Heroin has a really, really bad reputation. It is touted as the worst drug on the face of the planet. Pictures of its users usually include homeless people in alleys shooting it up with dirty needles. What many people know about heroin is from what they see portrayed on television. Heroin and heroin users are surrounded by a cloud of hysteria, horrific media, and quick judgment. We are here to set the record straight. Because while heroin, yes, is very dangerous and addictive, some of what you may or may not know about this drug and its users are myth not fact.
And it is time to debunk the myths. This is drug myths debunked: Heroin.
Myth #1: Heroin users are dirty, broke, homeless people who use needles
The recent death of Glee star Corey Monteith should have laid this myth to rest but this myth will probably go on for as long as there are homeless people in alleys that are using heroin. Because the truth is yes, many homeless people shoot up heroin in alleys but they aren’t the only ones. Heroin use is not resigned to the broke “junkies”. There are many white collar, kids even, who are snorting or smoking (not shooting up) heroin with their weekly allowance. Not only that but there are people who seem very clean cut and put together such as Corey Monteith that use heroin. Heroin use doesn’t discriminate and heroin users are not as easily characterized as you may think. There are kids who go to a great college, get a degree, and all the while have an intense and life threatening heroin addiction. Heroin addiction can affect anyone despite their economic standing, education, race, sex, and location.
Myth #2: Heroin is more dangerous than alcohol.
This myth is false. Heroin is not more dangerous as alcohol. Alcohol is just as dangerous as heroin. The truth is alcohol in a lot of ways is even more dangerous than heroin. Alcohol just happens to be more socially accepted. The reasons that alcohol is more dangerous than heroin could go on and on. For instance, that the withdrawal from alcohol could kill you and heroin withdrawal is not fatal. Alcohol’s effects on the body and brain are much more intense and long lasting. Heroin has some medical benefit as an opiate even though it is an illicit drug whereas alcohol has none. Just because a drug is socially accepted or not socially accepted doesn’t make it any more or less safe.
Myth #3: If you try heroin even once you will become addicted immediately
Addiction is a complex disease that takes a while to develop. It is not the same as physical dependence – you can be physically dependent on a substance but not addicted. It takes time for a heroin user to develop physical tolerance and even though it is a very addictive substance the true state of addiction will also take some time to manifest. This doesn’t mean that trying heroin even once is safe. It just means that if you do or have done heroin once and then never used it again this is why.
Myth #4: About what to do when someone overdoses on heroin
There are many myths about overdosing and what to do if someone is overdosing or on how to prevent overdosing. These myths include putting someone in a bath or shower which can lead to drowning and death. Slapping, hitting or pinching a person will not rouse a person into consciousness nor will trying to make them walk around when they are slipping into unconsciousness. Some people believe that inducing vomiting will reduce the drug affects but this is dangerous and may lead to choking. Some intravenous drug users believe that injecting a person with another drug, such as amphetamines or adrenaline when they are overdosing on heroin, will reverse the overdose (remember the scene from Pulp Fiction? In reality, intracardiac injection is old fashioned and an extreme last resort, and, Narcan, not adrenaline, is used to revive a heroin OD). Salt water and milk injection are also other common myths. The fact is if someone is overdosing on heroin you need to call 911 immediately. Someone who is overdosing on heroin is not going to just kill over like many people think either. Many times a heroin overdose is gradual and the breathing will slowly stop. So there is time. Get help!
Heroin is a dangerous drug that should not be taken lightly. The best way to prevent heroin use and heroin overdose is to know the facts. Heroin abuse and knowledge about heroin that is based in myth is not effective and can lead to many problems and in the worst case scenarios such as heroin overdose, death. Know the facts, know the truth and share it.
If someone you know is in need of treatment for heroin addiction, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.