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Heroin and Prescription Narcotics

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A Message from Health Officer Jinlene Chan, M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Jinlene Chan, M.D., M.P.H.

Heroin is a highly addictive opioid drug. Heroin use has many medical and social consequences, including hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, fetal and infant mortality, crime and violence. Prescription opioid medications, such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Demerol, are often prescribed to manage pain; however, they can be misused and can lead to addiction with the same adverse consequences as heroin.

Local and national media reports about fatal and non-fatal opiate overdoses highlight the danger and negative impact drug abuse has on families, careers and communities. The Anne Arundel County Department of Health, in collaboration with other county agencies, community-based groups and individual residents, is working to reduce fatal overdoses and the harmful consequences of opioid addiction. This website provides information and resources for those who struggle with addiction and for their loved ones.

Like many chronic diseases, addiction can be treated. The symptoms of withdrawal from opioid drugs are not medically dangerous, but they can be agonizing. Medications are available to treat opioid addiction while reducing withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. Taking into account co-occurring health conditions, such as mental illness, treatment can be tailored to an individual’s recovery needs. Medication combined with psychosocial intervention and behavioral therapy is particularly effective, offering hope to people who suffer from addiction and to their family and friends.