Many people have tried every conceivable thing to save the addict from themselves, but really the only person who can change things is the addict.

For people who have someone close to them battling a heroin addiction, they may wonder if people addicted to heroin are capable of loving other people. The answer to the question is complex. When someone is addicted to a drug like heroin, it can seem as if you don’t even recognize the person you once loved. People often say that it’s like their loved one has two personalities, one of which they love and the other of which is driven by the addiction.

How Heroin Affects Relationships

Someone who has an addiction will often start showing outward signs of their substance abuse problem when they withdraw from loved ones. People who develop a drug or substance abuse problem typically avoid social situations and interactions even with people very close to them, and they may instead prefer to be alone or find a new social group that also abuses drugs.

The interpersonal relationships of a person tend to be the very first aspect that starts to diminish when addiction arises.

Understanding Addiction

Understanding how an addiction to heroin works can be valuable to help you understand what it’s like when you love someone with an addiction.

When someone initially uses heroin, their brain is flooded with dopamine, creating a euphoric high. Their brain then creates a memory of using heroin, and it’s seen as a rewarding, pleasurable experience. The brain is wired to want to keep seeking out activities that bring pleasure, and the rush of heroin is unlike any natural pleasure a person could experience.

That’s what stimulates the cravings and other characteristics of addiction. The brain of the person addicted to heroin becomes rewired to continue drug-seeking behaviors, and the physiological desire to use drugs becomes the prime driver of the person’s life. Most people who are addicted to heroin feel they can only be normal or happy when they’re high, so they’re entirely driven to keep trying to get the drugs.

It can seem like the person with an addiction is making the choice of drugs over you and your relationship, but that’s not the case. They’re picking the drug over everything.

People with addiction can experience a loss of control because of their brain chemistry. Every single decision and action they make is based on fulfilling their addiction.

What You Can Do

If you love someone addicted to heroin, there is very little you can do. The only person who can change things is the person with the addiction. You can set your boundaries, ask them to consider addiction treatment or perform an intervention, but the ultimate decision to become healthier is in their hands.

In the meantime, you can focus on taking care of yourself and gaining the support you need to navigate your life as someone who loves a person with an addiction.

If you or a loved one live with addiction, help is available. Contact The Recovery Village and speak to a representative about how treatment plans can help your loved one address their addiction and any co-occurring disorders.

Thomas Christiansen
Editor – Thomas Christiansen
With over a decade of content experience, Tom produces and edits research articles, news and blog posts produced for Advanced Recovery Systems. Read more
Christina Caplinger
Medically Reviewed By – Christina Caplinger, RPh
Christina Caplinger is a licensed pharmacist in both Colorado and Idaho and is also a board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist. Read more
Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.