Heroin is a highly addictive form of opioid morphine derived from certain poppy plants. Heroin use has increased exponentially in the last fifteen years within Ohio and the nation. The largest factor related to heroin use has been the misuse and addition of opioid prescription medication.
This shift from prescription drugs to heroin is due to a number of factors, primarily the increasing availability of heroin, coupled with the shutdown “pill mills”, increased prescribing guidelines and reporting systems for tracking prescription opioids. With increasing availability, heroin has become a cheaper alternative for prescription opioid abusers.
Heroin can be snorted, smoked or injected. The short-term effects of use include rapid euphoria, clouded mental functioning, slowed breathing, suppression of pain, nausea and vomiting. Long-term users face the risk of abscesses, bacterial infections, collapsed veins, and an increased risk of infectious diseases.
Once the initial effects of the drug kick in, users typically end up feeling drowsy for several hours. Their mental functioning remains clouded due to heroin’s effect on the central nervous system and their cardiac function slows down. Breathing becomes severely slow and depressed, sometimes to the point of death.