What the Heroin Epidemic is Really Taking from Us

Drug addiction is consistently putting up numbers in the death toll count. Nationally, the number of drug-related deaths increases, as do emergency room visits. No matter the substance addiction, if it continues long enough it eventually takes a victim. David Massi was no acceptation. His mother recalled the day when her son, David, stood up during a toast at his grandmother’s house and lifted his cup to putting the worst year of his life behind him. Less than a month later, he was dead.

David was a premature child. Born in September, he grew up with a joy for fishing and sports. His mother prided David on being a worker; he graduated from Chichester High School as a certified electrician through his vocational courses. New Year’s 2013 held promise for David. He had just been to rehab for a heroin addiction. He was drug-free and full of life. January 27, the medical examiner revealed the cause of death: multiple drug intoxication. According to the same examiner, the death was accidental. A year later, David’s family still believe their loved one would be alive if someone had called for help. He was 27 years old when he died.

The drug problem in America is showing no sign of slowing up. Law enforcement officials in the Pennsylvania area noted that across the nation 70 percent of people in jail were arrested for drug-related offenses.

Massi was not an isolated incident in his family. His younger brother, Nicholas, also suffered from a heroin addiction. David’s success with the drug, and then his seemingly unexpected death is what fueled Nicholas’ entry into rehab and hopeful recovery. Nicholas attended a rehab facility at the same time that David did. While David had successfully completed rehab, Nicholas did not. David’s entire family believed he had beaten his heroin habit and was free to live a new life. He was found right around the corner from his mother’s home at a family friend’s house – a family friend who had no idea David was there.

How Heroin Affects the Brain

Heroin, like all psychoactive drugs, is a very addictive substance. It acts on the brain’s pleasure system, causing it to overproduce dopamine, a chemical produced naturally in the body directly related to how the body experiences pleasure. As heroin is an opiate, there have been several forms that are similar to heroin that have been prescribed as medications. Vicodin and Oxycodone are examples of opiates being used as pain killers. But the price of prescriptions has risen in a society where pharmaceutical drug use and abuse is skyrocketing. Those who could not afford the increases turned to heroin, a decision that not only saved them money but provided a steady substitute for their problems. But as with every addiction, once the person is hooked their lives change drastically. They often neglect their own health in their pursuit for the drug. There are various signs that are observable of those with a heroin addiction.  As the drug is likely to be injected or snorted, spoons with burn marks on them, needles, and cutting instruments might be around the lives of an addict. Heroin comes in a powdery substance most commonly.

Acute effects cause euphoria due to the overproduction of dopamine. Long-term users of heroin can suffer from conditions such as collapsed veins, a degradation of the health and immune system, and liver damage. As addicts have been known to share needles with others, there is an increase to the risk of blood borne diseases like Hepatitis, AIDS, and Tuberculosis. Most drug users do not realize they have a problem and will make excuses for themselves in order to keep up their habit. But in David’s case, he just could not beat the habit.

Reference:

Delaware County Times – http://www.delcotimes.com/general-news/20140105/the-heroin-epidemic-learning-from-davids-story

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