Every day, more than two people die from opioid overdose in Arizona. Heroin is widely considered to be one of the most deadly drugs in America. Drug use that leads to heroin addiction causes costly and tragic consequences that echo across families and the communities they reside in. After a nearly 75% jump in opioid-related deaths since 2012, Governor Doug Ducey declared a public state of emergency in June of 2017. Recently enacted heroin laws have created harsher punishments for heroin possession in AZ, increasing maximum prison sentencing for repeat offenders from 7 years up to 20. Though Governor Ducey’s emergency order was officially ended in May of 2018, the fight against opioid addiction continues for Arizona families. If you or anyone you love is struggling with heroin addiction, we can help you find comprehensive addiction treatment. Please call 1-888-906-0952 today for more info about heroin addiction and recovery.
How Heroin Affects the Body
Heroin is a powerful depressant drug that is manufactured from morphine. Morphine is extracted from poppy plants primarily grown in Mexico and Asia and is not as potent as heroin. Depressant drugs are sedatives that cause extreme relaxation in the brain and body, such as alcohol and Xanax. The immediate effect of heroin on the body is like a flood of euphoric sensations that vary intensity depending on the method of use and how much taken. Like most illicit substances, the physical side-effects of heroin are devastating to users and their families and can include overdose, coma, and death.
How Does it Work?
Heroin works by influencing different receptors in the brain that transmit information about how you think and feel. Heroin binds with opioid receptors that control pain and cause the excessive production of the “feel-good” chemical, dopamine. The body comes to rely on heroin to feel good, and users do anything to ensure continued drug use. Heroin users ingest the drug by smoking, snorting, or even injecting themselves with a needle. Repeated heroin abuse can lead to a quick and extremely potent addiction that is notoriously tough to overcome. Heroin addiction then subsequently leads to long-lasting mental and physical damage.
Once heroin enters the body, it is converted into morphine that causes a powerful high. But this sudden, enjoyable rush is soon followed by a host of side-effects and reactions. Users can experience mental impairment in their thinking. They can even begin to “nod off” as the body struggles to keep itself awake. Other short-term physical effects include:
Stomach issues like vomiting and nausea
Heating and redness in the skin
Arms and legs that feel weighted
Long-term effects of heroin addiction are more obviously damaging and can consist of:
Kidney and liver dysfunction
Lung problems and infections
Development of abscesses
Development of mental illness
Inflammation and infection in heart tissues
Erratic periods in women
Sexual disorders in men
Opioid Abuse on the Rise in AZ
Arizona continues to see more and more cases of heroin overdose each year with little sign of slowing. Because drug addiction does not discriminate, people of all races, ages, and financial backgrounds become addicted to heroin. Governor Doug Ducey and Arizona officials have enacted a number of programs in response to the exploding number of heroin possession in AZ. Some improvement in the fight against heroin addiction in Arizona has been made as a result of these programs. The more information Arizona families have about heroin addiction, the better they can fend off drug addiction in the community.
An in-depth understanding of this public health situation is required to help battle it. One of the key parts of Governor Ducey’s orders was the creation of an enhanced surveillance system that requires the tracking and reporting of any opioid-adjacent data so that state health officials can get important info in no more than 24 hours. Early tracking shows that:
Men account for more than half of all opioid overdoses with 59%.
Heroin makes up 36% of all opioid-related deaths in Arizona.
Opioid-related hospital visits in Arizona cost around $431 million per year.
People who are 25-34 years old are most likely to overdose.
There was a 20% increase in the amount of opioid-related deaths from 2016 to 2018 from 800 to 949.
How Heroin Arrests Affect the Community
Drug addiction of any kind ultimately affects the children and families of substance abusers the most. Though people who use heroin don’t normally intentionally hurt their families, when the disease of addiction has taken over, they may do or say things that they normally wouldn’t. Deep addiction often drives users to spend money that is meant for rent or bills on drugs. Heroin addiction may lead to job loss or could make a person steal money or items from their family to sell for more drugs. Children of people who get arrested for heroin possession in AZ can be temporarily taken away from an addicted parent until they can show that they can be a fit, drug-free mom or dad. It’s important to consider all of the people affected by your heroin abuse and whether the risk of arrest and prosecution is worth it.
Heroin Possession in AZ
Due to the rapid development of widespread heroin and opioid addiction across Arizona in the last decade, the Arizona Opioid Emergency Response program was created as a way to combat the drug and its devastating effects. New tracking systems were created to gain as much info as possible along with a new Health Emergency Operations Center with nearly 100 staff members, new testing capabilities, and new guidelines for healthcare workers and clinicians. Local policemen and women were retrained on how to recognize and help a person who is overdosing and existing heroin laws were updated to include stricter jail sentences meant to deter drug dealers.
