A life that is focused on getting heroin and getting high is not, in itself, much of a life worth living – but the good news is that you don’t have to live this way anymore. Treatment works, and you don’t have to do it alone. According to Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) emergency department (ED) data, there were 93,064 reported mentions of heroin in 2001, an increase of 47.4% since 1994.
According to the 1998 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, which may actually underestimate illicit opiate (heroin) use, an estimated 2.4 million people had used heroin at some time in their lives. According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, or DAWN, heroin and morphine (which cannot be told apart by medical examiners after the body metabolizes the chemicals) accounted for 51 percent of drug deaths ruled accidental or unexpected in 1999.
According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 76,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 have used heroin at least once. According to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Study in 2002, 1.6% of 8th graders, 1.8% of 10th graders, and 1.7% of 12th graders surveyed reported using heroin at least once during their lifetime. That study also showed that 0.9% of 8th graders, 1.1% of 10th graders, and 1% of 12th graders reported using heroin in the past year. Male students (3.8%) were more likely than female students (2.5%) to report lifetime heroin use.
According to What America’s Users Spend on Illegal Drugs, heroin expenditures were an estimated $22 billion in 1990, and decreased to $10 billion in 2000. Across the country, the per capita heroin death rate equals 5.4 deaths per 100,000 people.
Actions/Effects: Heroin plugs into receptor cells in the brain that regulate the perception of pain and the experience of pleasure. At low doses, it triggers a dreamlike state of intoxication with such un-dreamy side effects as constricted pupils, reduced appetite, constipation, low body temperature, itching, sweating, and stupor. At higher doses, these effects increase, but breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure are reduced. At very high doses, death results.
Addicted individuals who stop using heroin may experience withdrawal symptoms, which include heroin craving, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, and vomiting. Addiction -- It takes only a couple of weeks of regular use to become physically dependent on heroin.