Why is Heroin so Addictive?
Exploring the Roots of Heroin Addiction
Heroin addiction is an intense form of drug abuse. It’s difficult to overcome drug addiction, but a drug like heroin requires a unique struggle. Opiate addiction is physical and mental. It’s all-consuming. If you don’t have the drug for an extended period of time, the withdrawal symptoms are brutal. That’s just one of the reasons why heroin is so addictive.
The caring staff at Icarus Behavioral Health have seen many heroin users. Living in New Mexico, a drug like heroin isn’t that difficult to acquire. Black tar heroin is popular here and also highly addictive. This form of heroin comes primarily from Mexico and is a black sticky substance. Heroin can also come in a white or brown powder. Heroin comes from opium poppy plants, most of which are grown in the Middle East.
Keep reading to get answers about why is heroin so addictive, and find out about our proven treatment programs at Icarus in NM as well!
I became a heroin user after I became addicted to prescription opioids. I initially used it to relieve pain from past car accidents, and I often abused other drugs on top of it. Heroin abuse is on the rise and a lot of heroin users started with a separate opiate addiction.
As the prices of prescription drugs skyrocket on the black market, heroin remains cheap and easier to get. My drug use began in my early teens but it got out of hand by the time I graduated high school.
Keep reading to find out more about my own personal story with heroin abuse, and how to find help for you or a loved one going through similar issues.
The Dangers Of Heroin Overdose
My substance abuse led me to a heroin overdose not long before I entered treatment. Overdosing is scary, but what was even scarier is that I went right back to my heroin addiction like it was nothing. The effects of heroin are so strong that you’ll risk your life for that next high. The fact that you’ll do something that you know might kill you just shows how harsh this addiction can be.
Sadly, a lot of heroin users overdose after they get clean for a period of time and then relapse. You often will go back to the same dose you are used to, and your body can’t handle it. Your tolerance for the drug is very high when you are using it. When you stop and then go back, your tolerance is much lower. I’ve heard many stories of people who overdosed following a relapse.
Your decision-making is key. You have to know what kind of drug you are dealing. Heroin is in the upper tier of addictive substances. Once you become addicted to heroin, you realize those dangers in a very stark manner. I tried to deny the dangers, but I could only do that for so long.
Heroin Abuse As A Central Nervous System Depressant
The way that heroin abuse affects brain function is startling once you do a little research into the subject. There are opioid receptors in the brain that play different roles. Our brains produce endorphins, which are a natural substance. These endorphins and prescription opioids both attach to our opioid receptors in the same way.
Why is heroin so addictive? Heroin binds to these opiate receptors in the brain, and all your brain wants is more heroin. Once a heroin addiction is established, it requires physical intervention to fix. Prolonged heroin abuse lengthens the time that it takes for your brain to return to normal.
The effects of heroin are similar to any other opioid addiction. Once it’s in your brain, it’s very hard to get out. There are some heroin users who often claim it’s the greatest feeling in the world. In my case, I didn’t want to get clean for a very long time. I used to tell people that I would die before I fixed my heroin addiction. It was that powerful.
Withdrawal Symptoms From Heroin Use
When your brain stops getting heroin, the opioid receptors can’t produce enough endorphins to make up for it. Heroin and opioid withdrawal symptoms generally consist of a lot of physical pain and emotional pain. This is what makes heroin such a dangerous drug. Whether you inject or smoke heroin, the intense pleasure of heroin goes away fast.
Common withdrawal symptoms of the heroin withdrawal process include vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain, intense cravings, cold flashes, and depression. These side effects are all extremely intense and overwhelming, especially following regular heroin use. My heroin addiction took me months of addiction treatment to get past. I still have nightmares about it, and often wake up thinking I relapsed.
Following my second heroin overdose, I finally sought addiction treatment. The national institute on drug abuse lists heroin as one of the drug addictions that leave you at a higher risk for overdose. I had engaged in substance abuse for years before my heroin use, but nothing did me in like heroin. All of the other opioid drugs I did pale in comparison. If I was going to finally quit heroin, it was going to take some extreme effort on my part to fulfill my recovery journey.
Treatment For Heroin Addiction
When the effects of heroin stopped being fun for me, I was homeless and near death. Long-term heroin use had ravaged my body and caused a lot of health problems. When I first entered treatment, it took almost a week of detox for me to get all of the heroin out of my system. Icarus Behavioral Health had great treatment plans for me and made sure I was as comfortable as possible during such an uncomfortable time.
Addiction treatment gave me the boost that I needed to start working through my own personal issues. My heroin use was masking all of the things in my life that I didn’t want to face. I had stolen from family members and co-workers. I had lied to everyone. I tried to convince everyone I wasn’t an addict even though I had collapsed veins and an overall sickly appearance.
It takes a long time to fully eliminate toxins from your body if you are addicted to heroin. Even though you can get it out of your body, the damage it does to your brain is frightening. There are effective treatments for heroin addiction, but they require a lot of soul-searching and mental toughness. You can gain this mental toughness through intense therapy and aftercare services. These make all the difference.
Other Substances Don’t Do The Trick
Being addicted to heroin was like a full-time job. Because it is so highly addictive, nothing else in your life matters but getting more heroin. The effects of heroin wired my brain to think of nothing else. If I didn’t have heroin, no other drug I tried would suffice.
I dabbled with many other drugs, including crack cocaine, meth, and other opioids. None of them gave me the same effect. Heroin use is in its own category. I had always heard about how dangerous heroin was, and I always told myself that I would avoid it. Even though I knew the dangers, I put those fears to the side out of my own curiosity.
My heroin addiction resulted from an opioid use disorder, which quickly gave way to heroin use disorder. Unfortunately, prescription opiates are easy to acquire these days, and they can often be misprescribed. This is fairly common and the higher you build your tolerance, the more you need to get by.
People who use drugs typically don’t begin with heroin. A heroin addiction usually comes after a whole lot of other experiments with other substances. The effects of heroin are so much more intense than many other drugs, so if you are the kind of person who needs the most intense high, you are more likely to fall into a heroin addiction.
Drug Abuse And Your Family
I didn’t have many family members who engaged in drug use. This didn’t give them much perspective when it came to dealing with my addiction. My family was always supportive and loving, but they didn’t know how to approach getting me into treatment. They also didn’t understand the symptoms of heroin abuse, so they didn’t realize how bad my addiction was until it was nearly too late.
My family didn’t need to know much about drug abuse to know that heroin is highly addictive. The things that it made me do and the way that it made me act were barbaric. I’m lucky to have a family that was so understanding even though I treated them so badly. My addiction was so bad that it caused my family to seek treatment on their own. This is a relatively new approach and is very beneficial for the families of drug addicts.
You Can Find a New Life: Reach Out for Help to Icarus
My treatment is still ongoing, and I try to be as open as possible about the way I feel. I have days where I still crave the drug. I have my weak moments, but I try to have more strong moments than weak ones. The only way to achieve this is to constantly work on me. I go to meetings. I talk about it. If I’m not feeling good mentally, I say it. The energy of my support group gives me the strength to continue on my journey.
If you are in a similar place that I was, I know it can seem bleak and even hopeless. But do one thing: call Icarus and see if they can help. I know it made all the difference for me, and it may be a literally life-changing call for you too. Give yourself a break, and reach out for support!