Substance Abuse – Heroin 03/27/2011 Substance abuse is a problem that is an epidemic all over the world. America is not the only country suffering from heroin addiction. The misuse and abuse of drugs occurs at all age levels, in almost all social settings and at workplace occurrence in all occupation and industries. It has significant negative impacts that affect every community though out the world. Drugs affect all of us in one way shape or form. The government is making every attempt to extinguish the narcotic culture but it appears to be a losing battle from the beginning.

Heroine has become a world epidemic that we see on the news and read about in the morning paper. The usage of heroin has increased over the last three decades and shows little sign of decreasing. This addiction is creating issues for every city and town throughout North America as well as larger populated areas in Europe. The normal method of use of heroin is through an injection, which creates more issues beyond addition such as AIDS and other incurable deceases. The Drug issues in American have forced the government to hold a zero tolerance policy when it involved drugs.

These policies were created with the idea that drug use is all too common epidemic, that is increasing the grips on communities and this policies basis is to remove all of the illegal use of drugs all together. It’s never as easy as the foundation states no matter the way it is approached. The idea is to punish for the use, trafficking and creation of the illegal narcotics to make those whom consume, sell or create will be punished with jail or fines. The current investment is currently listed as 400 billion US dollars yearly.

Even though the Government has made every attempt to limit this it has been shown that drugs use is on the rise, not just in North America, but other continents as well such as Europe and South America. Watch the television and listen to the radio about the war on drugs. One of the public policies in America is the drug maintenance programs. There has been noted a decline in health outcomes with the use of heroine narcotics. Heroine addition is a crippling and horrible issue known by many that inject or snort heroine. The Drug

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Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 has approved the use of one of the substitutes of opiate which is Buprenorphine that slowdown the addition of heroine. Buprenorphine is a substitute drug that enables the user to slowly recover and withdraw completely. The way heroin overdose happens is nothing short of the same issue other drugs have. The user takes more and more of the same drug to gain the same effect. The main issue is that heroine overdoes will most likely kill the user. One needs to understand what heroin does to the human brain to under understand the addition as this epidemic hits the American mainstream.

Heroin enters the brain, where it is converted to morphine and binds to receptors known as opioid receptors. These receptors are located in many areas of the brain especially those involved in the perception of pain and in reward. When a user shoots up heroin, or snorts it, they report feeling a surge of euphoria. With regular heroin use, tolerance develops, in which the user’s physiological response to the drug decreases as the more drug is administered to achieve the same euphoric state. Where the issue begins to happen when the users increases the dosage attempting to achieve the same euphoric state and over does on the narcotic.

Overdoes is caused by respiratory failure leading to death. If a heroin user who is on the Buprenorphine treatment decides to take heroin or any other opiates after using Buprenorphine, they won’t receive additional effects which is a great starting point. Buprenorphine has a good blocking point and ceiling effect for safety. On a positive note, the effects of Buprenorphine are noted at low doses. Which means that the more doses taken the effects do not increase which diminishes the possibility of an overdose with other opiates. One scientific finding is that young adolescent.

Male or female seem to have much better outcomes from the Buprenorphine treatments than those of older ages. This reduces the risks of HIV. In other studies it has been shown to improve the psychological functions of these adolescents. There has been a 50-60% success rate in clinical trials of adolescents using Buprenorphine weaning off the users of heroin. Even more encouraging is the fact that 90% of these patients reduce their intake of heroin. Methadone on the other hand does not show the same potential that was once believed to be the answer to heroin addict deaths, showing 30% success rate of those not in treatment.

These injection rooms where designed to prevent accidental overdoses, HIV Aids, hepatitis C and the reduction of discarded used needles. This would also reduce the risk of overdose death rates. The United States is considering the idea as it has been proven to reduce such risks. A 2007 household survey stated that “50% of respondents said they would support regulated heroin injecting rooms”, which is a far outcry from the alternative. Think of the idea of these addicts using their drugs in a place where new needles are supplied by nurses and doctors which are present in the case of an accidental overdose.

This has been controversial but the advantages outweigh the negatives. An example is a family has a son that was addicted to heroin that expressed such concerns that they feared that he would be in a dark alley somewhere dark and seedy and accidently overdose or use a shared needle thus contracting AIDS. With way it would be a death sentence to their son. They have embraced the idea of injection rooms in an effort to keep their son around long enough to help him with his addiction with new treatments. Heroin addiction affects the addict or “junkie” in a multitude of ways.

Of course this depends on how bad the addition is in the first place. Like any drug dependency, there are certain heath risks, some with fatal consequences. To get an idea of these health risks this paper is talking about let’s take a closer look. For starters the AIDS remains one to the top issues that affect heroin addicts as they have a tendency to share needles with other addicts that are affected with the HIV virus. These addicts rarely take care of themselves. They are constantly looking for ways to gain the high they want so badly and what their body craves.

