It’s very easy to point to reports in the news about the threats associated with heroin and other opioids and opiates. Almost unanimously, the ‘boogie man’ of use is the often inevitable overdose that comes at the end of a severe addiction, with many overdoses resulting in either permanent damage to the nervous system or body. However, there are almost an uncountable number of other negative effects to addiction to these substances that become higher and higher as substance use disorder develops in a person.

One of the key identifiers of someone who is suffering from addiction is putting aside safety and ignoring objective positive alternatives in order to feed the craving of the substance of use. With opioids, often times, drug use is simply a way to get rid of the withdrawal symptoms. Each drug carries with it it’s own set of what you might just consider ‘Russian Roulette’ that comes with illicit drugs.

Some of the most devastating have been the spread of bloodborne pathogens and some STDs through the use of previously used needles. During the 80’s and 90’s and even into the 00’s, there were clearly identified pockets of HIV and AIDS spread that happened specifically within heroin users. While these two diseases aren’t exactly the same death sentence it was when it first appeared as an epidemic in the 80’s, it’s still a physically and financially crippling disease that is even more devastating than maybe even heroin addiction itself.

One thing that often gets understated when it comes to buying illegal drugs is the actual quality of the substance itself. Without an established regulatory body that ensures public safety or purity of product, it’s quite easy to stumble into a botched batch and by the time this bad product is identified, it’s usually because it’s already affected the user negatively. Fentanyl has been popping up in heroin and cocaine around the country, which can kill with just a .1 grams mixed into an otherwise non-lethal dose of anything. Recently, a batch of heroin was found containing a bacteria that causes botulism, a condition in which the bacteria attacks the nervous system causing breathing difficulties, muscle paralysis and even death if not treated almost immediately after the first symptoms present themselves.

Discovery InstituteThen there’s the financial side of things. Often times, the inhibiting of clear focus and side effects of drug use make holding down a job difficult, but because the cravings are so strong, this often leads to risky behavior including, but not limited to, lying to loved ones, stealing, and even putting one’s self into harm’s way by going into places to purchase which might be particularly rough neighborhoods where dealers protect their market through force. And this is all before considering the legal consequences of being caught with or buying the drug.

But addiction, when severe, will make a person ignore all of these immediate risks. Getting treatment, that typically begins with a NJ detox center, followed by rehab in New Jersey, can help a person suffering from substance use disorder find sober living in NJ. If you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction, call Discovery Institute at 844-478-6563.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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