Heroin is a derivative of morphine, a natural product found in the seedpod of poppies. One quarter of the people who try this drug become addicted. Once addicted, it is almost impossible to break the habit. The strength of the addiction and the effects of the drug on the body make it one of the most deadly drugs available.
Heroin addiction is physical as well as psychological. The body actually adapts itself to the drug and when it is withdrawn, the physical symptoms are painful. Muscles and bones react by sending pain signals to the brain calling for more heroin to relieve the symptoms. Addicts in withdrawal experience bouts of nausea and vomiting.
The effects of regular heroin use are devastating to the body. The lung and liver are subject to disease and degradation. Infections of the lining of the heart are common and hepatitis may be passed between users when needles are shared. The risks of contracting HIV/AIDS from using shared needles are astronomical.
Over time, physical appearance will deteriorate in a user. Typical changes include weight and hair loss, extensive tooth decay, and signs of rapid aging. These changes begin to occur soon after addiction.
Heroin is thought to be extremely addictive because its effects are almost instantaneous. Young adults are extremely susceptible because it is an easy and very pleasurable high. Parents must educate their children about the effects of this drug with its high level of addiction rates.
Family members should seek professional help for the heroin addict as soon as they notice changes in physical appearance or behaviors that indicate a loved one is abusing heroin. Getting off of this drug requires medical intervention because the physical effects of withdrawal are so extreme. Weaning the body from the drug is the first step necessary to erase physical dependence. A protracted period of drug counseling after the heroin user gets clean will be necessary to maintain a drug-free future.