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Health Hazards of Heroin Use

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The incidences of heroin use and consequential deaths have been in the news lately. Heroin use among Americans is up and according to the CDC “Illicit drug use overall in America has been increasing. In 2012, an estimated 23.9 million Americans aged 12 or older—or 9.2 percent of the population—had used an illicit drug or abused a psychotherapeutic medication (such as a pain reliever, stimulant, or tranquilizer) in the past month. This is up from 8.3 percent in 2002. The increase mostly reflects a recent rise in the use of marijuana, the most commonly used illicit drug.” As many as 4.2 million individuals in the US have used heroin and 23 percent admitted dependence.

Heroin, an opiod and derivative from morphine, can be used in various ways -- injection, smoking, and snorting. Heroin is highly addictive as the user craves to achieve the same intensity as the previous; therefore, using more in less time, making overdose likely. Heroin has a number of serious health affects that includes miscarriage, hepatitis, HIV via needle use, the development of “collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, constipation and gastrointestinal cramping, and liver or kidney disease. Pulmonary complications, including various types of pneumonia, may result from the poor health of the user as well as from heroin’s effects on breathing.” The recent deaths in the Cleveland/Akron areas may be due to contaminants in heroin that causes damage to internal organs and clogs the brain, lungs, kidneys, and liver.

Heroin is killing Ohioans in record numbers. From 2007 to 2012 heroin has killed at least 161 known individuals; that number is expected to increase as high as 24 percent in 2014. Heroin is a killer; if it doesn’t kill you, it doesn’t make you stronger, it makes you vulnerable to the next time and next time the user will be a statistic.



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