Heroin Abuse

Heroin is making a comeback in the nation, and it has done so with a passion.  Heroin was a big problem all through the second half of the twentieth century, culminating in a heroin crisis in the 1970s and 1980s.  Starting in the 1990s though, heroin abuse began to fall off, and the notion was that it was falling out of style and that intensive preventative methods were finally starting to have a positive effect on it.

Sadly, this was not meant to be.  Starting in the early 2000s, heroin began to make a comeback and a big one at that.  Never before was there seen a heroin abuse and addiction problem the likes of this one.  Heroin is now one of the most popular drugs in the nation, and it is responsible for around five to ten thousand deaths every year and currently holds a population of over two million who are addicted to it.  If serious action isn’t taken now to address this, tens of thousands more will die, and millions more will become addicted in just the next few years.

The Gritty Truth About Heroin

A fair amount of research has been done over the course of the last few years into heroin abuse and addiction to get a better idea of just how dangerous it is, and the results have been quite concerning.  Organizations like the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), have all gotten together to try and learn as much as was possible about this problem so that it can be effectively addressed.

Some of what they found out is that:

  • The number of Americans with an addiction to heroin nearly doubled from 2007 to 2011.
  • It is estimated that 80% of new hepatitis C infections occur among those who use drugs intravenously, such as heroin users.
  • Nearly half of those who use heroin reportedly started abusing prescription painkillers before they ever used heroin.
  • Over a quarter million of drug-related emergency room visits are related to heroin abuse.
  • An estimated 13.5 million people in the world take opioids (opium-like substances), including 9.2 million who use heroin.
  • In the year 2007, 93% of the world’s opium supply came from Afghanistan. (Opium is the raw material for heroin supply.) Its total export value was about $4 billion, of which almost three quarters went to traffickers. About a quarter went to Afghan opium farmers.
  • The 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported 153,000 current heroin users in the U.S. in 2007. Other estimates give figures as high as 900,000.
  • The CDC found that of the 43,982 deaths due to drug poisoning in 2013, 81% were unintentional – while 12% were intentional suicides and 6% were of undetermined intent.
  • Opiates, mainly heroin, were involved in four of every five drug-related deaths in Europe, according to a 2008 report from the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction.
  • Opiates, mainly heroin, account for 18% of the admissions for drug and alcohol treatment in the US.
  • In 2011, there were 258,482 emergency department visits related to heroin use – making heroin the third most frequent drug involved in emergency department visits (following cocaine and marijuana).
  • The 21- to 24-year-old age group was found to have the highest rate of medical emergencies involving heroin (266.1 visits per 100,000 population ages 21 to 24).
  • Most recently, 2014 has seen the highest number of drug overdose deaths on record, reaching nearly 50,000 in a single year. Opioids – which may include both prescription pain relievers and heroin – have accounted for 61% of all drug overdose deaths in this same year.
  • Viral hepatitis is spread through contact with infected blood or body fluids such as semen and saliva. For this reason, injection drug users are at highest risk for contracting hepatitis B and C – both viruses of the liver. If left untreated, these viral infections may become chronic and eventually lead to death.

How Heroin Abuse Decreases Immune System Functioning

Heroin ruins a person’s body.  It just tears it apart from the inside out.  Heroin abusers are almost always sick too because heroin essentially completely inhibits a human being’s immune system.  This is concerning as if having a heroin abuse problem wasn’t bad enough by itself.  The truth is, heroin abusers are always having a lot of other health problems that come about from heroin abuse that don’t necessarily have to do directly with heroin.  Heroin abusers get colds, the flu, high blood pressure, serious blood problems, respiratory infections, and heart palpitations.  Sometimes, heroin abusers die even when they are not currently abusing heroin.

The reality of heroin abuse in the nation today is that it is so concerning that something does need to be done now more so than ever to stop it from continuing.  This is a severe and significant issue, and it will probably just continue if nothing is done about it.  With proper help from the right rehab centers though, addiction to heroin in the United States could finally become a thing of the past.  It almost went away at one point, and it certainly can go away again if the proper steps are taken.  If you would like more information about how heroin decreases immune system functioning, please call our toll-free number today.

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