Unprotected sex is another cause of poor health and another way these addicts become HIV. Female heroin addicts carelessly prostitute themselves to get money to support their habit. Spontaneous abortions are issues that affect female heroin addicts that continue to consume the drug while pregnant. Other issues include collapsed veins from continued use of hypodermic needles entering the same area and veins. Other problems that affect heroin addicts are pneumonia where their longs fill with fluid making it even more difficult to breath.

Hepatitis is another infection affecting heroin addicts that occurs from the shared use of hypodermic needles without cleaning and sterilizing. The list can go on with the issue an addict will encounter. This items listed here are just the icing on the cake. Heroin not only affects the addict; Heroin also affects the community as well. The community involves all those whom live around addicts that consume their drugs on or around areas that others inhabit. All too often addicts are in such a hurry to “get their fix” they consume drugs on the spot.

There is good evidence that has been discovered that they will consume the illegal drugs within a short distance from where they purchased it if not in the exact location. The sad issue here is that these addicts neglect the family that is willing to sacrifice their needs in order to help the addict. When the heroin addict is in need of a “fix”, they disregard their family values and friends thinking only of themselves in order to gain the high they so desperately need. These decisions have an avalanche affect such as recognition and gossip.

Some may feel that these are minute issues but the long term carryover can be significant. The other issue is same family members are what doctor’s term as an “enabler” even though they condemn the use of the illegal drugs. These family members will aid and help the heroin addict obtain their drugs in hopes of protecting the addict. Another negative effect of families that enable these users is the theft increases. Addicts will steal and take anything that they can sell to obtain the drug. There are other locations that are impacted by the heroin addict culture.

One cannot forget places outside the home such as the “streets”. Places outside the home such as parks, over passes, inner city dwellings and especially abandoned homes. An All too common nick name addicts have been called, that take over abandoned buildings also known are known as “squatters”. These are people that inhabit dwellings and buildings that are abandoned, taking no care nor safely to clean after themselves. These individuals become very difficult to eliminate from rural areas and warehouses.

These locations become dangerous to the surrounding areas and especially children because the discarded hypodermic needles lying all over the place within reach of children without regard to safety. What makes these so dangerous, AIDS is one thing that could happen should a child accidently stick themselves. But other deceases could and do occur quite regularly. Addicts are known to be extremely violent when they need more heroin. There have been reported cases in New York City where heroin addicts perform violent acts on people on the street attempting to rob them but because the drug has taken hold of their desire to get more drugs.

In 2007 there was an attack on an elder women walking out of a supermarket that was bludgeoned to death with a seal rod from a construction site in an attempt to get her wallet. When the police captured the drug crazed threat, they discovered the addicts held her bloody purse in his clutches. When the police apprehended the individual responsible for the elder woman’s death, they discovered the wallet in the purse only held four dollars in cash and she held no credit cards but had several food stamps.

Certain life styles appear to be more prone to such drug addictions than others. The music industry has certainly gained popular and negative personas. The “Rock and Roll” life style has certainly become center stage when we hear reports about rock starts overdosing such as “Kirk cobane of Nirvana, Keith Richards in the Rolling stones just to name a few. Kids idealize these stars thinking they would like to become them thus mimicking their negative actions. A sad reality is that these stars consume massive quantities of drugs only to become statistics of the negative kind.

The death huge movie stars such as Chris Farley that suffercaded in his New York apartment from a massive overdose of heroin have become a sad reality what this drug has brought to this world. Heroin has become center stage in the judicial system Fines and harsh jail sentences are being delivered to these addicts that not only traffic but consume. Fines can reach as high as fifty thousand dollars and six months of community servers along with clinics for rehabilitation. Heroin has taken root in America and is threatening the stable foundations in which we consider safe.

This drug is like a virus that eliminates family values and normal human nature. In an attempt to prevent violence, overdoes, improperly disposed of hypodermics, AIDS, and other issues. These countries have introduced physician monitored injection rooms. There are some positive remedies to this drug culture but takes a long duration to resolve the addition. These addicts have been known to be violent and perform violent acts to rob victims to purchase more drugs. This is an epidemic that police departs, schools, governments are attempting to introduce deterrents that create fines and jail time.

The war on drugs has had little effect on the drug trade that has become a virus that will need stronger counter measures to remove this threat. References Alex Mold, Heroin (2009): The Treatment of Addiction in Twentieth-century, Northern Illinois University Press, Champaign New York, 236 – 265 Humberto Fernandez (1998), Heroin the true story, Hazelden publishers, Minneapolis Minnesota, 145 – 160 Lauer, R. H. , & Lauer, J. C. (2011). Social problems and the quality of life (12th ed. ). New York:  McGraw-Hill, Inc.


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