular weakness, reduced sexual capacity, and menstrual disturbances.1 There is also the possibility of loss of memory and intellectual performance, introversion, depression, loss of appetite, insomnia, and pustules on the face.1
Even a single dose of heroin can start a person on the long road of addiction. The image of a heroin addict in a filthy, dark alleyway is now obsolete.1 The user could be smart, stylish, and bear none of the common traces of heroin use, such as needle marks.1 As heroin is available in various forms, it is easier to consume and more affordable.1 It’s more tempting than ever. Between 1995 and 2002, the number of teenagers in America, ages 12 to 17, who used heroin at some point increased by 300 percent.1 In all forms, heroin is dangerous and addictive.
Heroin dealers will say anything to get you to buy their drugs—they’re motivated by profit.1 They’ll tell you the drug will “help you fit it” or “make you cool.”1 Whether or not the drug ruins your life doesn’t matter to them—they’re getting paid.1 Many see their buyers as pawns in a chess game.1
Make your own decisions, and choose not to try it.