Heroin is obtained from the opium poppy, a flower that is native to South America, Asia, and Mexico. It is an opioid that makes the brain produce more of the happy hormone dopamine. Like many other hard drugs, heroin causes the feeling of being high. However, the drug is highly addictive, and users may find it difficult to stop. Unfortunately, the continuous use of heroin has a lot of adverse effects on the quality of life and medical, physical, and mental well-being.
Since 1924 the United States has banned the use of heroin, notwithstanding a high number of people continue using this dangerous drug. In this article, we will discuss what makes heroin addictive, the effects of heroin use on the body, and brain, how to detox from the substance, and treatment for heroin addicts.
Why is Heroin Addictive?
We all need dopamine to feel normal, get in a good more, feel pleasure, and be motivated. Dopamine also plays many more functions within the cells. However, the brain is capable of producing the quantity of dopamine needed at any particular time. The use of opioids like heroin will lead to excessive production of dopamine. This will significantly influence the mood and the feeling of pleasure instantly. Apart from the pleasurable feelings, it will also stop any painful sensations, hence acting as a pain killer. This may last for some hours.
Unfortunately, continuous use of the drug will make the brain get used to it such that the brain will no longer produce dopamine naturally again. You will then need the medication to produce the happy hormone. The more you continue using heroin, the more quantity of it will be needed to be effective.
Due to the brain’s inability to produce dopamine naturally, regular users of the drug will soon find it difficult to live an everyday life again without the drug. To get the same happy feeling or to even feel normal, users will have to go back to the drug. Which will soon become an addiction, and they won’t be able to do life without it.
Effects of Heroin Addiction
The more addicted a user is to heroin, the more quantity he will need to attend the same level of pleasure he used to attain. Unfortunately, heroin slows down the rate of respiration and heartbeat. If too much of the drug is taken, it might make the heart stop beating entirely and lead to death.
Apart from this dangerous risk of a heroin overdose, heroin addiction usually has a tremendous negative impact on life quality. The drug being an illegal substance, it is generally very costly to get. Hence users spend a lot of money that could be used for better things on it. Many students had dropped out of school after using their school fees and living allowances to purchase the drug. People used to sell their properties to buy addictive drugs. Some people stole to get enough money to satisfy their drug addiction.
Heroin addiction can also affect the brain leading to agitation, aggression, depression, memory loss, mood swings, and speech problems. It can also cause other medical and physical abnormalities like running nose, constipation, drowsiness, eye constriction, nose sores, and a reduced sense of pain.
Long-term use of the drug can affect the blood vessels as well as the heart. It can also cause arthritis.
Treatment for Heroin Addiction
The first thing to do when seeking treatment for heroin addiction is to stop using the drug. It will undoubtedly lead to withdrawal symptoms. Most people who are undergoing heroin detox often experience pains, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. This might be mild to severe. The severity depends on the quantity of the drug used in the past and the time the person had been abusing the drug. In most cases, these symptoms are usually so severe that the addict may be thinking of using the same heroin he is trying to stop for treating the symptoms. Therefore, it is always good to detox under the supervision of a medical practitioner.
Medication to relieve the symptoms of withdrawal and any other associated ailment can be used by the addict, as there might not be any medical treatment for heroin addiction,
Craving and relapse are other challenges that an addict may face. The desire may be so intense at the beginning of the detox process that many people quickly go back to the drug. And some users also relapsed after they had detox successfully and clean up heroin. To overcome these challenges, psychological therapy may be necessary.
The therapy could be done on an individual basis, or it could be group therapy. During the treatment, the addict should identify the cause of his heroin abuse, learn how to cope with the withdrawal symptoms and craving, and avoid relapse.
Apart from medical treatment and therapy, an addict trying to stop heroin use can get help from various support groups. There are as well different online communities that offer support to drug addicts that need assistance.
Heroin is an opioid that triggers the brain to produce more happy hormones. It makes the user experience a high level of pleasure and prevents feelings of pain. However, the brain soon gets used to it and makes users unable to feel pleasure again without the drug. This makes it addictive. The more a user continues using heroin, the more the drug he will need to feel the pleasure.
Heroin has many adverse effects on the quality of life. It also causes medical health problems as well as physical disorders. Heroin also slows down the breathing rate; hence an overdose of the drug may stop the heart from beating and lead to death. To be free of heroin addiction, a user must stop taking the drug, go for therapy, and seek help from support groups. Although there might not be any medicine to prevent addiction, an addict undergoing detox may use medication to treat the consequent symptoms of withdrawal.