Why Is Heroin So Addictive?

Heroin is widely known to be one of the most addictive drugs out there. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 23% of people who try heroin will develop an addiction to it. This is because, like many drugs, heroin activates the brain’s reward centers with an excess of dopamine. Heroin is unlike many drugs, however, in that the brain actually has specific opioid receptors that respond to it. When a person tries heroin or other opiates, they light up these receptors in ways that other drugs simply cannot. Most heroin drug rehab facilities encourage long-term heroin addiction treatment, as it gives the brain more time to heal.

Chasing the First High

Not all first-time users will experience euphoria, but many patients in heroin addiction treatment say that their first time doing heroin was among the greatest highs they ever experienced. However, the receptors that cause this feeling become so overstimulated that they sustain damage. As a result, many addicts spend the rest of their using careers chasing a high that they are physically incapable of experiencing again. In some areas, this can prove particularly dangerous, as many dealers strengthen their wares by lacing doses with synthetic opiates such as fentanyl and carfentanil. These additions make the drug more potent, but they also greatly increase the risk of fatal overdose.

Dangers of Heroin Addiction

The reward centers are not the only cells in the brain that may be damaged by heroin use. Not only do users find it more difficult to experience former sensations of pleasure, but many also experience deterioration of the brain’s white matter. The damage sustained to these deep tissues can often result in lowered inhibitions and impaired judgment, which only serves to worsen the addict’s using habits.

As they continue using, they may experience symptoms such as constipation, swollen or infected blood vessels due to intravenous use, heart abscesses and respiratory depression. The latter symptom is particularly notable, as it is considered a leading cause of overdose deaths among heroin users.

Heroin Addiction Treatment

Relapse rates for heroin users are high, especially if they attempt to quit on their own. Withdrawal symptoms are among the worst experienced by drug users, and many will resume using simply to experience relief. Heroin addiction treatment often begins at a medical detox center for this very reason, followed by primary care involving therapy, meetings and addiction education.

Damage to the brain’s reward centers may result in chronic depression, necessitating that medication play a role in the patient’s treatment program as well. Over time, however, heroin addiction treatment will teach the addict to enjoy life on life’s terms. They are put in an environment such as First Choice Detox that accepts them for who they are, providing them with a support network that will play a vital role in their relapse prevention efforts. This will help them forge a life in which they never again have to chase that elusive first high.