Why Is Heroin Addictive
To understand why heroin is addictive, we have to take a look at the brain. Your brain naturally produces dopamine, the same chemical that helps you feel that wave of satisfaction after a workout or eating a favorite food. The brain has opioid receptors that trigger this feeling once the dopamine comes into contact with them.
When heroin is introduced into the same system, the result is an overload of all those reward centers. Imagine the opioid receptors in your brain as a fuse box. With normal activities, its like one fuse being flipped. Heroin is like all the fuses being tripped at the same time, flooding your loved one with this overwhelming feeling of euphoria and peace.
The problem comes once the high goes away. The brain struggles to right itself, and over time, it becomes trained to crave those feelings in order to feel normal. Heroin literally rewires the brain, which is why its difficult for people like your loved one to quit.
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The Physical & Mental Effects Of Heroin Use & Addiction
Clearly, the most obvious effect of heroin use is the addictive, euphoric high experienced by users; however, it is not the only rapid and short-term effect of the drug. Other common effects of heroin use include:
- Dry mouth
- Warm flushing of the skin
- Heavy feeling in the limbs
- Nausea and vomiting
HIV & Hepatitis C
Heroin users who inject the drug are also at a high risk of contracting HIV and the hepatitis C virus.
Both diseases are transmitted through contact with blood or other bodily fluids, which can happen when users share needles or other injection drug use equipment.
HCV is actually the most common bloodborne infection in the U.S. HIV, and to a lesser extent HCV, can also both be transmitted through unprotected sex, which is more likely with drug use.
Lastly, heroin often contains additives, such as sugar, starch, or powdered milk, that can clog the users blood vessels, and lead to damage within the lungs, liver, and kidneys. There is also the risk of permanent brain damage.
Heroin took my dreams, and everything else I had. Within weeks of my first fix, I had gone from the person I could have been to being a total stranger unrecognizable to myself. I told lies. I stole. I would do anything for a fix. Often, my junk addiction meant I did. Jonathan*: Heroin addict, aged 24, Arizona Department of Corrections, Tucson, AZ *name changed
Medications Used In Detox
Inpatient and outpatient drug rehab clinicians can prescribe drugs to ease withdrawal symptoms. These medications help with the recovery process by minimizing withdrawals and cravings.
This medication is a slow-acting, low-strength opiate used to taper patients off heroin and prevent withdrawal symptoms.
This is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for heroin withdrawal. It reduces cravings and physical symptoms like vomiting and muscle aches.
This drug blocks receptors in the brain that react to opioids like heroin. It is neither addictive nor sedating. Over time, it may reduce cravings. Naltrexone works best in patients who have already completed detox.
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Absolute Awakenings And Heroin Addiction
Because heroin is so incredibly addictive, it is important to understand that some people will seek treatment even after one use, depending on their physical and psychological reaction. If someone has abused heroin for a short period, inpatient treatment might not be necessary in cases such as these, partial hospitalization or IOP might be a more appropriate and effective level of care. If you are unsure as to what level of clinical care would best fit your personal needs and requirements, please feel free to give our admissions counselors a call at any point in time. They will gladly offer you a short pre-assessment to help you determine the right course of action to take. We look forward to hearing from you soon and helping you begin your journey of heroin addiction recovery as quickly as possible.
What Factors Impact How Long Heroin Withdrawal Lasts
Each person going through heroin withdrawal will have a unique experience. While some people may be temporarily uncomfortable, others may have lasting and severe symptoms.
Some factors that can impact how long heroin withdrawal lasts include:
- the severity of the addiction
- length of time using heroin
- past opioid dependence
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Why Is Heroin So Addictive
Heroin is made from a pain killer referred to as morphine. Users who take heroin will experience intense sensations of elation. Unfortunately, this leaves users craving more heroin to produce that same feeling of intense euphoria and calm, quickly leading to addiction. To explain further, heroin is a semi-synthetic opioid that mimics the effects of opium- a substance derived from the poppy plant. When an individual injects, snorts, or smokes heroin, the opioid receptors in the brain respond by triggering an intense flood of dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that is responsible for producing feelings of pleasure and euphoria. As the brain gets accustomed to the intense rush of dopamine from the use of heroin, the user will begin to experience cravings for the substance.
