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Heroin Abuse

Heroin Use among Teens

Teen Heroin AbuseA recent report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that the number of teenagers trying heroin has risen 80 percent in the last decade, with over 90 percent of heroin abusing teens being from white, middle class, suburban homes. The number of teenage deaths from heroin overdose has more than doubled in that same time frame. Numerous studies show that the rise of heroin use among teens is an extension of the high rates of abuse of prescription pain relievers. Over 50 percent of teenage heroin addicts reported a previous addiction to prescription narcotics, such as Percocet or Vicodin, and making the switch to heroin once it became too difficult, or too expensive, to acquire prescription pills.

Ways Teenagers Abuse Heroin

The most common ways to abuse heroin is either through an intravenous injection, smoking, or snorting the drug. Research by the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that the lowering of heroin prices has correlated into the availability of higher purity heroin that can produce a rush when inhaled that is similar to injected heroin. This increases the appeal of the drug to those who do not want to inject themselves with needles. Regardless of the method of ingestion, the adverse effects and addictive properties of heroin are the same.

Heroin Street Names

When sold on the street, heroin goes by a variety of different names. Some names denote which ingredient is used to cut the heroin. Common street names for heroin are:

  • Smack
  • H
  • Brown Sugar
  • China white
  • Black tar
  • Chiba
  • Junk
  • Snowball
  • Cheese (heroin cut with cold medicine)
  • H bomb (heroin cut with ecstasy)
  • Belushi (heroin cut with cocaine)

Effects of Heroin Abuse

The immediate effect of heroin is the onset of a euphoric rush. Heroin users will also feel a warming of the skin, slowed breathing, and heaviness in the arms and legs. Other short term effects can include dry mouth, nausea, and intense itching. Long term effects of heroin drug abuse can include:

  • Collapsed veins from injection
  • Infection of the lining of the heart
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney malfunction
  • Gastrointestinal cramping and/or constipation
  • Increased risk for blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis

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