Heroin Abuse & Addiction in Ohio
Towns and cities throughout the state of Ohio – whether they are the larger cities of Cincinnati, Cleveland or Columbus or the smaller towns – have been devastated by the opioid epidemic that is running rampant. This is affecting the entire nation, but Ohio has not escaped the crisis. At the center of this crisis is the street drug, heroin.
Heroin Addiction in Ohio
According to CNN, while opioid use is a serious problem across the United States, “Ohio has been one of the states hit hardest by the crisis. In 2016, 86% of overdose deaths in the state involved an opioid.” Many Ohioans each year become addicted to opioid pain medications. Some of those addicts will eventually turn to heroin for their high. It is anticipated that there will be 800 annual opioid deaths in Montgomery County alone. Staff at the morgue call the opioid crisis a mass fatality crisis. The problem has strained not only emergency services and the morgue, but it has also challenged other systems such as the foster care system. The problem is unprecedented, and the solution is to both prevent and treat it.
What is Heroin and What is Heroin Abuse?
Heroin is an illegal drug that is classified as an opiate. Derived from morphine, it is available in different forms such as white or brown powder or a black tar-like substance. It is similar to prescription opioids in the way that it acts on the brain, but unlike these prescription medications, there are no legal, medical uses for the drug.
Heroin can be snorted, sniffed, smoked or injected. Often, it’s mixed with crack cocaine, which is sometimes called “speedballing”.
Like other opioids, when heroin is taken, it reacts on the brain very quickly by binding to opioid receptors. It impacts the part of the brain that is in charge of pleasure and reward, and it slows down the central nervous system, which means heart rate and breathing are also slowed down.
When someone uses heroin, the short-term effects can include nausea and vomiting, flushing of the skin, impaired judgment or mental functioning and extreme itching. People who have used heroin will often nod out or go in and out of being conscious. Long-term effects of heroin use may include liver and kidney disease, infection of the heart lining, mental disorder or collapsed veins if its injected.
With heroin, overdose is also extremely common. During a heroin overdose, such a high amount is taken that your breathing or respiratory system slows so much that the result is coma and/or death. In recent years, there has been an increase in the deaths caused by heroin.
Is Heroin Addictive?
When people think of addictive drugs, heroin is one of the first things they think of. It is considered to be the most addictive substance there is. A lot of other substances like alcohol or marijuana can be used recreationally without the user becoming physically dependent or addicted. This is virtually impossible to do with heroin. Even if someone uses heroin for the first time, they can become addicted right away due to the way in which heroin affects the brain.
Why is Heroin So Addictive?
Heroin – like other opioids – binds to the opioid receptors that are located in the brain. The substance affects the parts of the brain responsible for reward and pleasure. When they are simulated, the brain is flooded with feel-good chemicals. Then your brain will begin to seek out the substance. Because your brain will seek out the things that make you feel good, it’s so easy for people to become addicted to heroin even after just one use.
While other substances are also psychologically addictive, there is also the physical dependence that your body develops when you take opioids like heroin. The more heroin you use, the more you will build up a tolerance. Then you will need more and more to get the same effect. As you use it for a prolonged period of time, your body becomes physically dependent on the drug. This means that if you try to stop using the drug, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from heroin can be extremely uncomfortable.
Heroin and other opiates are very habit-forming. Not only is it extremely psychologically addictive, but the potential for physical dependence is very real. Everyone is different, but in many cases, an addiction to heroin can develop after just one to three uses.
Heroin Addiction Rate
The opioid epidemic is a real crisis for the entire nation, and Ohio is at the forefront of this crisis. According to statistics compiled by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Ohio reported 527 overdose deaths from heroin in 2019, down from 1,000 heroin-involved deaths in 2017.
Luckily, if you or someone you love is struggling with heroin addiction in Ohio, there are resources available to help you. There are many treatment facilities like The Recovery Village Columbus that will be able to help you find your path to recovery.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Heroin.” 2021. Accessed April 22, 2021.
- NIDA. “Heroin DrugFacts.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, November 21, 2019. Accessed April 22, 2021.
- NIDA. “What are the medical complications of chronic heroin use?.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, April 13, 2021. Accessed April 22, 2021.
- Kaiser Family Foundation. “Opioid Overdose Deaths by Type of Opioid.” 2021. Accessed April 22, 2021.
- NIDA. “Ohio: Opioid-Involved Deaths and Related Harms.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, April 3, 2020. Accessed April 22, 2021.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village Columbus aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.