Author: James Anderson

Heroin Addiction Explained: How Opioids Hijack the Brain The New York Times

why do people take heroin

Joining a support group for people in recovery from substance use may also have benefits. Anyone can administer Narcan, so you don’t need to have a medical license or medical training. You can ask your local pharmacy for it to add to your personal first aid kit. Here’s a basic rundown of what to know about using heroin, including how long it stays in your system, side effects, and signs of an overdose. Heroin was first introduced in 1898 as an upgrade to morphine.

  1. They help reset the brain’s thermostat, so it can stop thinking about opioids 24/7 and the hard work of recovery can begin.
  2. Generally speaking, the detection window tends to be shorter if you inject heroin than if you snort or smoke it.
  3. We are here to provide assistance in locating an Ark Behavioral Health treatment center that may meet your treatment needs.
  4. Whatever the reason for heroin use, this behavior has dangerous consequences and almost always leads to addiction.
  5. It will probably include medication and behavioral therapy.

As with other diseases and disorders, the likelihood of developing an addiction differs from person to person, and no single factor determines whether a person will become addicted to drugs. In general, the more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that taking drugs will lead to drug use and addiction. Protective factors, on the other hand, reduce a person’s risk.

To Seek Heightened Euphoria

Similarly, someone who has a second helping of dessert every night ends up 20 pounds heavier without any intention. A medication called naloxone can block the effects of a heroin overdose if it’s used quickly. But it also comes in measured doses as an auto-pen (Evzio) and a nasal spray (Narcan).

For example, heroin could make your heart beat very slowly, but once it wears off, the meth in your system could push your heart into overdrive. Despite being aware of these harmful outcomes, many people who use drugs continue to take them, which is the nature of addiction. This means it causes health problems, disabilities, and trouble at home, work, or school. Right after you take heroin, you get a rush of good feelings and happiness. Then, for several hours, you feel as if the world has slowed down. Experts say treatment could require six months to 20 years.

Fortunately, researchers know more than ever about how drugs affect the brain and have found treatments that can help people recover from drug addiction and lead productive lives. When they first use a drug, people may perceive what seem to be positive effects. Some people may start to feel the need to take more of a drug or take it more often, even in the early stages of their drug use. Your medical team can help you find the treatment plan that works best for you. It will probably include medication and behavioral therapy.

why do people take heroin

Therefore, education and outreach are key in helping people understand the possible risks of drug use. Teachers, parents, and health care providers have crucial roles in educating young people and preventing drug use and addiction. To understand what goes through the minds and bodies of opioid users, The New York Times spent months interviewing users, family members and addiction experts. Using their insights, we created a visual representation of how the strong lure of these powerful drugs can hijack the brain.

Heroin is an illicit opioid that has caused thousands of overdose deaths across the U.S., and that continues to contribute to the nationwide opioid epidemic. An individual may turn to heroin for any number of reasons, such as to relieve chronic pain, manage stress, or for recreational use. Heroin can be highly addictive and deadly, which is why understanding the reasons people start using can help you or your loved one identify when help is needed. Heroin has long been thought of as a risky drug, serving as a barrier to wide-scale use. However, prescription opioids are seen as much less risky, which has lowered the bar for initiating opioid use.

U.S. Overdose Deaths Set a Record Last Year

This impairment in self-control is the hallmark of addiction. Heroin is typically available in powdered form and may vary in color, usually appearing to be white or brown, but it also can take the form of a hard, sticky substance known as “black tar” heroin. Powdered heroin may be ingested by inhaling it (through the nose, i.e., “snorting”), smoking it, or injecting it into a muscle or a vein. This latter process requires boiling the powdered heroin into a liquid to draw into a syringe to inject. It’s common for a person to relapse, but relapse doesn’t mean that treatment doesn’t work.

The rush of pleasurable emotions caused by dopamine may drive a person to abuse the drug after just one use, in spite of adverse effects and the high risks of overdose death. However, heroin addiction is less likely to be attributed to recreational abuse than other drugs such as marijuana, amphetamines, ecstasy, or other prescription drugs. Addiction is a lot like other diseases, such as heart disease. Both disrupt the normal, healthy functioning of an organ in the body, both have serious harmful effects, and both are, in many cases, preventable and treatable. If left untreated, they can last a lifetime and may lead to death.

why do people take heroin

Only one in five people who need treatment for drug use actually receive care, and only about half of those are given medication, experts say. Those given medications rarely receive them for long enough. Some people may have to remain on medications indefinitely; for others, a doctor may taper them off. But doctors don’t know when the brain has reset itself and is no longer at high risk for substance use. Every person is different, and underlying issues, such as mental health problems, can affect a treatment plan. But therapy and community help increase the chances you stick with it.

Psychological effects

A drug like heroin creates a tidal wave in the reward circuits of the brain. But on the inside you feel like a master of the universe, like you’re being “hugged by Jesus,” as one user said; there’s peace in your skin and not a single feeling of pain. Those who suffer major injuries such as fractures are often prescribed painkillers for short-term chronic pain management.

Scoring the next fix feels like a race against the clock of withdrawal. It makes no sense, but this compulsion takes over all logic, judgment and self-interest. You nor your loved one are under any obligation to commit to an Ark Behavioral Health treatment program when calling our helpline. All Addiction Resource content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

You dread confronting why you started and who you have become. Willpower alone may not be enough, and quitting cold turkey could increase the risk of overdose. You’re now addicted to opioids and you no longer take the drug to get high, but to escape feeling low. The brain has adopted a new form of compulsion that can reassert itself even after years of sobriety. The brain’s response to these chemical changes make life difficult without the drug. Stress and irritability creep in, so you take more opioids to cope.

Some people are more susceptible to addiction than others. For many, opioids like heroin entice by bestowing an immediate sense of tranquility, only to trap the user in a vicious cycle that essentially rewires the brain. People who suffer from social anxiety disorders or who struggle with fitting in socially may use heroin to feel more relaxed and outgoing. These individuals may believe that heroin makes them feel happier and brave enough to thrive in social settings. Many people turn to heroin after becoming addicted to prescription painkillers.

At the time, morphine was the latest and greatest cough-suppressing medicine for people with asthma. If you think a friend or family member is using heroin, don’t wait and hope things will get better. Someone who’s overdosing may need more than one dose of naloxone or further medical care.