More than almost any other type of drug, heroin carries with it a number of inherent dangers than can, at best, cause serious psychological harm to the individual and at worst, lead to heroin overdose and death. The following information outlines some of the different ways that using heroin can put you or someone you love at serious risk.
Different Ways of Using Heroin
There are three major ways of taking heroin: snorting heroin, shooting heroin, or smoking heroin. Each of these methods carry their own unique dangers, and all can lead to heroin addictions in men and women of all ages.
Any way that an individual chooses to ingest heroin is dangerous. Whether it is smoked or snorted, this powerful opiate can cause addiction and long-term physical and psychological issues. But perhaps no method of using heroin is more dangerous that shooting it into your veins using a needle and syringe. There are a number of additional health hazards associated with shooting heroin that simply cannot be brushed aside with the thought that “oh, it won’t happen to me.”
What Makes Shooting Heroin such a Risk?
There are two primary health hazards associated with shooting heroin (that fall outside of the effects of the drug itself): contracting HIV/AIDS and contracting Hepatitis.
- HIV/AIDS and heroin addiction. The practice of sharing used needles among heroin users has led to a rapid rise in the number of HIV/AIDS cases among addicts. In fact, in many parts of the world, sharing needles spreads AIDS more than sexual transmission.
- Hepatitis and heroin use. Like HIV, Hepatitis is a potentially deadly disease that is spread through the exchange of blood and other bodily fluids. When heroin addicts or users share needles, they are putting themselves at significant risk for contracting the disease.
Other Dangers of Injecting Heroin
In addition to catching potentially fatal diseases, there are a number of other serious issues pertaining to IV heroin addiction that every user should be aware of, including:
- Scars and scabs. Known on the street as “track marks” the scars and scabs left by regular injection of heroin can turn any user into a social pariah. In fact many individuals with a heroin addiction have been known to wear heavy long-sleeved shirts, even in the middle of summer.
- Overdose. One of the most insidious things about heroin purchased on the street is that there is no real way to know just how strong the dosage of the drug actually is until you use it. That means, many people will overdose on heroin not because they took too much heroin, but because the heroin, and whatever other drug they mixed it with, they took was too powerful for them to handle. Unless you’re an addict living in Germany which has government centers that administer dosages of the drug, there is no way to be sure what kind of heroin or how much of it are you taking.
- Social stigma. Addiction to heroin carries with it a strong social stigma. And although many individuals are able to hide their heroin drug addiction for years, those who are “out in the open” may find themselves a pariah among friends and family (concerned about the individuals lack of good judgment or risk of catching a potentially fatal disease.)