The heroin epidemic has left a trail of tears across America. In 2017 alone, more than 15,000 people died from a heroin overdose. That’s a fatality rate five times larger than it was in 2010.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that some 500,000 people reported using heroin at least once during that year. Alarmingly, the heroin epidemic is extending into communities previously unaffected.
How did the heroin epidemic reach such enormous proportions, to the point that the federal government deemed it a public health emergency? There are many factors. But it’s clear many people need what a heroin detox center provides.
What is Heroin?
Before examining the history, it’s important to understand what heroin is and where it originates. Heroin derives from morphine, a “seed pod” taken from opium poppy plants grown in Asia, Mexico and elsewhere, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
It is highly addictive, illegal — and deadly. You’ll hear it referred to by various street names such as “the Big H,” black tar (for its appearance) and hell dust, the HHS says.
Ironically, doctors once thought of heroin as a wonder drug. The drug company Bayer produced it on a commercial scale in Germany in the late 1800s as a potential treatment for tuberculosis. But reports of dependency started almost immediately, the heroin was soon taken off the market.
How Did the Heroin Epidemic Begin?
The current heroin epidemic grew out of an increase in the prescription of opioid-based pain medication such as OxyContin and Vicodin starting around 1990, according to HHS. At the time, doctors were being assured that these types of drugs had a low risk of addiction.
But rates of misuse skyrocketed, with overdose deaths surging through 2009. At that point, health care professionals ratcheted back their prescriptions. Patients, desperate for help, turned to heroin as an alternative.
A subsequent phase of the epidemic saw increased use of fentanyl and other synthetic opioid compounds. The heroin epidemic remains a public health crisis. As of 2018, the CDC estimated that 128 people per day were dying from opioid overdoses.
The Harm of Heroin
Heroin’s danger stems from its sneaky potency. Upon initial consumption, users report a surge of warmth and calm — even a sense of euphoria.
But the withdrawal phase leads to cravings for more, and the path to addiction begins, requiring higher and higher doses to create the same sense of good feelings. According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, signs of heroin use and abuse can include:
- Fading in and out of consciousness
- Flushed skin
- Dry mouth
- “Track marks” on arms from injection
Therefore, finding a specialized heroin addiction rehab center in an effort to combat the growing heroin epidemic is vital.
Help is Available
Abuse of heroin, opioids, and other substances is real, and you can’t fight it alone. This is why you need a heroin detox center. Here you’ll receive individual and group therapy, medication treatment, and other support for addictions of all kinds, including alcohol.