Some forms of drug use are so dangerous that the government and individual communities will do almost anything to try to lessen the damage. When it comes to drugs like heroin, governments in the United States and the UK have long come up with unorthodox ways of trying to help users stay healthier. Despite the possibly good intentions, are they actually helping anyone when they actually contribute to helping addicts use drugs?
Why Heroin Use is So Dangerous
One of the reasons that heroin is so dangerous actually has nothing to do with the drug itself. Make no mistake – heroin is incredibly damaging to the human body. It can suppress your heart rate and breathing rate to the point that you become unconscious and die. Many people overdose on the drug every year and die for exactly this reason. Another way that the drug is dangerous simply has to do with how the drug is introduced to the body.
Many users will heat up the drug until it melts into a liquid. This liquid is then drawn up into a hypodermic needle (such as the needles that are used by diabetics to administer insulin.) The drug is then injected directly into one of the addict’s veins. This helps the drug shoot to the brain very quickly and creates a powerful high.
The problem for many addicts is that they can’t get their hands on clean, sharp needles. In many areas you have to have a doctor’s prescription to buy needles, after all. If they can’t get their hands on needles, many heroin users will simply borrow a needle from a drug-using friend. The problem with doing this is that diseases such as Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS travel through a victim’s blood, and sharing needles is one of the main ways that these diseases travel from person to person.
One way that public health officials try to lessen the rates of infection of these diseases is to give out the needles used by addicts for free. The new method that officials in the UK are trying is by simply switching addicts over to a new method of using the drug: heating it up on foil and then inhaling the vapors. There’s a health risk with this method, too, however.
How Could Foil Be Dangerous?
Another risk to users that already use foil to heat up the drug is that some foil contains ingredients that are toxic to breathe in. That’s because some brands of foil have a vegetable oil coating. This helps in cooking food, but it is toxic to breathe in. Public health officials are worried that heroin addicts are harming themselves by breathing in this vaporized oil at the same time they’re inhaling heroin fumes.
The irony here is that the government appears to be trying to help users stay safe from the potentially mild danger of vaporized vegetable oil while seemingly doing nothing to help them stop breathing in vaporized heroin! It may be true that both are dangerous, but isn’t breathing in heroin more dangerous? The government of the UK may want to devote more of its time and energy to actually stopping addicts from using heroin in the first place. This will stop the danger of breathing in vaporized vegetable oil at the same time.
If we really want to help all drug users to get healthy and to be free of the risks of drug use, we need to stop just looking for new ways of helping them use drugs. Instead, we need to look for ways to get them off of drugs altogether.