The Reality of Heroin in America


In 2016, almost a million Americans were reported using heroin that year. This trend seems to be affecting young adults between the ages of 18-25. The growing prevalence of heroin is causing more people to experience deadly health effects.

The United States, especially, is feeling the impact of heroin use. It is no longer predominately used in urban areas. Heroin can be found on many street corners in suburban and rural areas. The amounts of heroin seized by officials are increasing as well as the number of overdose deaths.

The Medical Complications of Heroin Abuse

Chronic heroin users, no matter how they ingest the drug, are susceptible to medical complications and terrible withdrawal symptoms. They also have a higher risk of tuberculosis and pneumonia from heroin’s effect of depressing the respiratory system. Many often experience depression, mental disorders, and antisocial personality. People who snort heroin repeatedly run the risk of mucosal tissue damage in their nose.

Beating addiction is hard, but beating a heroin addiction may seem impossible. Heroin is known for its hold that it takes on its victims and the horrible withdrawal symptoms that follow during the recovery process. Withdrawal symptoms are usually felt between 24-48 hours after the last use. Symptoms include muscle and bone pain, diarrhea, restlessness, cold flashes, vomiting, insomnia, fever, and chills. Symptoms are similar to that of a bad case of the flu.


The most common way heroin addicts administer the drug is by injection. Injecting heroin can cause the blood vessels to clog that lead to the brain, liver, kidneys, and lungs. It is common to see cellulitis, collapsed veins, and abscesses among chronic heroin users who inject. The opioid epidemic is a crisis in America. The demand is so high; the drug dealers are mixing their heroin with other foreign substances to stretch out their product. Many heroin users are injecting themselves with heroin combined with toilet water, fentanyl, instant coffee, and other harmful chemicals without even knowing it.

Getting Treatment

Most heroin addicts fail to understand that recovery is a long-term process. Heroin is such an addictive drug that it takes longer than just a 30-day stay in rehab for long-term sobriety. The beginning stages of recover require weeks of medically-assisted detoxification along with years of group interaction and follow-up therapy.

Relapse is common and should not be an indication of failure. Thankfully, as recovery progresses, there is hope that addicts can bounce back successfully. It’s crucial that underlying psychological problems are addressed during treatment. In many cases, drug abuse is a way for addicts to cope with unaddressed emotional, psychological, and other mental illnesses. Getting through detoxification and becoming sober is the number one priority for all addicts no matter what has happened in their personal histories. Underlying issues will need to be dealt with immediately and openly as possible.


Heroin and opioid abuse can be treated in a residential or outpatient setting. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and contingency management along with medication have shown a high success rate when treating heroin. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps alter the user’s behaviors and expectations related to heroin use. It will assist them in learning how to cope with everyday stressors in life.

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