Heroin is one of the most addictive substances in the world. In 2012, the National Survey on Drug Use estimated that over 650,000 people in the United States had used the drug in the preceding year. This number has steadily increased since 2007.
This highly addictive drug is a derivative of morphine, a substance found in many different types of poppy plants. The drug, itself, is often injected, smoked, or snorted. Less pure types of the drug must be injected intravenously.
Short Term Effects
The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids describes the feeling of “high” obtained from this drug as being extremely euphoric. Almost instantaneously after taking the drug, the user experiences a “warm” rush. The user’s mouth might dry up, and their extremities might feel very heavy. Shortly after this initial, euphoric stage, the user will begin to “nod off.” When a user nods, they slowly alternate between senses of drowsiness and wakefulness. The central nervous system may get intensely depressed, causing clouded mental functioning. Some users will also experience constipation and vomiting along with their “highs”.
Why is This Drug Highly Addictive?
To understand addiction to this drug, you must understand what happens on a physiological level in the body when the drug is taken.
The Washington Post released an easy-to-understand article that helps people understand how this drug can change a person’s life in the blink of an eye.
In the center of the brain, there is a cluster of nerve cells referred to as “nucleus accumbens.” When you do something pleasurable, such as having sex or eating your favorite kind of food, the region of nucleus accumbens is flooded with dopamine. When you feel pleasure while doing an activity that you enjoy, this particular rush directly stems from this chemical transfer. Drugs, especially heroin, are also capable of triggering this type of reaction. However, when this reaction happens because of drug use, the surge from dopamine lasts quite longer.
Repeatedly subjecting someone’s nucleus accumbens to dopamine via drugs, will cause exhaustion over time. Death can occur with significant long term exposure. This means that it becomes harder for the brain to experience pleasure over time. Eventually, the user will require consumption of the drug to experience a normal amount of pleasure.
Long Term Effects
This drug is extremely destructive in nature, and it leaves behind a gruesome aftermath. Some of these long-lasting effects include:
- Poor dental hygiene
- Weakened immune system
- Respiratory conditions
- Impotence and reduced libido
- Memory loss
- Facial pustules
What is the Best Treatment Option?
The best option for recovery is committing to a full-time treatment plan at an addiction center. Treatment centers provide many different resources and treatment strategies for effectively recovering from physical dependence. If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin addiction, the time to act is now. Problems with drugs do not go away on their own or become better over time. Search for the recovery plan that’s right for you.
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