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How Addictive Is Heroin?

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Nobody likes to feel pain, either physical or emotional. To understand just how addictive heroin is, it is important to understand exactly how heroin works to make the individual feel less pain on both levels.

The human body produces chemicals called endorphins. These are the chemicals responsible for making us feel good. They are directly linked to the pleasure center of the body and brain, created by very specific activities, including exercising or having sex. They are also created to combat pain at the most basic level. The brain communicates these feeling through neuron-to-neuron communication in the brain. One neuron releases endorphins, and the next neuron uses opiate receptors to acknowledge the signal. The brain then sends messages along the spinal column to the part of the body being affected.

Heroin Works Quickly to Achieve Results

how addictive is heroin?Heroin is an opiate derived from morphine. When it is introduced to the brain through injection into the blood stream or inhalation into the lungs, it works incredibly quickly. Once inside the body, the heroin impersonates the natural endorphins. It passes through the blood-brain barrier, and each of the opiate receptors in the brain picks up the artificial endorphins. The result is a euphoria that reaches to every part of the body. Individuals feel good in a rush that is so intense, it can change their lives forever.

Another reason heroin is so addictive has to do with the quality of the available drugs in today’s illicit marketplace. In the past, according to a report from ABC World News, heroin on the street was expensive and only about 3 percent pure. This means that the actual amount of heroin an individual introduced into their bodies was roughly 3 percent while the other 97 percent contained dangerous fillers or “cutting” ingredients to increase profit margins for the drug manufacturers and dealers.

Today, heroin is less expensive and roughly 60 percent pure. In previous years, it was the “high” that kept a user coming back for more of the drug while tolerance and addiction developed slowly. With the higher purity, users have reported addiction traits after a single use. The more drugs introduced in a shorter period of time, the more likely it is that tolerance and addiction are going to develop.

Withdrawal Symptoms Can Be Severe Enough to Promote Longer Use of Heroin

Opiate withdrawal isn’t fun. Just a few of the symptoms an individual may experience as they begin to withdraw from heroin include nausea and vomiting, sweating, pain the muscles, insomnia, heightened anxiety and agitation. To eliminate the “illness” they feel, an individual’s body will crave more the drug. This then creates a cycle of use and withdrawal that can be indicative of addiction.

Other symptoms of addiction include:

  • Placing more importance on using heroin than meeting one’s responsibilities, such as caring for children or other family members, going to work, or attending school
  • Continued use of heroin even though you know it is destroying your life and placing you in dangerous situations
  • Spending a great deal of time searching for and using heroin
  • Using more heroin than you initially intended at one time even though you’ve placed limits on yourself
  • Being unable to stop using heroin until it is all gone

Early heroin withdrawal can begin within 12 hours of the last use. A heroin addict knows that their body will feel better – that they can “get well” if they use heroin – so psychologically they are addicted as well. They will crave the drug to make themselves feel normal.

Heroin Addiction as Compared to Other Drugs of Abuse

According to the experts at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are several factors that go into just how addictive one drug is over another. These factors include aspects about the person using the drug, as well as the drug itself. For instance, the environment in which an individual lives can play a role in the risks of addiction. If an individual has a family member who suffers from addiction, he or she is more likely to develop addictions as well.

There are some drugs that are more addictive than others as a general rule, and heroin is one of those because of the power of the intoxication it delivers. The only way to ensure that you or someone you love will not become addicted to heroin is to not use it in the first place. If that is, unfortunately, no longer an option, there is help available. Michael’s house offers a comprehensive heroin addiction treatment program. Contact us today to find out how we can help.