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Is My Son Addicted to Heroin?

Over the past several years, there has been an increase in the number of people of all ages who are addicted to heroin, a trend which is closely linked to the widespread use of opioid-based pain killers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin, prescription drugs which are legally available and frequently abused. Because heroin is a drug which is also an opiate, many individuals tend to see it as simply a more potent version of drugs which are legally available and don't feel any qualms about trying it out and getting a better "high." According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, males are much more likely to use and become addicted to heroin. Sons of all ages are at risk for being exposed. If caught early, however, parents and loved ones have a better chance in getting the help needed for their son in order to fight the addiction.

Signs of Heroin Addiction:

How can you find out if your son is a heroin addict? There are several warning signs of heroin addiction, including the sudden appearance of unexplained needle tracks on a user's arms or legs since intravenous injection is the preferred method. Impaired judgment, unexpected sleepiness at odd times and extreme behavior changes will manifest themselves as a result of your son's heroin abuse; as his nervous system becomes more dependent on the drug, he will channel more of his time and efforts into acquiring more heroin. Eventually, sharp withdrawal symptoms, such as uneasiness, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea, and body chills, will appear with growing frequency and with shorter time intervals between doses. Even worse, the use of infected needles may result in the transmission of communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C.

Heroin is more potent when it is introduced into the body via intravenous injection; it reaches a user's brain in less than 10 seconds and gives off the greatest "rush." When smoked or snorted, the drug takes between 10 and 15 minutes to reach the brain's pleasure center and the rush is not as intense. During a heroin high, the user's skin usually exhibits a flush, his breathing will slow down, and his fingers and toes will feel somewhat heavy. His eyes will become unusually dilated, and his head may bob back and forth in a nodding manner, known as "the nods." Heroin addicts tend to be defiant and oppositional when asked about drug use, and will at first vehemently deny any accusations of heroin use. In addition, heroin addicts typically sleep for long periods of time after they have came down from a high, and will often spend their waking days grouchy, depressed, unmotivated, and lazy. His appearance will start to change over time. Showers become less frequent, clothing is unkempt, hair is messy, and there is a general uncaring attitude about proper hygiene. Being late or not showing up for school or work, missing appointments, neglecting responsibilities, and avoiding social situations are all common of the heroin addict. Keep in mind, however, that these warning signs are indicative of several different scenarios, and are only suggestive of heroin addiction if all of the above factors are combined. For example, your son may constantly show up late for work and neglect his hygiene, but this behavior alone is not enough to indicate heroin addiction. However, if you've found burned spoons and aluminum foil, and your son has needle marks on his arms, then the red flags of heroin addiction are clear, and an intervention is imperative.

Heroin: A Brief History

Though many people associate heroin with the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, the drug actually originated in the late 19th century as a panacea to morphine addiction. A synthetic derivative of morphine, a natural painkiller which is extracted from the opium poppy, heroin can be smoked, snorted or injected intravenously via hypodermic needle. It was first made in the mid-1870s in Great Britain in an attempt to create a safe substitute for the highly addictive morphine, but it was not widely used until 1897, when Bayer, the German pharmaceutical company best known for inventing aspirin, synthesized and trademarked heroin on its own. Even though it was marketed as a safe substitute for morphine, heroin was soon known for producing fast and intense highs called "rushes," and gained its well-deserved reputation for being highly addictive and dangerous. It was taken off the legal market in the 1910s, but it has continued to be processed and sold illicitly in many countries, including the United States.

Sources: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin-abuse-addiction/how-heroin-used


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