Are Heroin Addicts Violent?

Are heroin addicts violent?

The fast answer to this common question is yes and no, because of direct and indirect reasons. Whether or not heroin addicts are violent depends on many different factors including personal characteristics, what their drug-seeking behaviors look like, and how the drug impacts their brain.

The following provides a more in-depth answer to the question of are heroin addicts violent.

Are Heroin Addicts Violent?
Understanding the answer to “are heroin addicts violent” can depend somewhat on knowing how it works on the brain. When heroin is taken, as with other opioids, it binds to the opioid receptors found throughout the brain including in the limbic system, prefrontal cortex, and the brainstem. What happens first is that a person feels a euphoric rush, and then that’s followed by a period of deep relaxation or sedation.

When someone takes heroin, it also binds to opioid receptors located in the Ventral Tegmental Area and releases dopamine throughout the brain. All of this interacts with the reward centers of your brain, and this is why people continue to abuse heroin. They have experienced reward in the form of euphoria, and so the person’s brain then views heroin use as something positive that should be repeated.

However, this continues, and heroin use becomes a compulsive habit, but because of the compulsion to continue using heroin, violence can occur.

With any drug, not just heroin specifically, there is a likelihood of violence to start occurring. With heroin, this violence isn’t necessarily because of the impact of the heroin itself on the person’s brain but is often more because someone who is addicted to heroin will do anything to continue getting it.

As people’s habit builds and they develop a tolerance to heroin, they need more of the drug to achieve the desired effects. Most people who are addicted to drugs start to experience money problems because of buying the substance they’re addicted to, and when that happens they will start to borrow money from friends and family, and in many cases eventually, steal it.

People who are addicted to heroin may also lose their job because of their addiction, making them even more desperate for money.

Once someone on heroin has exhausted other routes for obtaining money to supply themselves with drugs, they may begin doing violent things to get money, including robbery. They may also exhibit violent behaviors toward people they know including friends and family as a way to get money to buy more heroin.

Another way to answer “are heroin addicts violent” or “are heroin users violent” is to look at how the drug impairs mental function, both when the person is on it and also when they’re not. A person may not necessarily be violent when they’re on heroin, but because of the way it reduces mental inhibitions and impairs judgment, they could exhibit violent behaviors.

Also, heroin impacts the brain not just when someone is on the drug, but it eventually rewires their brain in many ways over time, and that could contribute to violence as well.

Also important to consider when answering “are heroin addicts violent,” is what happens during withdrawal. Psychosis is one potential side effect of withdrawal from heroin and other opioids. When this happens, the person loses touch with reality and becomes delusional. It is marked by a sense of anxiety and mental instability, as well as a sense of hopelessness. All of this can contribute to impulsivity, which may include violence.

Someone may start to experience hallucinations that could play a role in whether or not they are violent, and there may be a sense of desperation that takes hold when someone is withdrawing from opiates.

To sum up the answer to the question “are heroin addicts violent,” or “are heroin users violent,” it’s yes in some cases, but usually in an indirect way. Heroin itself might not necessarily mean heroin users are violent, but the effects of addiction and drug-seeking behaviors, as well as clouded judgement, can lead to violent behaviors. Also, when considering are heroin users violent, they may be during withdrawal, particularly if they experience psychosis.

Are Heroin Addicts Violent?
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