Author: James Anderson

Why Is Heroin So Addictive? Changes in Brain Chemistry

why is heroin so addictive

If detox is physically impossible to endure, further treatment will be less effective. To enhance the safety of detox, it’s best the person is medically supervised. Because of this, medication can ease cravings and physical withdrawal symptoms, reducing the likelihood of using heroin during detox. It can include genetic, psychological, and environmental factors. Sometimes opioid use disorder begins with legal drugs like painkillers that are prescribed after a surgery or some other injury. These pain-relieving drugs act in similar ways to heroin.

  1. Heroin affects the parts of the brain in charge of pleasure, depression, anxiety and sedation.
  2. Today, drug trafficking organizations in multiple countries smuggle several different types of heroin into the United States.
  3. It also gets the drug to the brain more quickly than if heroin was swallowed.
  4. This phase of treatment helps individuals overcome withdrawal symptoms in a safe environment.

Many individuals don’t realize they have a problem until they’ve developed a full-blown heroin addiction. The longer they wait to enter heroin treatment, the more addicted they become. Your medical team can help you find the treatment plan that works best for you. It will probably include medication and behavioral therapy.

Heroin Addiction: What You Should Know

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). In some states, you don’t need a doctor’s prescription to get Narcan.

why is heroin so addictive

But when a person smokes, injects or snorts a drug, it can reach the brain in seconds. The brain is more likely to become addicted to a drug when the full dose of the drug enters the brain all at once. Heroin is rarely swallowed in a pill, so it’s more likely to cause addiction because it’s almost always used in high-risk ways. People who take heroin often describe feelings of euphoria, although this is often short lived.

Why People Abuse Heroin

They may also experience unpleasant side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, and itching. Several government and non-profit organizations can provide support for heroin addiction. Unlike some other types of opioids, it has no recognized medical use in the United States.

Individuals who are dependent on heroin commonly take the drug to stave off uncomfortable heroin withdrawal symptoms. Rather than using the drug to get high, they take it to avoid feeling dope sick. When a person uses heroin, the drug enters the blood stream and goes straight to the brain. Heroin affects the parts of the brain in charge of pleasure, depression, anxiety and sedation. That’s why people who use heroin feel happy and relaxed.

Most addictive drugs change the way the brain’s motivation and reward systems work. The brain is designed to remember experiences that cause pleasure. It’s also designed to motivate us to repeat these experiences in the future. Addictive substances trick the brain, making it motivate us to seek drugs. This will likely require treatment and support to help recovery. People who misuse opioids such as heroin may have an opioid use disorder (OUD).

Why Is Heroin So Addictive?

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. These medications soften the cravings without causing euphoria. They help reset the brain’s thermostat, so it can stop thinking about opioids 24/7 and the hard work of recovery can begin. A drug like heroin creates a tidal wave in the reward circuits of the brain. To an outsider, it looks as though you have passed out.

What to Do if You Think Someone Is Using Heroin

Heroin is so addictive because of the way that it affects the brain. The way that people use heroin makes brain adaptations occur more quickly. It doesn’t cause a euphoric rush as intense as the rush caused by cocaine or crystal meth. But heroin is often described as one of the most addictive drugs. Heroin is a highly addictive drug that some people use for recreational purposes.

This results in the person taking higher or more frequent doses of the opioid in order to achieve the same level of good feeling. 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. More than one million people have died since 1999 from a drug overdose. The U.S. opioid overdose death rate rose by 14% from 2020 to 2021.