In the early months of 2014, the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder identified heroin addiction as an “urgent public health crisis,” advising heroin addicts and their families to carry injectable naloxone as an antidote to heroin overdose. However, Dallas-Fort Worth heroin addicts don’t have that option, as Texas is one of 43 states that still prohibit naloxone syringes in the medical kits of first responders. So what’s a person to do?
First, be aware that naloxone cannot guarantee the safety of someone who’s abusing heroin. There are risks associated with naloxone administration, including a resulting acute withdrawal syndrome, putting the person at risk of dangerous respiratory depression, and the stimulation of catecholamine release that results in unstable heart rhythms and possible heart attack. So naloxone is not the panacea touted by many.
When Holder indicates that he’s seen a 45 percent increase in heroin addiction over recent years, Dallas County Health Director Zach Thompson agrees: He says that today’s numbers of deaths and addiction from heroin are reminiscent of those that occurred from cocaine abuse in the 80s. Instead of reaching for naloxone or becoming engaged in the cross-country growing cultural acceptance of marijuana, Thompson urges, it’s more important to educate the public about heroin addiction and provide addicts with access to substance abuse treatment clinics, including methadone clinics in North Texas.
Most people fail to understand basic facts about heroin addiction:
- People think they aren’t as likely to become addicted to heroin if they just snort it instead of injecting it. Heroin is addictive no matter how you use it.
- People who live in upper-middle-class families and turn to heroin when they can no longer get pain pills think they will not fall victim to the same health issues as typical addicts. However, 80 percent of patients who present at methadone clinics are positive for hepatitis C.
- A person using heroin risks death for up to three hours after his dose, no matter whether he injected, snorted, or smoked. Many heroin addicts who overdose end up dead because their friends fear legal reprisals from calling the police.
There are methadone clinics in North Texas that offer safe options for stopping heroin use by helping people to stabilize their drug use and avoid recurring patterns of abuse. It’s worth your time to call a heroin addiction clinic and find out what to expect, and how you can save your life.