An essay written for our final Health project.


There are dozens of addictive drugs out in the world, both legal and illegal. These drugs can range through anything, from Xanax to nicotine, to even methamphetamine. Heroin is also a drug that is illegal and is also one of the most addicting drugs in the world. Heroin is a dangerous substance that can be harmful to your physical health, your social health, and your mental and emotional health.

Heroin is an opioid and is made by harvesting the milky resin from the pod of a poppy plant. This resin is refined to make morphine before be refined even more to make heroin. Heroin looks like a white or brownish powder, or it can look like a black, sticky tar. These substances are usually injected, but they can also be snorted or smoked. Heroin also can go by brown sugar, China White, or cheese.

When a human uses heroin, the brain will release enzymes to convert the heroin back to morphine, its previous form. The morphine will then bind to opioid receptors, which triggers sensations of euphoria, which is much stronger than the body's natural endorphin triggers. This may be due to the fact that the amount of dopamine coursing through the body may be up to ten times the normal amount. Other short-term effects may include a heavy feeling in the hands and feet, clouded thinking, and slowed breathing and heart rate.

Over time, the body's nerves may collapse after constant use of the same area to inject the needle. The skin may develop abscesses, sores, or even holes where the needle was pushed in. Continuous use of heroin will damage the brain's ability to function normally. This damage usually takes place in the central nervous system. After a certain period of constant heroin use, the brain will build up a tolerance, causing the user to have to take more of the drug in to have the same effect. This may continue until no amount of the drug taken will give the desired effects to the user.

Your social health is just as important as your physical health because it gives you interaction with others and helps you to have interpersonal relationships with people. Heroin can ruin that, and it can also have a large impact on society as well. Heroin can cause a number of social problems, especially in close circles. For instance, regular heroin use can lead to the loss of the ability to have honest and responsible behaviors with family and friends. This can ultimately end in a broken marriage, lost friendships, domestic violence, emotional and physical abuse, and financial issues among the family.

Purchasing heroin regularly can drain a family's resources that are normally used for food, housing, and clothing. A heroin addict's daily expense is an average of about $150. In a year, the addict would be spending over $54,000. This leaves no expenses for essentials and, when the user runs out of money, they may start stealing or selling other drugs to make money.

Society also feels the blow of a serious heroin addict's money usage. Crime is very expensive. If someone is caught using an illegal drug, money must go toward state and federal incarceration costs, losses of victims of the crime committed, policing, legalities, and social welfare resources. If addicts manage to keep their job, they may receive lower income. Addicts usually end up losing their job due to increased absences, late arrivals to work, disciplinary problems, or a lack of productivity. Productivity is often lost among businesses because of incarceration, unemployment, and even death. When a person uses heroin, there is a possibility of Hepatitis B & C, AIDS, or tuberculosis. The number of cases with these issues due to drugs can end up increasing health insurance administration costs. If an addict does go to the hospital, money will also go toward the emergency room, the doctor's office, treatments, social welfare, the hospitals themselves, and even possibly abuse shelters and/or child welfare for the children of heroin users.

The mental and emotional health of heroin users is greatly impacted by the drug as well. A person who uses heroin heavily and on a daily basis may start to lose the ability to process information. The addict will start to feel that heroin is necessary to complete even basic tasks. Often, it is next to impossible for addicts to think about anything other than the next high if they have been off of the drug for several hours and, the longer the person doesn't have heroin in their system, the more desperate for relief they become. This desperation changes the person's personality and mood in several ways. Anger, violence, and abuse can all occur, especially during withdrawal. Anxiety and depression are also issues with heroin addicts. They may have insomnia and fatigue as well as a great need for heroin because they know it would stop the effects of withdrawal.

If a heroin addict wants to quit, they will inevitably go through the withdrawal process, which is often a painful road. Withdrawal typically starts about six to twelve hours after the most recent dose of the drug, peaks at two to three days, and then ends after six to ten days. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Mild symptoms include nausea, abdominal cramps, sweating, chills, and/or muscle and bone aches. Medium withdrawal symptoms can range from vomiting or diarrhea, to agitation, to tremors or fatigue. The most extreme symptoms of withdrawal can sometimes lead to thoughts of suicide or self-harm, including insomnia, a deep sense of hopelessness, depression and/or anxiety, rapid heart rate, muscle spasms, impaired respiration, and even drug cravings. However, the results of getting cleaned up and off of heroin are most often lasting and very impactful on the person's life and their health.