Heroin addiction is a pervasive problem, both in Florida and across the country. As law-enforcement officials continue to crack down on prescription painkiller abuse, addicts have turned to heroin instead. Heroin addiction has become more common in Florida, and the mortality rate from the drug has increased: A report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that heroin deaths have jumped 89 percent from 2011 to 2013. The drug has infiltrated neighborhoods of all socioeconomic levels, and many drug treatment centers have observed an increase in heroin addiction cases.
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Heroin is an addictive drug that is derived from the poppy flower. It’s produced by removing opium from the poppy pod; the opium is first refined to produce morphine and refined a second time to create heroin. There are a number of ways to take heroin: It is often injected into veins or muscles, but it can also be smoked or snorted.
Heroin abuse has reached epidemic proportions in recent years, as doctors become more reluctant to prescribe commonly-abused painkillers such as Percocet and OxyContin. Manufacturers of these drugs have made it more difficult to grind the pills into a powder.
The heroin market has taken advantage of the dwindling supply of these painkillers and offered users a purer, cheaper form of the drug. Due to these circumstances, addiction to heroin has spiked among Florida residents.
Feelings of euphoria often accompany heroin use: Users describe the feeling as an initial rush, followed by a sensation of warmth that courses through the body. Many users claim their first experience with heroin felt similar to an orgasm. Unfortunately, the pleasure that comes with heroin use is short-lived, and tolerance develops quickly.
With continued use, individuals need larger amounts of the drug in order to experience the same effects. Heroin is highly addictive, and it only takes weeks for many users to develop a dependency on the drug. At this point, addicts need regular doses of heroin just to fend off the difficult symptoms of withdrawal that occur when they go any length of time without the drug.
It only takes a few hours without heroin for withdrawal symptom to occur. Users may experience insatiable cravings for the substance and suffer vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and restlessness. Many heroin addicts also suffer chills and goose bumps when they withdraw from the drug: This particular set of symptoms led people to coin the term “cold turkey” in reference to quitting a drug.
Continued heroin use can lead to a variety of long-term physical consequences. Many heroin addicts find themselves facing cardiac infections, kidney failure, liver problems and gastrointestinal issues due to their drug use. Collapsed veins are another common effect of frequent, long-term heroin injections. In addition to these serious health risks, users may be harmed by additives found in impure street heroin. Addressing a heroin problem in its early stages can help head off some of these effects.
Although heroin addiction can be difficult to conquer, an effective treatment program can get individuals on the road to long-term recovery. All addiction treatment plans begin with the process of medical detoxification, where medications are administered to ease the symptoms of withdrawal and lessen cravings for the drug. Methadone and buprenorphine are commonly used during heroin withdrawal. Once an individual has completely withdrawn from the drug, they are likely to receive individual and group counseling, as well as behavioral therapy. These forms of therapy help recovering individuals understand the challenges of addiction and learn how to cope with the stresses and triggers that may lead them to relapse.
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