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The Effects of Long Term Heroin Use on the Immune System - Essay Example

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The paper "The Effects of Long Term Heroin Use on the Immune System" discusses the adverse effects of long term heroin abuse, including its deleterious impact on the immune system, as a consequence of which even fairly innocuous infections, like tooth infections, can eventually cause mortality…
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The Effects of Long Term Heroin Use on the Immune System
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Download file to see previous pages The following paper is divided into five main sections. The first section gives a brief introduction to substance abuse and its epidemiology with particular reference to heroin addiction. This is followed by an overview of the medical sequelae of heroin abuse in the second section. The third section gives a basic understanding of the key players involved in immunological processes with regard to their specific role in combating different types of microorganisms. The following section then describes how each of these cell lines is affected by the long-term use of heroin and other opioids and what are its consequences. In the last section, all the main points are summarized and discussed in reference to the example given in the case study.
A maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress as manifested by one (or more) of the following, occurring within a 12-month period: (i) significant functional and occupational impairment (ii) use of the substance when physically hazardous (iii) recurrent legal problems (iv) recurrent social and interpersonal problems. 
Among other psychoactive substances, the use of heroin has also increased over the past years and in 1996 it was shown to be the most common opiate of abuse in the US (Kreek 1996 cited in Brick 2003:219). The annual global prevalence of opioid dependence has been estimated to be around 0.14% (Van Der Burgh C. 1999 cited in Madoz 2003:263). The DAWN survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse showed that approximately two million people in the United States were heroin abusers and amongst them, 500,000 fell into the category of “hardcore” addicts of heroin (Kreek 1990:199).
The term “hardcore” has been defined as “repeated use of heroin three to six times a day for over 1 year, with development of tolerance, dependence, and drug-seeking behavior” by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Kreek 1987b, National Institute on Drug Abuse 1983 and National Institute on Drug Abuse 1987 cited in Kreek 1990:199). ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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