The Effects of Heroin Addiction

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Heroin, also commonly termed as hell dust, Smack, horse, dope and diamorphine among others, is a highly addictive illegal opioid substance derived from the opium poppy plant that elicits euphoric effects. Heroin is usually in the form of a brown or white powder or in some instances, a black sticky substance referred to as black tar heroin. Although heroin is used for medical purposes such as relieving pain as well as in opioid replacement therapy in some countries, it is, however, widely recognized as a recreational drug. As a result, heroin is either smoked, snorted, sniffed or injected intravenously, intramuscularly, or sub-dermally; thus into a vein, muscle or under the skin respectively.

Risk Factors for Heroin Abuse

In accordance with research conducted by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the strongest risk factors associated with heroin abuse is past misuse of prescription opioids or painkiller drugs. Concerning this, approximately 80% heroin users attribute their addiction to both prescription painkillers and opioids such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. Although cases of prescription painkiller and opioid addiction are relatively higher in the US, most people tend to shift from these drugs to heroin due to similarities among the opiates; hence, it acts as a substitute, and the fact that heroin is relatively cheaper, easily accessed, and of higher purity.

Prevalence of Heroin Use in the USE

Heroine abuse in the US has reached epidemic proportions over the decades, according to research, this increase has been recorded across all ages, sexes as well as social groups, however, heroin use among young adults from the ages of 18 to 25 years has almost doubled in the past decade. According to statistics, more than 3.8 million individuals which translates to about 16% of the population have abused heroine at some point in their lives, while more than 0.64% are highly addicted to heroin (Davis, 2017). In addition, approximately 13,000 individuals die on an annual basis due to heroin-related complications and overdose.

Effects of Heroine Abuse

Some of the long-term health issues associated with heroin addiction include but not limited to, liver and kidney diseases, heart, skin and pulmonary infections. Others include depression, chronic constipation, diminished sex drive, increased deterioration of the brain’s white matter, and lack of stress control skills. In addition, sharing of both syringes and injections among the heroin addicts also places them at risk of contracting HIV and viral hepatitis among other viral infections.

Heroin addiction also tends to have negative economic and social impacts, particularly on the user’s closest social circles. Concerning this, heroin addiction generally erodes an individual’s ability to maintain responsible as well as honest behaviors with loved ones, moreover, it also causes mood changes that also tend to elicit dangerous behaviors which ultimately lead to negative social implications, broken marriages, domestic and intimate partner violence, and child abuse. In other instances, such drug habits often led to legal entanglements with regard to child custody rights when the family unit is destroyed which tends to have not only emotional but also psychological effects on children. Moreover, most heroin addicts also have a tendency of finding themselves contending with dire financial situations which hurt both the heroin users and their families. Conclusively, heroin addiction also renders the users vulnerable to arrests, fights, deaths and other legal troubles all which affect the users and results in the separation of families.


Davis, N. (2017). US Heroin use has increased almost fivefold in a Decade, Study Shows. The Guardian. Retrieved from

August 21, 2023



Addiction Illness

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