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Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction does not discriminate based on age, education level, gender, or economic status. When looking at a demographic breakdown of heroin addicts that reside in the U.S., it is eye-opening to find such a cross-section of Americans who have become addicted to this dangerous and highly addictive drug. Heroin addiction usually begins with recreational use; after using the drug for a period of time, physical dependency will eventually begin to take control of the heroin user's body.

Heroin addiction initially starts through experimentation with the drug; as no one in their right mind would take the opiate for the first time with the goal of becoming dependent on it. After a seemingly short period of time, a heroin user will become physically dependent on the highly addictive drug. As the heroin user develop a tolerance to the drug, they will need to take more and more of it, in order to be able to experience the same high that they originally experienced.

Heroin addiction affects the user mentally, physically, emotionally and socially. A heroin addict does not only crave the drug in order to get high, but they need to take the drug in order to be able to avoid painful withdrawal symptoms; this becomes a double edged sword for those addicts who wish to finally end their dependence on the drug.

Heroin addiction progresses rapidly and an individual who uses it will quickly get to the point where they will need to use the drug several times a day, to avoid getting "dope sick." It is estimated that a person with a heroin addiction will shoot up over 200 times over a 6 month period; it is at this point that needle marks will begin to manifest themselves as "tracks," and trails of tiny scabs will extend up or down the arm or leg in a straight line directly over the top of the vein.

Heroin addiction can have many adverse effects on the user's body, including collapsed veins, infections of the heart lining and valves, and liver disease. Pulmonary complications, which may include pneumonia and acute respiratory infections, can occur due the user's compromised immune system, as well as from heroin's depressing effects on the respiratory system. Heroin addiction can commonly cause collapsed veins, bacterial infections, skin abscesses and other types of soft-tissue infections. Pregnant women who use heroin are reported to be at a much higher risk for having a miscarriage as well as for experiencing premature delivery.

Many heroin addicts in the United States have switched from injecting the drug to snorting and smoking it; most of these users are under the false belief that they can avoid heroin addiction, as long as they do not inject the opiate, but this is not the case. Addicts that inject heroin increase their risk of contracting hepatitis, HIV or other blood born diseases, due to sharing dirty needles with infected individuals. Often, people who are struggling with a heroin addiction are unaware of their own health problems and will unknowingly share their contaminated paraphernalia.