We have all heard about the joint operation between the Sri Lanka Police and the Navy, busting a large scale heroin racket that was going on in the country. Fourteen foreign nationals along with one Sri Lankan were apprehended when the largest ever heroin haul in the sea, 110 kilogrammes, was nabbed. We know what heroin is and we have heard what it can do to us. However, there are still many myths that surround this very dangerously addictive drug.

Thus, this week’s FYI decided to bust the myths and establish the facts of heroin and heroin addiction For Your Information

MYTH: Heroin Is only a problem for IV drug users
FACT: The myth that heroin is only used by those who inject drugs using a syringe is untrue. Heroin can be used in several forms, although injection provides the most direct and intense route of delivery. Other methods of ingestion include smoking and inhaling through the nasal passages, known as ‘snorting’. According to research it does not matter what method is used – all can lead to addiction.

MYTH: Heroin is too expensive to pose a real threat to teens
FACT: According to research in the late 1990s, the prevalence of school-aged children having access to and using heroin had nearly doubled over the course of just 10 years. Heroin that is ‘snorted’ rather than injected is cheaper and easier to manufacture, thus lowering the cost for the end user and expanding the use of heroin from the inner cities to the suburbs. Some parents incorrectly believe that teens stick to ‘light’ drugs to party, like marijuana and alcohol. By remaining in denial, parents may neglect to recognize the signs that their teens are using heroin and fail to intervene when it’s required.

MYTH: Teens may believe that heroin is natural, so it’s okay to use
FACT: While this is true (in most cases) for heroin and other illegal drugs, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have negative effects. Many natural substances can be harmful and still have addictive properties that are bad for teens. For example, some of the negative side effects of short-term heroin use can include insomnia, cold flashes, pain in the muscles and bones, restlessness and vomiting. Long-term side effects are even more severe and include malnutrition, liver disease, pulmonary complications and infections that appear in the heart lining and valves, just to name a few of the health problems that can surface. These negative side effects of heroin use prove that even a natural drug can be very bad.

MYTH: It’s okay for teens just to try heroin, and they won’t become addicted
FACT: The reality with heroin is that even one instance of curiosity can lead to a long-term addiction. Teens may also think that trying any drug is okay because their friends are doing it or because their parents have done it in the past. Drug use cannot be justified based on the actions of others, especially not when it can lead to a person ruining their own life. With a better understanding of the facts about heroin, teens can use their own judgment and make smarter choices.

Myth: Only ‘hard’ drugs are dangerous
FACT: Drugs like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine have a reputation for being highly addictive, powerful and dangerous. These ‘hard’ drugs carry a well-deserved negative connotation because of their perceived risk, but these are not the only dangerous drugs.

Any substance that can lead to addiction and dependence can be dangerous. The effects of these substances can impair judgment, decrease coordination and bring about unwanted physical and mental health issues. Even a substance that has a low risk of addiction can be very problematic depending on the individual and the reasons for use.

Myth: There is nothing friends or family can do to help
FACT: This myth maintains that friends and family members are powerless against the addiction. This myth is not only incorrect, but it is dangerous since it implies that loved ones and their actions do not factor into someone’s ability to recover from addiction. Certainly, no one can force an addicted person to quit using, but luckily, there are many methods you can use to improve the situation. Conversely, there are certain actions that can worsen the situation.