The Legality of Heroin in Arizona
Federally, heroin is classified as a schedule 1 drug along with ecstasy, LSD, and marijuana. The United States Drug Enforcement Agency states that “schedule 1 drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” In Arizona, heroin laws require that people found in possession of 1 gram or more of heroin face a mandatory minimum prison sentence. This applies to first-time offenders. The consequences for heroin possession in AZ far outweigh the small amount of “reward” that a user gets from abusing it. If you are caught in Arizona in possession of heroin, even a small amount, your life will be permanently changed. A stint in prison profoundly affects not only you but also your family, friends, and job.
In addition to newly created programs to reduce heroin and opioid abuse, the Arizona Opioid Emergency Response included controversial prison-term reforms. Despite facing tough criticism, Arizona enacted a mandatory minimum sentencing law that requires that judges impose a prison sentence regardless of the arrest circumstances or previous arrest history. The minimum prison term imposed for heroin possession in AZ is 5 years. The maximum number of years for repeat offenders was changed to 20. Offenses for heroin laws in Arizona include:
Use or simple possession of heroin
Production of heroin for use or sell
Giving heroin to another person
Possession with intent to sell
Possession of heroin manufacturing equipment
Transfer or transportation of heroin for sale
Possessing heroin through fraudulent means
Treatment for Heroin Addiction
Heroin abuse is part of the gripping disease of addiction and it affects all aspects of life from your health to your children to your romantic relationships and even your pets. Like most chronic disorders, it can be treated and managed with specialized care. The Arizona Opioid Emergency Response shows a current “increased focus on prevention, recognition, and treatment of opioid use disorder in patients receiving long-term opioid therapy”, which resulted from its implementation of various heroin addiction programs.
Rehabilitation treatment can be a major lifeline for people who are struggling with heroin addiction.
A Dual Approach Work Best
Heroin addiction is notorious for being difficult to quit and for causing extreme withdrawal symptoms. Treatment that addresses both mental issues and physical reactions of withdrawal is more successful than when either is administered alone. Withdrawal symptoms and cravings can be combated with medications such as Methadone or Buprenorphine, which affect opioid receptors in the same way as heroin but are much safer. Withdrawal symptoms normally subside within 4-10 days, after which patients can begin some type of therapy. The more access that recovering heroin addicts have to these resources, the more likely they are to abstain from drug abuse. Continued participation in some type of therapy program, and in some cases, outpatient medication services, is key to sobriety for most recovering heroin users.
Types of Talk Therapy
There are several kinds of therapy available while in rehab for heroin addiction. Most therapies involve extensive talking and examination of the behaviors and motivations that led to drug abuse. Though medication helps with cravings, it is not considered a complete treatment. Most addicts who do not follow up with therapy return to drug abuse. The most commonly prescribed types of rehab therapies are:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy. CBTasks that users stop and consider the negative thoughts and feelings that lead to drug use and react differently by employing proven coping mechanisms that fight off those negative thoughts and actions.
Contingency management therapy. CMT offers rewards and incentives for continued positive behavior such as abstinence from drugs in the form of food or entertainment vouchers and chances for cash prizes later in the program.
Motivational interviewing therapy. MIT addresses users who may or may not be ready to stop their drug abuse. Therapists guide patients through personal reasons and rationalizations of their drug abuse to recognize the positive value of stopping substance abuse and addressing their problems.
Find Treatment for Heroin Addiction in AZ
Arizona is in the midst of a crisis-level wave of heroin addiction. As heroin abuse has grown over the last decade, many people have found themselves in the unfortunate position of heroin addiction, which has, in turn, led them to criminal charges. If you, a family member, or a friend are fighting heroin abuse or addiction, we can help you find reliable rehab treatment before it’s too late. You are not alone in this addiction, and many rehab centers are filled with people who are ready to help. Please reach out to us today.
Dani Horn is an Arizona native and graduate of Glendale Community College. Her work has appeared in Raising Arizona Kids magazine and The Arts Beacon digital journal and she has worked on numerous Valley short film projects and music video shoots. She can currently be found writing for A Better Way Recovery Services, hanging with her 2 fantastic kids, or taking photos of her outfits for Instagram. Through ABTRS, she hopes to help others start the journey to sobriety that she herself began over a year and a half ago.