NO 24 Heroin U.S.A: Hell Disguised as Heaven

NO 24

by Michael Ericson

A Closer Look at America’s Heroin Epidemic

All across the United States, people are dropping dead from heroin overdoses, which in 2014 caused 10,574 deaths. One of the most common ways heroin users describe what being high on heroin is like is, “It makes you feel like a million bucks.”

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The euphoria caused by injecting heroin into the bloodstream is more intense than any natural human sensation. It releases more dopamine than having an orgasm does. Instead of feeling good from a typical human event that causes happiness, such as being around someone you love or accomplishing a difficult project, heroin users have a shortcut to significantly greater pleasure.

Good feelings evolved as a guide to behaving in a way that will make an organism successful; heroin hijacks this programming to reward the destructive behaviors of wasting large sums of money, damaging veins, and risking imprisonment, overdose and death.

Anyone who has a problem with opiate pain pills should seek help immediately. In 2014 in the United States, an estimated 2 million people were addicted to opiate pain pills and 18,893 deaths resulted in from prescription pain pill overdoses, which is more than from any other drug.

Many people who use heroin start off abusing prescription pain medications such as Vicodin, Fentanyl, Codeine, and OxyContin. They become addicted to opiates and begin using more and more of them. When they are first introduced to heroin, their brains will already be wired to seek out opiate highs. Once they move from pain pills to heroin, an addict’s quality of life will typically deteriorate rapidly.

Re-enactment of heroin user burning heroin on spoon

I interviewed a former heroin addict and here is what he had to say. “It’s wonderful when you start! I started with pills (like most people my age I think). The difference I noticed, though opiates are opiates, is that the dope got me all wrapped up.

I took pills for like 5 years and was a really productive addict. I did heroin for the first time when I was 23 and 6 months later I was literally in prison and in the worst shape of my life. My entire life fell apart and all I cared about was not being dope sick.”

Dope sick is a term for the withdrawals from heroin and other opiates. The early symptoms that start within a day include anxiety, restlessness, muscle aches, extreme cravings, insomnia, heavy sweating and runny nose.

After longer periods of time without using, things become considerably worse. Symptoms of longer withdrawal periods include high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, diarrhea, severe abdominal cramps, blurry vision, nausea and vomiting. Dope sickness is one of the main things that keeps people addicted; it hurts very badly to quit.

Heroin use is a trap that people are constantly falling into. I asked the former addict I interviewed if he recommended heroin addiction to people. He answered, “No. It seems the obvious answer but I feel that just about everybody that does that s**t starts off not really realizing how bad things will become…”

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Kristina, a heroin user in Seattle, Wash, 2015. FRONTLINE/”CHASING HEROIN”

Anyone can become a heroin addict. An estimated 586,000 American adults are addicted to heroin. This drug is so powerful that it can and has destroyed extremely successful and morally upright people.

Heroin users lose motivation to do anything besides get more heroin, which they often display an impressive and almost heroic motivation for. Heroin addicts often steal money and possessions to fund their habit and because of their desperation are more willing to use violent means.

They stop caring about other people and are only interested in getting high and avoiding withdrawals. As my source tells me, “Dope just gets you sick, drains your wallet and morals and generally turns you into the most selfish mother****er possible.”

Kristina, a heroin user in Seattle, Wash, 2015. FRONTLINE/”CHASING HEROIN”

Take it from the man who has been through heroin addiction; getting high on prescription pain pills and heroin should be avoided at all costs. The best way to stop an addiction is to never start.

TOP IMAGE: JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES
Additional Photo Credits:AP