Heroin's destructive effect on users - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Heroin's destructive effect on users

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) - Heroin, what once seemed like a drug abused only by the worst of addicts, is now alarmingly common.

Academy Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman, 46, found dead in his West Village apartment with a needle stuck in his arm, is believed to have been abusing the drug.

Why would someone with a booming career, fame, money and three children, turn to highly addictive heroin? It's a complicated answer, says Dr. Harris Stratyner, a psychologist in New York who specializes in overcoming addictions.

"Some people may like the high and usually there is a genetic pre-disposition. There could be a psycho-social- environmental issue. Mr. Hoffman was going through a separation. Some people succumb to self-medicating," said Dr. Stratyner.

Hoffman, who reportedly battled addiction and was sober for many years, likely relapsed.

"It is a disease. Like all diseases, it's chronic if not treated. If not treated, it's fatal. You have to be hyper-vigilant," said Dr. Stratyner.

For those who get hooked on heroin, the side effects are horrific.

Nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps... it is very painful," said Dr. Startyner.

Addicts who seek help are often referred to a 12-step program and professional treatment in a drug rehabilitation facility.

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