Heroin abuse & overdose: the risks
Heroin has a long-standing reputation of being one of the most deadly substances of abuse. However, despite the fact that the dangers of this drug are well-known, many individuals still become trapped in a pattern of compulsively abusing this perilous substance.
As an individual continues to consume heroin, his or her body rapidly becomes accustomed to the presence of the drug in its system. This is known as tolerance and, when it occurs, the individual must then ingest more heroin or ingest it more frequently in order to achieve the same effects. As this heroin use continues to increase in the person’s attempts to adapt to that tolerance, an individual may quickly find that he or she has become physically dependent on the substance. Once this form of chemical dependency has developed, it becomes exceedingly difficult to put an end to one’s addiction to heroin.
Tragically, an untreated addiction to heroin can bring forth numerous devastating consequences. One such consequence is the ever-present risk of overdose. An overdose on heroin occurs when an individual ingests more of the drug than his or her body is capable of metabolizing. If an individual experiences a heroin overdose and does not receive immediate medical intervention, the outcome could be a grave one.
Signs of heroin overdose
The specific signs that could indicate that someone has overdosed on heroin will vary depending upon a number of factors. Such factors can include the amount of heroin that was ingested, the length of time that the person has been abusing the substance, and the frequency with which the drug is consumed. Examples of various signs that may be exhibited can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Weakened pulse
- Muscle spasms
- Tongue discoloration
- Heart attack
- Lips turning a bluish color
- Labored breathing
- Decline in blood pressure
What to do if a person is showing signs of heroin overdose
If an individual displays any of the aforementioned symptoms, or any additional symptoms that could possibly be indicative of a heroin overdose, emergency medical personnel should be contacted immediately. Calling 9-1-1 could mean the different between life and death. Even if an individual is unsure as to whether or not an overdose has truly occurred, erring on the side of caution is always the best option.
Upon the arrival of emergency medical personnel, providing them with the following information can serve as a great benefit in helping them to begin their interventions:
- The amount of heroin that was ingested
- If the heroin was ingested via inhalation, snorting, or injecting intravenously
- If the person has ever previously experienced an overdose on heroin or any other type of substance
- If the person has any medical conditions or takes medications on a regular basis
- The specific signs that were displayed that led to the belief that an overdose was occurring
If the above information in not known, be honest with emergency responders and inform them of this. Provide any background information that you can, but rest assured that they will still be able to intervene in ways that will most appropriately help the person who has overdosed.
In the majority of cases, if an individual overdoses on heroin, it is a sign that he or she is struggling with a substance abuse problem. When this is the case, it is imperative that he or she receive treatment in order to overcome this detrimental behavior. At Life Center of Galax, we recognize how intimidating the prospect of receiving treatment can be, and we understand the trepidation that comes along with entering a treatment program. For this reason, we strive to provide comprehensive care in a safe and comfortable environment that is truly conducive to healing. Our programming options allow men and women to receive high quality and personalized care that is tailored to meet their specific needs and treatment goals. At Life Center of Galax, new beginnings can emerge as old habits are put to rest.
If you or someone you care for can benefit from the life-changing care offered at Life Center of Galax, please do not hesitate to call us at your convenience.