On 3 November 2015, the Branch County Substance Abuse Task Force of Coldwater, Michigan released another informative article on Heroin abuse and addiction. According to this report, snorting, smoking, and injecting are still the most common methods through which people abuse the drug.
Heroin is a highly addictive drug and goes by many street names that sometimes confuse law enforcement officers. Such names include china white, smack, Mexican black tar, dope, and white horse. Heroin, the report continues to say is an opiate derived from synthetic substances or more commonly from the flowers of the poppy plant.
Unfortunately, all three forms of abuse cause equal levels of addiction without forgetting other serious health concerns. Raw Heroin as well as all other medications derived from opiates including prescribed-opiate painkillers, carry strong risks of addiction and physical dependence.
The report also notes that the reason that heroin is particularly addictive is because it enters the brain very rapidly. According to estimates, almost a quarter of the people who try heroin get addicted to the drug. Just as is the case with many other drugs, heroin users develop a tolerance to the drug requiring higher dosages to achieve similar results over time.
Regrettably, chronic heroin users can experience withdrawal symptoms even after a few hours. Because the drug is a fast high, in the same way it can take over a person’s life and become fatal. Withdrawal from opiates is commonly referred to as “Dope sick.” The symptoms of withdrawal include diarrhea, vomiting, chills, and bone & muscle ache.
Abusers have been known to constantly chase the drug to avoid the illnesses associated with withdrawal, and happens to be a major reason why many abusers do not seek medical assistance. According to the report, the vast quantities of opiate prescriptions (including those written in the branch county) are a precursor to heroin use.
Increased prescriptions of opioids for suppressing pain has increased the accessibility as well as presence of these drugs in communities, increasing the risk of many people abusing opioids and heroin.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA), notes that 97 percent of persons dependent on prescription opioids are Caucasian, when compared to only 54 percent of the entire population of heroin users. Surprisingly, a higher percentage of women chose prescription opioids as the primary drug over heroin use. Employed persons accounted for 60 percent of the population dependent on prescription opioids when compared to only 37 percent of the entire population of heroin users.
With this respect, the Pines Behavioral Health Substance Use Prevention Services has visited several physicians’ offices across the county, on behalf of the Substance Abuse Task Force. This has been in an attempt to provide education on opiate prescription practices as well as safe prescription protocols such as using the State’s prescription monitoring system to reduce multiple physician prescriptions and over prescriptions.
Free Narcan Kits (a medication that reverses effects of heroin overdose) have been given to police, fire, and ambulance departments for safety purposes. The hosting of educational webinars with incentives for completion are also taking place with incentives for completion.