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Heroin: Myths and Facts

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“They told me in the last rehab I had been to, ‘If you relapse, come back in. All you are doing is changing your clean date,’ What I heard was,‘You can take drug vacations, just come back in.’ What I forgot —what I had to learn yet one more time — was that when I start, I cannot stop. I have a disease; it is chronic, fatal if not treated, and it kills indiscriminately.”Frank A. in his Heroes in Recovery story about his battle with heroin addiction.

While it is true that heroin is one of the most harmful drugs in the world, many false notions exist. That bad information can hurt people, just like Frank A. Heroin addiction was robbing him of his freedom, his joy, his dreams for the future. It nearly snatched his last breath. But he turned the tables on this deadly enemy. You can too! Script a happy ending for your life.


Take Time to Learn the Facts of the Matter

People need to know the facts. They need to know the truth about heroin and its addictive nature.

Some of the most common misconceptions about heroin addiction are addressed here, along with what is true. Hopefully this can help guide people into making wise choices if heroin is being considered.

Myth #1: Heroin is less dangerous when smoked or snorted.

Fact: Heroin is a deadly, highly-addictive drug, regardless how it is used.

The only risk-factor that is diminished when snorting or smoking the drug vs. injecting is the reduced risk of HIV transmission through an infected needle. However, given that users under the influence of heroin lose much of their rational thought while under the influence, dangerous sex habits may still likely occur.1

Myth #2: Heroin is a drug abused only by older drug users.

Fact: For many years a large percentage of heroin users were aged 30 or older, but that number is changing.

Heroin users are beginning to skew younger, despite the research indicating that 8 out of 10 teens think heroin use is “very risky.”Recent trends indicate that heroin use is increasing for young adults 18 years of age and older. As heroin users get younger and younger, education about the dangers of the drug becomes more important and needs to be introduced at a younger age.2

Myth #3: Methadone is more harmful than heroin.

Fact: Over the years, there has been a backlash against the most popular form of heroin addiction treatment, methadone.

Although both heroin and methadone are both drugs per se, methadone is safer by nature because it is prescribed and administered by medical professionals in a controlled environment. Taken orally, it reaches the brain slowly. The “high” that occurs is diminished compared with other routes of administration. Furthermore, withdrawal symptoms are minimized. Used since the 1960s to treat heroin addiction, it remains an excellent treatment option.3 Methadone produces minimal tolerance and alleviates craving and compulsive drug use.4

The fact that methadone itself, another opiate, is also addictive makes its use controversial as a treatment for heroin addiction. When used to ease withdrawal off of heroin, dependence on methadone can form. Methadone is comparable to heroin in producing painful withdrawal symptoms. However, methadone users are able to participate fully in society and can hold down a job, participate in family life, go to school, etc., without the psychological or emotional impairments associated with heroin use.5

Myth #4: Heroin users become addicted instantly.

Fact: While heroin is considered to be the most addictive street drug, users do NOT typically become addicted to the drug after a single use.

Often starting out with prescription opioid misuse, it takes months to become physically addicted to heroin (a street drug that many users find more readily accessible than prescription drugs). If addicted, withdrawal symptoms during detox tend to be severe.

The pleasure derived from heroin’s activation of the brain’s natural reward system promotes continued drug use. Repeated exposure to this drug induces the brain mechanisms of dependence. This leads to daily drug use to avert the unpleasant symptoms of drug withdrawal. Further prolonged use produces more long-lasting changes in the brain. This, in turn, may underlie the compulsive drug-seeking behavior and related adverse consequences that are the hallmarks of addiction.4

Myth #5: Abstinence is an appropriate treatment option for heroin addiction.

Fact: As much as a heroin addict may want to quit using, the fact is that very few individuals can quit on their own accord.

To quit heroin use, entering an experienced and reputable drug rehab program is essential.6Programs at facilities like Michael’s House, where a caring, highly-trained staff provides all phases of the heroin rehab, offer a safe environment for healing and recovery.

Myth #6: All heroin rehab programs are alike.

Fact: Heroin rehab programs are not all equally effective.

Michael’s House offers high-quality care for individuals struggling with heroin addiction. We also offer support to their families. For those who are serious about turning their lives around, Michael’s House offers a resounding answer: “Yes, you can!”

“If you can take only one thing from [my life story, let it be this]: My attitude and actions are MY choice today, and nothing anyone does or says can change that.”Tony S. shares in his Heroes in Recovery account of heroin addiction

Make the choice to get help. Contact Michael’s House on our 24/7 toll-free line, 760.548.4032 for more information about heroin and addiction or to discuss what our comprehensive, evidence-based drug rehab programs can do for you or your loved one.


1Heroin.” DrugFacts, National Institute on Drug Abuse, July 2017. Web. Accessed 28 July 2017.

2The Truth about Heroin.” Drug Enforcement Administration, January 2014. Web. Accessed 28 July 2017.

3What Are the Treatments for Heroin Addiction?” National Institute on Drug Abuse. November 2014. Accessed 28 July 2017.

4 Kosten, Thomas, R., M.D., “The Neurobiology of Opioid Dependence: Implications for Treatment.Science & Practical Perspectives, Volume 1, Issue Number 1, July 2002. Web. Accessed 28 July 2017.

5 “Heroin or Methadone – Which Is More Addictive?” SoberNation. 8 February 2015. Web. Accessed 28 July 2017.

6The Truth about Heroin.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). December 2008. Web. Accessed 28 July 2017.