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What is the Cost of Heroin Addiction?

Heroin despair -- cost of addiction

How does one calculate the cost of an addiction to heroin? Certainly there is a cost in dollars. But the actual price paid extends much further than that. Its felt throughout ones life, relationships, standing in the community and physical and mental health. Lets look at the whole phenomenon of heroin addiction and evaluate the price thats paid.

Heroin users typically report feeling a rushof pleasurable sensations after taking the drug. The degree of this rush varies by how much of the drug is taken and how quickly the drug enters the brain. Injecting will cause the rush to occur suddenly and most intensely. Snorting heroin will cause the rush to be somewhat less intense and a little slower.

After the initial rush, the side effects of heroin include dry mouth, nausea, vomiting and a heaviness in the arms and legs. The user experiences a slowed heart rate and slowed breathing, sometimes dangerous enough to be life-threatening. If a person lacks oxygen to his (or her) brain long enough, he can suffer a coma and permanent brain damage. These short-term effects can happen during the very first use.

The long-term effects created by heroin include damage to the physical structure of the brain. Studies of the brains of heroin users have documented this deterioration of brain tissue. This damage can affect the users decision-making abilities, his ability to regulate his own behavior or his response to stressful situations.

The more a person uses heroin, the more his body becomes accustomed to the drug. He will need to use more of the drug more often just to achieve the any of the euphoria he initially experienced. This phenomenon is referred to as a toleranceto the drug. Eventually, a heroin user is just consuming the drug to keep from going into withdrawal and no longer experiences any euphoria or pleasure from it.

The increased use that accompanies an increased tolerance boosts the risk of infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C, bacterial infections, collapsed veins and infection of the heart lining and valves.

When a person consistently uses the drug, cant control his use and has developed a tolerance, he is addicted. If he stops using the drug, he will experience severe withdrawal symptoms.

The price to purchase heroin varies from state to state and whether a buyer lives in an urban or a rural area. On average, it costs about $15 to $20 per tenth of a gram. When a person becomes addicted, its easy to go through a gram each day. In New York, a person addicted to heroin might be burning through $100 a day, and in Florida, he might need $150 a day to maintain his habit. At this point, many people have to resort to theft, prostitution or other illegal activities to support the addiction.

In some areas, heroin is being cut (diluted) with a prescription painkiller called fentanyl. While fentanyl has long been used as a painkiller in hospitals, the fentanyl being used to cut heroin today is usually manufactured in illicit drug labs which means the costs are very low. This means the drug dealer can make his supply of heroin go farther and make more money. No matter where its manufactured, fentanyl is vastly stronger than heroin. Even experienced heroin users are being killed by this adulterant.

So what is the cost of heroin addiction? Heroin causes physical, sometimes irreversible, damage to the structure of the brain, slowed heart rate and breathing, coma and death. Theres the increased risk of HIV, Hepatitis B and C, collapsed veins and heart infections. Financially, heroin may cost a user as much as $50,000 per year, which increases their risk of incarceration if they get caught committing crimes or buying the drug. If this is not shocking enough, the biggest cost of heroin addiction is the life of the addict.

With each use the person is playing roulette with his or her life. That is the biggest cost of heroin use — the life of the user. If you or someone you know uses heroin, please get help now because the next time they use this drug could be their last.

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