There is no doubt that heroin addiction is difficult to treat. It’s one of the most difficult addictions to recover from, but it is possible. It’s important that people struggling with this addiction know why people who are addicted to heroin.
When you take heroin, it binds to your brain’s opioid receptors. Like prescription painkillers, it then pushes a flood of dopamine into your system that creates intense pleasure and even euphoria. Your brain is wired to want to continue participating in activities that bring pleasure, and the effects of heroin are much more impactful than any natural pleasure-seeking activity could be. Your brain keeps compelling you to seek out this stimulus again and again after you try heroin.
After using heroin over an extended period, your brain adjusts to its presence and that’s when you develop a tolerance. Once you have a tolerance for heroin or other opioids, without them, you may become ill or experience negative side effects.
It’s all a dangerous cycle, but one of the biggest reasons why people who are addicted to heroin relapse is the incredibly addictive nature of this drug.
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Many substance abuse experts believe that relapse with heroin and other substances is the result of a set of triggers and underlying problems that don’t go away just because someone stops using drugs.
The relapse rate for all substance abuse disorders ranges from 40 to 60 percent, but the rate for heroin specifically is as high as 90 percent or greater. Heroin and alcohol are the two substances with the highest relapse rates.
When people stop participating in their aftercare program or their 12-step group, it’s a big red flag that a relapse could be coming or has already started.
Also, what has been seen as a trend in the past decade or so is that heroin isn’t often the first drug people abuse. Instead, their drug abuse stems from prescription painkiller abuse. Ultimately, people move to heroin because it’s cheaper and more available. That means they’ve probably been abusing drugs for a very long time, and it’s not only changed their brain, but it’s also become an ingrained part of their lifestyle.
Not addressing underlying issues is another reason why people relapse. People who start using drugs often have a mental disorder that co-occurs along with their addiction. It’s essential that when you’re seeking a recovery program for heroin, you choose one that integrates dual diagnosis treatment. If you don’t treat the underlying issues or mental health disorders you suffer from, it’s going to be almost impossible to remain drug-free.
In some cases, people in recovery relapse because after completing a treatment program, they go directly back into the same environments and social settings where they were using and this triggers them to use again. It’s important the people avoid the triggers that led to their heroin dependency and addiction in the first place, while also maintaining the proper support network and participating in aftercare programs.
The reasons why people relapse are varied and complicated. However, relapse isn’t a sign of failure; it’s a common setback. It’s important for people who relapse to understand setbacks happen and realize that their recovery is a long-term journey.
If you or a loved one live with addiction or are using drugs recreationally and want to stop, The Recovery Village® can help. Reach out to one of our representatives today to learn how you can start on your path to recovery.