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Understanding Heroin Addiction

Heroin is a drug that falls into the class of opioids, which in addition to heroin, includes other drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine. While heroin is an illegal substance, other opiates are prescription medications, most often used to treat pain.

First, Understanding Opiates and Opioids.

You will often hear both terms used. The differences are straightforward: Opiates, such as heroin, are derived from the poppy plant and are sometimes described as “natural” because the active ingredients in the poppy plant are made by nature. By comparison, an opioid is a substance (molecule) that is synthetic or partly synthetic, meaning the active ingredients (molecules) are manufactured. Whether a naturally occurring opiate, or a manufactured opioid, this is a highly addictive, dangerous, and even deadly class of drugs.

The Frightening Cycle of Heroin Addiction.

The immediate effects of heroin use often bring a rush of euphoria – feeling on top of the world – that trigger powerful reward circuits in the brain which cause feelings of extreme pleasure. With astonishing speed, the brain soon comes to believe that heroin is not only pleasurable but absolutely needed for survival. The brain has been over-stimulated to its own detriment. With the brain primed to think heroin is needed for survival, two powerful forms of cravings surface to make matters worse. On one side, there are physical cravings and the drive to use again. In addition, there are powerful psychological cravings where the desire for more heroin rules the head and the heart. Heroin’s power over the user is intense and overwhelming. Tolerance Builds – and FastTolerance simply means that a person needs more of the same drug – a higher dose – to get the same effect or high. Heroin users frequently find that their addiction spirals out of control very quickly. People need higher doses, more often, with quicker methods of delivery – such as shooting with needles. A couple of bags a day can spiral into many bags very quickly. Essentially, the over-stimulated brain is commanding the user, “I need more and more to survive. Do whatever you need to do to get me the next hit.” The brain is never satisfied for very long.

Even the Heroin High Isn’t All Good

Short-term effects of heroin use are not all pleasurable. They also include reduced sexual desire and performance, slowed breathing and heart rate, drowsiness, and a lack of energy. Heroin is a powerful central nervous system (CNS) depressant that slows and drags the body and mind down. Not surprisingly, there are virtually no productive heroin users that are accomplishing much in life. Rather, your life is held hostage by heroin. It’s brutal. Moreover, long-term effects of heroin are even worse. Increasing depression and suicidality, respiratory problems, and HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis from dirty needles and STDs from risky sexual behaviors often accompany heroin addiction. And death. In 2013, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported 8,527 Americans died of accidental heroin overdoses. A five-fold increase from 2010. That’s one person dying every hour of every day of the year from heroin. Your life is worth much more than a tragic heroin statistic.

Treating Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction or dependence requires professional help. Contact our compassionate staff today for more information and how to take the first step towards a better you!