Regular and frequent users of heroin will experience symptoms of withdrawal when they attempt to cut down or quit their heroin use. While heroin withdrawal is typically not fatal, the symptoms may become so agonizing that the users will do anything to avoid it. Symptoms of heroin withdrawal that indicate an addiction include nausea, vomiting, chills, diarrhea, goosebumps, tremors, muscle and bone pain, agitation, anxiety, and overwhelming cravings. These symptoms can begin to appear within 24 hours of an individuals last dose of heroin. The intense withdrawal symptoms associated with heroin abuse is one reason why people get addicted to the drug they want to avoid getting sick.
The Dramatic & Extensive Damage Caused By Heroin
Whether heroin use begins as a recreational experiment or an extension of an opioid use disorder that began with abusing prescription opioid medications, the end result remains the same if the use becomes; long-term dramatic and extensive damage caused to both the users physical and mental health.;
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How Do People Get Addicted To Heroin
When a person uses heroin, they experience a huge surge of dopamine, the brains feel-good chemical that reinforces reward or positive behaviors.
Because heroin does this so effectively, by binding to specific opioid receptors in the brain which nullify the sensation of pain, it creates a powerful state of euphoria or high, and the psychological craving to revisit the same high drives the user to use the drug again.
After a period of continued use , the brain, which is constantly trying to return itself to its normal state, builds up a tolerance to the drug, making the user increase their dose and how often they use.
Before long, they become addicted to the drug just to feel normal.
What Is Black Tar Heroin
As it sounds, black tar Heroin is a cruder form of the illicit Opioid that is black and sticky in appearance and texture. Also popularly referred to as Mexican black tar Heroin due to it being a major export for Mexican cartels, the drug is mostly found West of the Mississippi River in the U.S. and Canada.
Many hear that black tar Heroin isnt as pure and think that it isnt as potent as its white, powder form; however, it is just as strong. This misconception can easily lead to people overdosing, thinking that they need more to get the same high. Because of its crude form, the sticky tar is difficult cannot be used intravenously unless it is diluted into a liquid, typically by heating with a spoon. People who have black tar Heroin will also smoke it, often on tin foil, or ingest it another way.
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Why Are Some People More Susceptible To Opioid Addiction
Nobody is quite sure why one person becomes addicted to opioids and not another. Typically, opioids produce pain relief, which is good after surgery. However, for some people opioids create a pleasurable effect. For example, caffeine is a reinforcing drug people like the effects.
That is true for about 80 percent of the adult population in U.S. But, some people avoid it because it makes them jittery or anxious. Early in the process of opioid use, people may take it because of the pleasurable effect, and some people actually dont like the effect of an opioid and may go on to avoid them. If you take an opioid and your pain is gone, and you find yourself saying, I feel really good, it may be a warning sign that you are vulnerable to misusing these medications.
Over time that good effect diminishes for people who like how an opioid makes them feel, and many people take more opioids because they hope to get that good feeling, and they also dont want to go through withdrawal.
Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms Which Peak Around 2
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle pain / aches, often severe
The length of heroin withdrawal depends on several factors, which include:
- The total time period of heroin use
- The amount of heroin taken each time
- The frequency of heroin use
- The method used to take heroin, and
- Any underlying medical or mental health issues
Depending on the amount of heroin taken habitually and the total length of use, recovering addicts are likely to suffer a medical condition known as post-acute withdrawal symptoms. This condition has a number of symptoms itself, and can actually last around 18-24 months, making abstinence difficult to maintain; the symptoms of PAWS include:;
- Increased anxiety and panic attacks
- Nausea and vomiting.
Symptoms may appear as soon as 12 hours after the last dose of heroin. They may persist for as long as two weeks, but there are some people who experience them longer.
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A Brief History Of Heroin
It may be surprising to learn that heroin was actually used in recent times for medical purposes. In retrospect, though, it may not be so surprising when you consider that it is medicine, in the form of prescription opioid painkillers, that has fuelled the still current U.S. opioid epidemic.
However, the earliest use of opium can be found around 3,300 B.C. by a Persian tribe known as the Sumerians. Apart from the discovery of the poppy plants strong recreational effects, the tribe is better known for the invention of writing. Early writings on clay tablets have shown that the Sumerians used the plant for both medicinal and recreational purposes. They referred to the poppy as the plant of joy.
History textbooks are filled with opiums rise around the world in the centuries that followed, but it was the development of the hypodermic syringe in 1853 by Alexander Wood that led to greater levels of addiction across the U.S. In fact, national surveys between 1878 and 1885 indicated that 56-71% of U.S. opiate addicts were actually middle to upper class white women who purchased the drug legally, and that rate was nearly triple that of opiate addiction here in the mid-1990s.
