By the end of my speech, the audience will be better informed about the drug use problem in the United States as well as about health and life risks associated with the use of heroin. Drug use is a globally important social problem that needs detailed discussion because increased levels of drug abuse are associated with growing rates of mortality, and heroin addiction is one of the main causes of drug users’ deaths.
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Drug use is a globally important social problem that needs detailed discussion because increased levels of drug abuse are associated with growing rates of mortality, and heroin addiction is one of the main causes of drug users’ deaths.
In the world, about 270 million people suffer from drug abuse. Among them, about 203 million people use cannabis, about 39 million people use opioids and cocaine, and more than 20 million people inject drugs (Degenhardt & Hall, 2012, p. 55). In the United States, injected opioids like heroin are used by about 300 thousand people, and this addiction led to an increase in the overdose death rate in about four times while comparing the data for the years of 1999 and 2009 (Jones, 2013, p. 95).
Introduction of Topic
The statistics can be discussed as shocking and unexpected, but it demonstrates that drug use, and specifically heroin use, is a national and global problem.
Credibility and Relevance
Years ago, I did not pay attention to such statistics, but the widely reported cases of drug abuse and deaths because of overdose among the members of the community made me start studying this topic from many perspectives. Today, I understand the importance of making people learn the aspects of the drug use problem in society, and, especially, the risks of heroin addiction because this problem is related to health and psychological issues, social interactions, and the health of the community.
In order to explain the main aspects of the drug use problem, it is important to overview the issue, identify the features of heroin addiction, and discuss adverse health consequences as well as mortality rates.
The first point that I plan to discuss is the features of the drug use problem in the United States and worldwide.
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- It is important to note that the problem of drug use attracts the attention of the public because it is rather difficult to conduct the accurate estimation of drug users in the United States and globally, but the problem spreads, and there are statistical data that the use of cannabis, cocaine, opioids, and amphetamines leads to dramatic social consequences.
- Thus, the illegality of drugs causes the impossibility to research the actual numbers of people using drugs and situations making these persons initiate drug abuse and harm their health (Degenhardt & Hall, 2012, p. 55). In the United States, the age of the first use of drugs decreases and the popularity of injected drugs grows (Jones, 2013, p. 97).
- The researchers state that drug use is significantly dependent on social factors, and there are risk groups, including young males, persons from disadvantaged social environments, and persons using tobacco and alcohol (Jones, 2013, p. 97). Still, any person can be discussed as in the group of risk because of the psychological state or social interactions (Degenhardt & Hall, 2012, p. 57).
- Thus, the determined groups of risks are rather broad, and they can include different persons who are from low-income or high-income families or nations and who became addicted to drugs because of the impact of relatives or friends, as it is often in the case of heroin addiction.
- Heroin addiction is one of the severest forms of drug addiction because of the specific qualities of injected opioids.
- People often start using opioids in order to relieve pain, and then, to achieve euphoria. However, heroin can also cause coma because of the frequent cases of overdose (Jones, 2013, p. 98). Those persons who are heroin-addicted often cannot get rid of their problem independently because heroin addiction is associated with physical addiction, changes in the brain, reactions, and cognitive processes (Degenhardt & Hall, 2012).
- In addition, heroin users are observed in different social circles, they can become addicted during adolescence, early adulthood, and even late adulthood. These people become addicted quickly because of the qualities of opioids, and they can reject the fact of addiction for a long period of time while harming their health and social life (Sordo, Chahua, Bravo, & Barrio, 2011, p. 149).
- If a person starts using drugs, they change the physical state and health of the individual significantly, and it is necessary to focus on the adverse health consequences of drug use, and heroin addiction in particular.
- Health effects of drug use can be acute and chronic, depending on the period of addiction and the qualities of the drug. In this case, heroin addiction is most harmful to a person.
- The most typical acute health effects of using drugs are intoxication and problems with cognition as well as such psychosocial effects as suicides, accidents, and cases of aggression and violence. Dependence or the chronic use of heroin and other drugs leads to chronic effects like psychosis, mental disorders, organ damage, cirrhosis, cardiovascular disease. It is typical for heroin-addicted persons to suffer from depression, conduct disorders, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C (Degenhardt & Hall, 2012, p. 59).
- Nevertheless, the main problem is in the fact that heroin addiction leads to significant mortality rates among the young population of the United States and other countries because an overdose of injected drugs often causes immediate death and such chronic conditions as hepatitis C, and hepatitis B, and even HIV. The risk of death increases because many heroin addicted persons use the drug in combination with different types of depressants and alcohol (Jones, 2013, p. 99).
- Thus, heroin addiction as any other type of drug addiction damages each part of the person’s life with the main focus on psychological and physical health.
Transition to Conclusion and Summary of Importance
From this point, drug use is a problem that leads to the tragic social situation when numbers of substance users increase, rates of mortality grow, and heroin addiction becomes spread among all the age categories of Americans.
Review of Main Points
Now, it is possible to state that drug use is a problem that is typical for many nations, heroin addiction is one of the most harmful forms of drug addiction, and the consequences of such addiction are often catastrophic for individuals.
Being informed about the risks of drug abuse, people can contribute to protecting society from drug epidemics.
Number of drug-addicted Americans (2012) to support the statistics
Number of deaths from heroin in the United States to support the third point
Degenhardt, L., & Hall, W. (2012). Extent of illicit drug use and dependence, and their contribution to the global burden of disease. Lancet, 379(1), 55–70.
Jones, C. (2013). Heroin use and heroin use risk behaviors among nonmedical users of prescription opioid pain relievers – United States, 2002–2004 and 2008–2010. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 132(1-2), 95-100.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Web.
Sordo, L., Chahua, M., Bravo, M., & Barrio, G. (2011). Depression among regular heroin users: The influence of gender. Addictive Behaviors, 37(1), 148-152.