Understanding Heroin and What Makes It So Highly Addictive
Although there are many different types of substances that people may abuse and become physically dependent upon, heroin is often thought to be one of the most addictive drugs, but why is heroin addictive? The fact is that heroin remains a seriously addictive substance is due to its chemical structure, which directly impacts the brain.
When people indulge in using heroin for recreational purposes, they often discover that its use can quickly become a compulsion that’s beyond their control, quickly leading to heroin addiction. They may eventually switch over to different ways of abusing this drug, so the effects will be felt more rapidly, such as injecting it into a vein, making heroin more addictive than other drug types swallowed.
Heroin is an opioid drug listed as a Schedule 1 Narcotic by the US Drug Enforcement Administration, meaning that it’s a substance that has no accepted medical use, and it has a high potential for abuse. This drug is manufactured from morphine, a natural, psychoactive substance extracted from opium poppy seed plant resin.
Part of what makes heroin so highly addictive is that the drug quickly enters the brain, resulting in an intensive “high” that occurs almost immediately. After using heroin many times, your system develops a tolerance to its euphoric effects, causing you to need more and more of the drug to achieve the same result. Over time, you need to continue using heroin just to feel normal. Addiction can set in quickly, as you experience uncomfortable, even painful, side effects when you stop using it or miss a dose.
When someone wants to use heroin to achieve a high, they look for the most efficient ways to deliver the drug into their system, so it works rapidly. Heroin can be sniffed, smoked, snorted, inserted into the rectum in suppository form, or injected into a vein. Whichever way a person uses heroin, it’s quite easy to acquire a drug addiction to this drug, as it gets to the brain quickly.
Effects of Heroin
Heroin has powerful effects on the brain and the body. The drug will induce intense feelings of pleasure and physical relaxation, often causing a person to want to repeat the experience over and over.
Some of the effects of heroin vary, depending upon how long a person has been abusing the drug. If you haven’t been using this powerful opiate for a very long time, you’ll likely experience some side effects that include dry mouth, severe itching, confused mental functioning, and entering states of consciousness and semi-consciousness as you “nod off.” You can also feel a heaviness in your arms and legs, nausea, and vomiting.
For those who have been abusing heroin over a more extended period, some side effects can consist of insomnia, collapsed veins, damaged nose tissue, cardiac infections, abscesses, sexual dysfunction, mental conditions, and physical ailments such as lung, liver, or kidney disease.
How Heroin Affects The Brain
The drug, heroin, quickly binds to opioid receptors in the brain when taken. These receptors communicate with the body in terms of feelings of pain and pleasure; they also control heart rate, sleep, and breathing.
Someone with heroin addiction will feel a “rush” of euphoria when the drug enters the brain. Heroin blocks your body from receiving pain messages from the brain. It also, however, slows down your heart and breathing rates. If you were to take too much heroin and overdose, you could die if you stop breathing.
Treatment for Heroin Addiction
Heroin addiction is a serious substance use disorder, but recovery treatment is available. Medical detox is an excellent way to cleanse your system of heroin toxins before entering a heroin addiction treatment program.
Treatment for heroin addiction after detox involves various types of cognitive-behavioral therapy, contingency management, individual counseling, and group therapy. A medically assisted treatment (MAT) program like at WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab can also be very beneficial for someone recovering from heroin addiction. During MAT, certain drugs, such as Suboxone, can help with cravings and other withdrawal effects from heroin. Please reach out to the staff at WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab or visit one of our locations in Florida today.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.