Having an addiction of any kind is dangerous. However, one kind of addiction that involves the most amount of health risk is drug addiction. Drug addiction is an ill that can rear its ugly head no matter who you are, and that is reason enough to take notice of it. Sadly though, despite what many people would like to believe, addiction to drugs is still very much a part of modern society, and the numbers surrounding the addiction are mind boggling to say the least. According to figures provided by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, around 167 to 315 million people falling under the age category of 15 to 64 had used an illicit substance. In addition, in America alone, over six million children live with a parent who is a drug addict. The worst part about drug addiction is that when left uncontrolled, it can quickly lead to death, and the figures prove this, as since 1980, the number of drug overdose related deaths has gone up by a massive 540%.
There are many kinds of drugs available today. These drugs fall under two major categories, prescription drugs, and recreational drugs. Prescription drugs are not dangerous like recreational drugs are, although over use of any can have deadly side effects. Prescription drugs are prescribed by doctors for medical purposes, and include basic pain killers to morphine. Recreational drugs on the other hand, are the most damaging, and it is their usage that is the most risky as well. It is important to note though, that some drugs fall under both the categories, and one such drug is heroin. Heroin is one of the most addictive and widely used illegal drugs in the world. Be it film actors or musicians, heroin addiction spares nobody. Before divulging in the details though, it is necessary firstly to have a look at the drug's history, and find out exactly how heroin came into being.
Heroin was first manufactured in 1898 in Germany by the famous Bayer Pharmaceutical Company. The drug was created to act as a treatment for tuberculosis. More importantly though, heroin was produced to help people overcome morphine addiction which was in its prime during that time. However, morphine itself was created to act as a cure for another addiction that ruled the roost before it, and this addiction was opium addiction. Opium addiction was in its prime in the United States, and morphine was created to act as a non-addictive substitute to help people overcome their opium addiction. Unfortunately, morphine failed to act the way its creators wanted it to, and soon people became addicted to it. The seemingly never ending addiction problem led to the creation of heroin, which was designed to cure morphine addiction. Heroin comes for the opium poppy flower that is found in South America, Mexico, and Asia. Heroin comes in different colors, with pure heroin being white in color, with some being dark brown and some being black. No matter which color it is in though, there is little denying the fact that is heroin is very addictive and dangerous to health. This is the reason why the drug, originally created as a pain reliever, cannot be prescribed legally to patients.
The side effects of heroin are vast, and can be classified under two distinct categories, short term, and long term. Heroin usage causes an initial relaxed feeling and a sense of 'rush', leaving the user in a state of euphoria. However, the side effects quickly start to creep in, and this is where the problems begin. Users immediately suffer from a dry mouth and feelings of nausea and drowsiness are common place as well. More short term side physical side effects of heroin usage include clouded thinking, shallow breathing, uncontrollable itching, and decreased emotional and physical pain. While the short term side effects of heroin addiction are serious, the long term side effects are the most dangerous. Heroin addiction can lead to serious heart problems, with heart infections being a common occurrence. Heroin addiction can also lead to chronic pneumonia, tissue death and blood cloths, liver disease, bacterial infection, seizures, and arthritis. Needless to say, all of these side effects are serious and can lead either directly, or indirectly, to death. The very nature of heroin intake has its side effects as well. Heroin can be taken either injected or smoked, while the purer forms of heroin are inhaled. However, since most addicts tend to inject themselves with heroin, this creates even more health issues such as the risk of AIDS. In addition, addicts also develop scars over the area where the injection goes in.
One of the most damaging aspects to heroin is the fact that addicts cannot let go of their addiction due to the feat of withdrawal. The fear of this feeling prompts addicts to keep using heroin on a daily basis, and the cycle keeps on going on. In addition, not only does heroin affect a person's life from a physical perspective, it is also damaging financially. Addicts spend hundreds of dollars each month to fuel their addiction, and this takes a huge toll on their financial well being.
It is important to note that heroin is also used as a prescription drug, and it is legal for medical purposes in the United Kingdom, where it is available in either tablet or injection form. Heroin is also available in countries such as the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, United Kingdom and Denmark as a long term prescription drug. In the UK, heroin is used to relieve pain, and the pain relieving properties the drug has are very effective. Heroin is used to help curb pain from physical trauma, chronic pain, and post surgical pain. In other countries though, the drug Morphine acts as an alternative to heroin. Interestingly, heroin has a lower side effect profile than morphine.
Although authorities worldwide have been trying their best to curb heroin usage, the task is a daunting one to say the least. Heroin trafficking is a huge business, and there are many powerful players behind it (Mexican Cartels). Heroin trafficking is widespread, with the largest producer of heroin being Afghanistan. According to 2004 figures, Afghanistan produced 87% of the world's heroin, and Afghan heroin alone kills over 10000 people each year. Opium production is a field that employs many Afghans, and it is the reason why Afghanistan produces so many heroins. However, it is not only Afghanistan that produces heroin. In recent times, South Asian countries such as Burma, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos have all increased their heroin production, leading to more trafficking worldwide. Although many countries have employed strict punishments (death penalties) for drug trafficking, the supply of illegal drugs is a booming business. The matter is made worse by the presence of some powerful players, such as the Mexican drug cartels. These cartels possess immense power in Mexico, and despite the combined efforts of the American and Mexican government to curb their power, the drug cartels are still going strong. In fact, such is the power of some cartels that their presence in some areas is enough for the locals to steer clear.
It goes without saying that drug addiction has serious implications on both the user, and its surroundings. The side effects of a drug like heroin are countless, and the situation is made worse by the fact that many addicts are unwilling to confess and come forward with their addiction. Therefore, by the time other people find about an addict's state, it is mostly too late for help, as the addiction has become too strong to be sidelined. It is the truth, and an unfortunate one at that, that the use of heroin and related drugs is here to stay. If anything, the availability of such drugs has become even more common, and it is high time that strict action must be taken to prevent the addiction from growing any further. The best option is to adopt a universal approach that aims to get rid of drug trafficking by combining the efforts of different nations. For now though, all the world can do is take one step at a time, and hope for the best.
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