In the mid-1800s, opium was everywhere. As popular as bars and clubs are today, opium dens were places where people could buy the drug, smoke it, and lounge for hours (or days) at a time, without worrying about their responsibilities. Opium was the drug of the masses, enjoyed by men and women, rich and poor; we read today about famous people and characters visiting dens, from Thomas Jefferson to Sherlock Holmes. Around the turn of the century, opium dens were outlawed across the West, and the drug became heavily regulated.
Then, heroin was born.
In truth, the opium poppy has been used medicinally, spiritually, and recreationally by humankind for thousands of years. However, because opium is less concentrated than its modern, synthesized varieties — including prescription opiates as well as heroin — it is only recently that the drug abuse has become a serious, society-threatening problem.
Bayer Pharmaceuticals is primarily responsible for the modern heroin epidemic. In a desperate search for a less addictive form of morphine, Bayer chemists synthesized diamorphine and branded it as heroin, drawing inspiration from a German word meaning heroic and strong. Marketed as a non-addictive cough suppressant, heroin hit stores in 1898 — and by 1914, it would have the highest rates of addiction amongst its users.
Heroin Is Highly Addictive
Despite early attempts to regulate the drug, heroin remains a problem to this day. Colorado heroin rehab centers are overflowing with those seeking recovery from one of the harshest drug abuse diseases on the planet. According to Dr. David Nutt, a respected psychologist devoted to studying the effects of narcotics, heroin is the most addictive substance known to humankind, followed by alcohol and cocaine. Heroin addictions start fast and hard; many heroin users develop physical dependencies after just one use. Worse, tolerance builds fast, so users tend to rapidly increase their consumption — while increasing their risk.
The reason heroin is so addictive lies in its effects on the brain. The brain cells activated by heroin are those responsible for perceiving pain and proffering reward, so when users get high, they stop feeling all discomfort and experience, instead, an overwhelming euphoria. In fact, joy is typically the only memory users have of their heroin experiences — world-shattering, body-numbing, irresistible joy. In comparison, other experiences are dull and often painful; the body and brain begin to crave that overpowering pleasure, and the addiction is born. Even after just one use, users should consider finding a trustworthy Colorado heroin rehab to curb a developing (and devastating) dependence.
Unfortunately, bliss isn’t heroin’s only symptom. The drug also targets cells that control heart rate and breathing, causing both to slow to dangerous rates. While high, users are described as “on the nod,” meaning they yo-yo between conscious and semi-conscious states, causing their heads to jerk about. While their mental functions are so clouded, users can stumble into dangerous situations.
If the blossoming substance abuse doesn’t cease after one or two uses, users are prone to developing even worse symptoms. Because heroin is most often injected, many users suffer collapsed veins in their arms and legs, making future medical treatment difficult and potentially killing entire regions of body cells. Similarly, areas around injection sites might fill with pus, becoming painful abscesses. If smoked, heroin causes fluid to build up in the lungs, increasing risks for various types of pneumonia.
More threateningly, heroin is terrible on users’ liver and kidneys — the organs responsible for filtering out the body’s toxins. Users often develop liver or kidney disease later in life, even after quitting the drug and getting sober. Heroin also plagues the reproductive system, often preventing users from becoming stimulated or reaching orgasm. Some women also report menstrual disturbance, which can lead to ovarian cysts and infertility. Worst of all, long-time users are often co-diagnosed with depression, which makes quitting seem impossibly pointless.
Heroin use is on the rise in the United States. According to the National Institute of Health, the number of heroin users doubled between 2006 and 2012, and in 2016, researchers found that heroin use had reached a 20-year high. This is especially alarming considering the fad of heroin-chic that overtook ‘90s fashion. Colorado heroin rehab centers admit people from all walks of life: urban and rural, rich and poor, male and female, black and white. Largely, users are young adults falling between the ages of 18 and 25, but teens and older adults are also afflicted by heroin abuse disorder. Heroin has finally replaced opium as the drug of the masses.
Heroin Isn’t Easy to Treat
Many heroin users come to the drug after experimenting with other narcotics. Both alcohol and marijuana have been cited as gateway drugs to heroin. Most recently, researchers have uncovered a major trend of prescription drug abusers transitioning to heroin when they run out of prescriptions — or cash. Heroin is relatively inexpensive and provides a noteworthy high, which means it is incredibly attractive to many addicts trying desperately to avoid withdrawals.
However, heroin withdrawal is far from painless. Indeed, as soon as heroin’s high wears off, users begin to descend into the beginnings of withdrawal — which is why so many sprint back to the drug with abandon. During withdrawal, nearly all users experience deep bone pain, intense nausea and diarrhea, flashes of freezing cold, and seemingly interminable insomnia. Though withdrawal symptoms are almost never fatal, especially compared to heroin users’ rates of overdose, they can be so agonizing as to scare users away from recovery. Fortunately, some Colorado heroin rehab facilities offer prescription medications to help wean users off the drug slowly and safely.
Additionally, Colorado heroin rehab centers provide extensive treatment programs, so those suffering from heroin abuse will not only get sober, but they will have a foundation for a drug-free future. The sober community is wide-reaching and unendingly supportive, so even after leaving the Colorado heroin rehab, recovering addicts will find peers and encouragement to continue avoiding that life-ruining drug called heroin.
Get Help Today
If you suffer from a drug addiction, you are worthy of help, and you can find it at Colorado rehab centers. There, you will receive treatment for any and all disorders from which you might be suffering. You may receive new prescription medications to help you recover from your physical dependence, as well as drugs to help you combat co-occurring mental disorders. Treatment is designed around your specific needs, generally dependent on the drug(s) you abuse and the pain you are suffering. Perhaps more importantly, you can find a community of those recovering from a variety of drug-related addiction problems, so you will not feel as alone in your fight against drug abuse. Plus, Colorado rehab centers are beautiful and comfortable, to make your recovery from drug addiction especially smooth.
It is time for our society to rethink our stigmas about drugs — and it is time for all sufferers of drug abuse disorders to gain the help they need.