Breaking Down the Drug: Heroin

The recent death of revered actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has sparked conversations around the nation about addiction. This tragedy has been reported as the result of an apparent Heroin overdose. Now there are many unanswered questions about this drug and what it can do. This is the time to start having those conversations. Here is what the experts at Fairbanks had to say about it.

Heroin is a highly addictive opioid drug derived from morphine, which usually appears as a white or brown powder or a black sticky substance, known as black tar heroin. This powerful drug can be injected, smoked or inhaled.

Heroin abuse can have short and long-term effects on a person’s health. After a single use of the drug, users often show the following symptoms: dry mouth, flushed skin, constricted pupils and slurred speech. As the abuse continues overtime, the body will adjust to the presence of the drug and becomes more physically dependent. When withdraw occurs strong cravings take place along with body aches, insomnia and vomiting.

“Withdrawal takes all of the immunity to pain they have developed all at once,” said Fairbanks Assistant Director of Adult Services Tobyn Linton. “Their nerves have been dead for so long that something as simple as breathing, sitting or feeling the wind can be painful.”

Heroin abuse can have fatal results due to an overdose, cardiac arrest or complications from being combined with other drugs. It also can lead to other health complications.

“Heroin can cause liver damage, alter a person’s pain perception or even result in death,” said Linton. “Sharing needles is really risky because users expose themselves to an exponential number of diseases.”

Indianapolis saw a spike in drug overdose deaths this past year. According the Indianapolis Pubic Safety Director Troy Riggs, there were 95 deaths in 2013 from Heroin alone. The inexpensive prices play a major role in the easy access of the drug.

“Fairbanks offers a number of programs for individuals to work with a physician and treatment team to find the best route to recovery,” Linton said.

Are you or a loved one struggling with Heroin addiction? Call a professional at Fairbanks today to take the first step toward getting your life back. Visit www.fairbankscd.org for additional information about our programs and services or call 800.225.4673.

Research: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin
Troy Riggs Interview with Amos: http://praiseindy.com/2013814/director-troy-riggs-talks-public-safety-issues-with-amos-including-rise-of-heroin-better-crime-reports-engaging-residents/