Heroin addiction is a major national health concern. An opiate-based drug, heroin is highly addictive and is typically injected, snorted or smoked. Since heroin is commonly cut with other drugs and poisons, it can be easy for someone to accidentally overdose.
Heroin and health effects
The effects of heroin, which are usually felt almost instantly, have been described as a rush of euphoria felt throughout the entire body. Afterward, it tends to create a lingering, hazy semi-conscious state. Over time, heroin users will build a gradual tolerance to the drug. This, in turn, leads to a person needing more and more to achieve a satisfying high.
Heroin addiction is linked to serious health issues including bacterial infections, collapsed veins, and liver and kidney disease. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it is also linked to respiratory problems. Heroin users are also at an increased risk for contracting HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. When heroin slows down the body’s natural reflexes to the point that a person in unable to breathe, an overdose has occurred. A heroin overdose can cause slow, shallow breathing, convulsions, blue lips and fingernails, coma and death.
Reverse opioid overdose
In April 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a controversial device designed to reverse opioid overdose. The auto-injector, called Evzio, delivers a dose of a drug called naloxone. Naloxone is currently the standard treatment for opioid overdose, however it has only been available via a syringe from a medical professional. Evzio is meant to be used as an emergency treatment as soon as an overdose is suspected. The product comes with verbal instructions and should be injected either under the skin or directly into the muscle. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdoses have been on the rise since 1999. In 2010, opioids made up 43 percent of drug overdose deaths.
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