Heroin Addiction in America
“[Heroin use] is starting, especially in younger individuals — young adults, kids even — with prescription painkillers,” pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears explains. “Those prescriptions are getting harder and harder to get now, but heroin is easier and cheaper to get than the painkillers, so people are moving over to that.”
Heroin is a synthetic opiate made from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the poppy plant. The powerful narcotic is one of the most highly addictive substances in existence. Users are often hooked from their first experience with the drug, and in many cases, one-time use results in death.
Pure heroin appears as a white, crystalline powder. Due to impurities, however, illicit heroin can range from a white to dark brown powder to a black, tar-like substance. This low-purity black tar heroin is typically dissolved, diluted and injected, while higher purity heroin is commonly snorted or smoked.
Once in the body, heroin binds to opioid receptor sites in the brain, which are responsible for the sensations of pain and pleasure, as well as automatic bodily functions like breathing and blood pressure. Chronic use of heroin causes physical dependence, and has deleterious effects on every organ in the body.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 1 in every 4 heroin users will relapse after going through rehab.
“Heroin is one of the hardest [drugs] to get off of, because you have to deal with the underlying issues, and it’s easier for a heroin addict to numb it out,” says addiction and intervention specialist Ken Seeley. “The cravings can go away, but the disease never goes away. I think the most important thing for the families [of heroin addicts] is if you see a relapse happen, take immediate action. Get some professional help to intervene, if they’re not willing to get the help themselves. Don’t let them die. A hundred people a day in this country are dying from this disease.”
• Click here for addiction resources.
Winter Weather Safety
Millions of people in more than 30 states have been slammed by the recent winter storms, leaving many trapped indoors without electricity. “When power goes out and the temperature gets as low as it has been getting in parts of the country that aren’t used to these low temperatures, we start to worry about true health risks — things that can kill us if we’re not prepared,” ER physician Dr. Travis Stork says.
The Doctors share vital tips for staying safe during inclement winter weather .
• More winter storm safety tips.
Health Secrets in Your Reflection
What’s your reflection really revealing? See how your eyes, ears, nose and neck could be pointing out potential health problems!
• Five health clues your lips may be telling you.
• Health secrets your hair can reveal.
Secrets for Better Sex
Has your love life lost its heat? Family medicine physician and sexologist Dr. Rachael Ross shares three hot tips to help reignite the flame in your relationship.
• Get the recipe for The Doctors' "secret sauce" for boosting your performance in the bedroom!
Medical Industry Secrets Exposed
Despite all the checks and balances in the American health care system, medical mistakes inevitably happen. The Doctors share their thoughts on how both patients and physicians can help prevent them from occurring.
"There are guidelines for us doctors, in every specialty. So, I think it’s important for patients to ask their doctors, ‘What is the standard of care? What is the guideline?’” says OB-GYN Dr. Jennifer Ashton.
“It’s OK if you both want to deviate from that, if that’s appropriate, because medicine is not robotic; it’s not cookie-cutter. It should be individualized, but at least know what the guidelines are,” Dr. Ashton adds.
• More tips to prevent medical mistakes.
• Understanding overtreatment.
• Preparing young children for their next checkup.
Surprising Health Secrets
From timing your beauty routine to warding off weight gain, The Doctors share secrets for better health.