How Long Does It Take To Detox From Fentanyl
In recent years, fentanyl has become one of the deadliest drugs in the United States. Fentanyl is a Schedule II opioid drug commonly prescribed by U.S. doctors to treat severe pain, but can also be illicitly purchased on the streets and from China via the Internet. Fentanyl is up to 50 times stronger than heroin, and up to 100 times than morphine. Only two milligrams of this drug can trigger an overdose and cause death.
Fentanyl is highly addictive, and can quickly lead to physical dependence when misused. Thousands of Americans are suffering overdoses associated with this powerful, potent drug including emergency responders who accidentally come into contact with fentanyl when arriving at overdose scenes. Though fentanyl is extremely dangerous and can lead to death after just one use, detoxing or withdrawing from this drug comes with its own serious risks due to the severe effects of this substance on the brain and body.
Continuing fentanyl use can drastically increase ones risk for an overdose and death, but a professional fentanyl detox can help individuals safely quit using with a lowered risk for complications.
So, exactly how long does it take to detox from fentanyl? Heres what you need to know about fentanyl detox, and how you or your loved one can stay addiction-free after overcoming fentanyl dependence and addiction.
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It Doesnt Take Long To Become Addicted
Addiction affects nearly 23 million Americans today, many of whom are struck by the disease after just a few uses. Simply dabbling with a substance can lead to a lifelong set of consequences.
The time it takes to pick up the disorder is different for everyone, though evidence shows it may not take very long for some people. Once developed, addiction can consume your everyday life, taking you down a long, dark road.
Medical Disclaimer: DrugRehab.com aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a 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 provider.
Why Is Medical Detox Recommended For Heroin Addiction
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40-60 percent of people addicted to an illicit drug will relapse at some point, and its not always due to physical withdrawal symptoms. Psychological symptoms of withdrawal cause a range of emotions, such as depression and anxiety, which can be incredibly difficult to handle, so people often resume drug use to make these emotions go away temporarily. This is especially the case if the person isnt receiving any emotional support to help throughout the withdrawal and recovery process. At a drug treatment facility, professional staff members help people deal with these difficult emotions in order to prevent relapse.
When people with a heroin use disorder seek out formal treatment, medications may be used to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of withdrawal, making the detoxification process more comfortable. For instance, a person may be prescribed buprenorphine to treat the symptoms of withdrawal from opioids like heroin. In some instances, it can be used as a long-term maintenance drug.
Buprenorphine classifies as an opioid, but it generally doesnt induce euphoria, and it causes less physical dependence than heroin. Its a partial opioid agonist, so it does work on the same receptors as heroin, but it has less of a potential for misuse.
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Effective Heroin Addiction Treatment
Effective heroin addiction treatment will always incorporate a multi-phased level of care, beginning with medically monitored detox and ending with a continuous program of aftercare. At Absolute Awakenings, we offer a continuum of care for men and women who have already completed medical detox and inpatient treatment. We offer partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient treatment , outpatient treatment , dual diagnosis treatment, and trauma-informed clinical care. We treat men and women in Morris Plains, New Jersey, and all surrounding areas. If you or someone you love has been suffering at the hands of heroin abuse or addiction, our team of experienced and highly compassionate staff members is available to help.;
Days 3 To 5 Of Heroin Detox
Most heroin withdrawal symptoms subside between days three and five of detox treatment. By this time, your body will be working hard to recover from heroin withdrawal, and you may experience vomiting, chills, and abdominal cramping. Good nutrition is vital for recovery during this stage, since vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients can help strengthen your immune system and accelerate recovery.
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How Long Does It Take To Get Addicted To A Drug
Again, it depends. There isnt a simple formula for how long it takes an individual to become addicted. Some users will begin craving the drug immediately after it wears off the first time and decide to use it more.
Others may use a drug recreationally several times, or even binge on it a few times, before developing a daily drug habit.
Users of habit-forming prescription drugs may be able to prepare for and prevent dependency by speaking to their prescribing doctor about the possible risks of dependency. While short-term use of habit-forming drugs may be effective in treating some conditions, long-term use may lead to tolerance and dependency, especially in those who have a history of substance abuse.
A good indication of how habit-forming a medication is can be its half-life the time it takes for half of a drugs dosage to be metabolized and eliminated from the bloodstream.
Those with a shorter half-life may take action more quickly, but they also leave the body more quickly. These drugs have a higher risk of withdrawal symptoms and a higher risk of abuse or dependency.