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What Makes Heroin So Addictive?

distraught young woman sitting on floor leaning against wall as she discovers firsthand what makes heroin so addictive

Many illicit drugs cause untold hardships for those trapped in the cycle of addiction, but why is heroin so addictive? Heroin is one of the most highly addictive substances known to man. Heroin use triggers a surge in dopamine, producing an intense pleasure that can quickly become compulsive and lead to addiction.

Heroin is often suggested as one of the most dangerous drugs available. The implication is that heroin is so powerful and so addictive that people who take the drug are almost certain to develop dependence. It might sound like an exaggeration, but in reality, heroin is remarkably addictive. Many people who take the drug recreationally find that they quickly transition to a form of drug use that’s compulsive and impossible to control.

A professional heroin rehab center like that offered at Michael’s House in Palm Springs, CA, offers a chance to break the cycle of heroin addiction. Call 760.548.4032 today to learn more about our programs and services or get started with treatment for heroin addiction.

Heroin Addiction

Addiction is characterized by a psychological need for drugs that surpasses the user’s ability to control the use of drugs. Those changes begin in the cells of the brain, and research suggests that heroin impacts key portions of the brain to such a degree that addiction might inevitably follow use. This means that people who take heroin feel no pain or discomfort, and the portion of their brains that record and remember pleasurable experiences are working overtime.

Since heroin is so potent, its presence taxes and stresses brain cells. If the drug is presented to the body repeatedly, those cells can become fatigued or even burned out. A user might need to take in more heroin to combat this burn, and in time, the user might need heroin in order to avoid painful physical symptoms associated with withdrawal.

Common Signs of Heroin Addiction

  1. Physical Changes – These can include weight loss, needle marks on arms, and overall poor health.
  2. Behavioral Changes – Unusual behaviors may include increased secrecy, sudden financial problems, and loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.
  3. Psychological Changes – This may manifest as mood swings, anxiety, depression, or disorientation.
  4. Withdrawal Symptoms – These can include restlessness, insomnia, vomiting, and severe muscle and bone pain when the drug is not consumed.
  5. Increased Tolerance – Need for higher doses of heroin to achieve the same effect or to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
  6. Neglecting ResponsibilitiesFailing to meet obligations at work, school, or home due to heroin use.

Heroin is so addictive that these signs could appear quite rapidly compared to other common sources of substance use disorder, like alcohol.

Modes of Heroin Abuse

While the chemical structure of heroin and its impact on the brain might be partially responsible for its addictiveness level, the ways in which heroin users introduce the drug to the body might also play a role.

Unlike some drugs that are swallowed and which enter the body relatively slowly, heroin users typically employ fast delivery systems, including:

  • Injection
  • Snorting
  • Smoking
  • Suppositories

These methods allow all of the potency of heroin to hit the body in a gigantic wave that overwhelms and overpowers. Rather than feeling slightly impaired in a slow burn, users are suddenly vaulted into a new realm of experience. This is the sort of transformation the brain tends to remember, and it tends to make heroin much more addictive than other types of substances that enter the body through oral routes.

Finding Help for Heroin Addiction at Michael’s House

If you or a loved one are caught in the cycle of heroin addiction, professional addiction treatment detox offers a way to break that cycle. If left untreated, addictions to heroin can prove fatal, so treatment makes a significant difference.

At Michael’s House, our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions about heroin abuse and the available treatment options. You are not alone. Call us now at 760.548.4032 or reach out online.