Heroin, one of the most addictive drugs in America, is made from alkaloid morphine, which is derived from the poppy flower. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), in 2015, around 591,000 Americans aged 12 and above had a substance use disorder (SUD) involving heroin abuse. Over the years, there has been a sharp uptick in the number of people abusing heroin. The repeated abuse of heroin is responsible for causing structural changes in the brain that increase the likelihood of developing an addiction.
Unfortunately, with the surge in heroin abuse, there has been a sharp increase in the number of overdose deaths involving heroin. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heroin-related overdose deaths have quadrupled since 2010. In 2015, the CDC reported that males aged 25 to 44 years had the highest incidence of heroin mortality rate at 13.2 per 100,000, representing a definitive increase of 22.2 percent from the previous year.
In the light of the growing menace of heroin, the news pertaining to the development of a game-changing vaccine for heroin addiction has been welcomed by all. Reportedly, Opiant Pharmaceuticals, a pharma company that developed Narcan-branded naloxone nasal spray, is developing the vaccine. Its product Narcan Nasal Spray, one of the most effective antidote to opioid overdose, has already shown incredible results in terms of controlling overdose. Similar outcomes are expected through the above-mentioned vaccine currently under development.
According to Opiant Pharmaceuticals, the vaccine would enable the inoculated person’s body to form antibodies that would prevent the binding of heroin to the opioid receptors in the brain. With the pleasure centers blocked, an individual would no longer experience psychoactive effects due to heroin; therefore, he or she would have a low chance of falling prey to the drug-seeking habit.
Dangers of heroin
One of the reasons for the rapid increase in heroin abuse is its easy accessibility. As most of the heroin is grown and processed across the border, traffickers find it relatively easier to smuggle drugs through the porous American borders. Though the border patrol has stepped up vigilance, smugglers manage to find a way to sneak in their booty by misleading the forces.
Compared to other drugs, heroin is relatively cheaper, thereby enhancing its lucrativeness among users. Furthermore, the crackdown on prescription drugs and the seizure of pill mills could have led habitual users to other substances like heroin. When they find it hard to satiate their opioid cravings, people addicted to painkillers or prescription opioids turn to street drugs like heroin.
People who use heroin, usually either smoke, snort or inject it directly into their veins. The intravenous use of heroin is one of the most toxic forms of drug use practice and is associated with the increased risk of overdose. However, other practices like smoking or snorting the drug is no less risky. Irrespective of the method used for abusing heroin, there is a high risk of developing physical and physiological dependence on the substance by inflicting numerous structural and chemical changes in the brain. The onset of severe withdrawal pangs makes it difficult for the user to quit the habit even if he or she wants to. Some of the withdrawal symptoms associated with heroin addiction are diarrhea, seizures, chills, extreme moodiness, muscle spasms and an intense craving for the drug.
Road to recovery
Finding a permanent solution to an addiction is not easy, but it is possible. People who have undergone detox admit that the urge to opt for the easy way out seems beyond their reach. This is evident from the statistics that mention a majority of the people seeking freedom from drugs are not successful in the first go. Though quitting drugs is a time-consuming process, one can overcome all difficulties through patience and perseverance and timely help from reputed rehab centers.
Sovereign Health of Florida, a leading addiction treatment provider, offers the best treatment for drug addiction at both its Pompano Beach and Fort Myers facilities. Based on a patient’s symptoms and level of abuse, heroin addiction treatment programs may include medically assisted detoxification, behavioral therapies and experiential therapies (e.g. yoga, meditation, equine therapy and art therapy). For more information on our evidence-based recovery programs or to locate our Florida heroin detox treatment center, call our 24/7 helpline number or chat online with a representative.
Sovereign Health Group is a leading addiction, dual diagnosis and mental health treatment provider. Call our admissions team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to get the help you deserve.