How Addictive Is Heroin?

Young woman reflecting on her addictionHeroin is one of the most addictive substances known to man. In a 2012 survey, 335,000 people admitted to past-month use of it, per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. While the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes that heroin accounted for 86 percent of opiate treatment admissions in 2002 and only 63 percent in 2012, this difference is unfortunately due to the drastic rise in the popularity of prescription opioid pain reliever abuse rather than a decline in heroin abuse.

Propensity towards addiction

As with addictions to most drugs, there are risk factors that make certain people more likely to fall prey to heroin addiction. While it isn’t likely an indicator in the development of dependency, there are certain age groups more inclined to use and abuse the drug altogether. Between 2003 and 2004, there was the biggest increase in heroin use among those 12 to 17 than in any other age category — a 33 percent escalation from the preceding year, per LaraSig.

Those who struggle with mental illness are also at an increased risk of heroin abuse. Actually, addiction as a whole is a bigger problem for the mentally ill than the general population. Approximately 50 percent of people with severe mental health disorders, like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, are also battling substance abuse issues, notes Helpguide. Additionally, the National Alliance on Mental Illness notes that about 50 percent of all drug addicts have at least one serious mental health disorder.

Addictive potential

Some of the signs of an addiction to heroin are:

  • Poor hygiene
  • Weight fluctuations
  • Cramps
  • Trembling
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Restless demeanor
  • Anxiety
  • Violent or aggressive behavior
  • Track marks
  • Financial troubles

If you stumble upon balloons, baggies, pipes, syringes, or aluminum foil lying around, these are potential signs of heroin use to consider as well.

Heroin floods your mind with dopamine and limits receptors’ abilities to gather and restore the chemical post-fix. Thus, the high is persistent, yet short-lived to the drug user, who continually craves the pleasurable feeling heroin delivers. Thus, they chase after it, chronically, in an everlasting attempt to feel that way again. Over time, dopamine receptors begin to die off. Many addicts are left with years of depression and the absence of any form of elation after quitting the drug; this is perhaps a significant cause of relapse. The drug starts out as a method of delivering an unbelievable euphoria and ends up being the only way an addict can feel such pleasure. So it keeps them coming back for more.

The end of the line

For some, the end of heroin addiction is an untimely death. For others, like yourself, it can be the first step toward a better life — a drug-free life. The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that addiction develops in about 23 percent of all heroin users. Currently, the best approach for treating heroin addiction includes continued medication therapy coupled with psychotherapy. Many patients are put on drugs like methadone and buprenorphine right from the start of the detox process. These drugs act as supplements for heroin, allowing the body to slowly wean itself off the drug in decreasing, incremented doses over a period of time.

Methadone maintenance programs are successful in rehabilitating patients in up to 90 percent of cases, per the California Society of Addiction Medicine. Buprenorphine — its successor — initially proved its efficacy in 88 percent of patients struggling with opiate addiction, according to The Fix. While methadone remains the most widely used drug in heroin treatment, bupe programs are gaining popularity due to the drug’s ability to limit users from experiencing a high effect when increasing their doses, inhibiting the ability to become addicted to the treatment medication.

Coupled with extended treatment plans inclusive of intensive therapy, many heroin addicts can be reformed and live a life without heroin again. The choice is yours. You can pick up the phone today and change your life. Here at The Recovery Village, we’re happy to help. Call now.

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How Addictive Is Heroin?
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