We’ve all seen the damage inflicted by the heroin epidemic sweeping across our nation. From
local news reports to social media, instances of overdoses and deaths associated with heroin use and addiction have become common place within our communities and neighborhoods.
The situation has grown so dire that multiple governors have declared disaster emergencies within their states, and the president himself has declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency.
With this information, and the skyrocketing death rate accompanying heroin addiction and abuse, the question must be asked: Exactly how addictive is heroin?
What is it about this substance that causes people to ignore the physical risk and social stigma associated with its use?
Delving deeper into the components of the drug provides some insight into its addictive power, as well as how it directly interacts with the human brain and why breaking the pattern of addiction can feel nearly impossible.
Addiction to heroin has become recognized as a chronic, relapsing brain disease with a wide range of serious medical consequences. Findings from brain imaging studies from people struggling with heroin addiction have identified profound disruptions in the specific brain circuits and cells that underlie heroin abuse.
This is directly attributed to the manner in which the chemical compounds found in heroin attach to receptors in the brain, overstimulating the brain’s natural reward system and fundamentally changing the manner in which the brain naturally functions.
When heroin travels through the bloodstream and into the brain, the chemicals attach to specialized proteins, called mu opioid receptors. The connection between these specific chemicals and these specific receptors trigger the same biochemical brain processes that reward people with feelings of pleasure – typically associated with basic life functions such as eating or sex.
Through excessive and even occasional use, heroin begins to overly stimulate these reward processes synthetically, motivating habitual use to achieve the pleasurable feeling now associated with the drug.
This type of behavior quickly leads to a tolerance, which gives way to dependence in the blink of an eye.
A number of factors go into the development of a substance use disorder. From genetically inherited traits to environmental factors throughout your adolescence and formative years, the contributing factors of any substance addiction vary from person to person and are difficult to definitively identify.
That being said, becoming physically addicted to heroin after one use is extremely unlikely. It takes time for the effects of the substance to alter your physical makeup and imbed itself into your physical being.
However, it is not outside the realm of possibility to become so enamored with heroin after your first use that you immediately turn to the substance to address mental health or emotional issues.
The psychological impact of heroin use cannot be overstated due to its ability to induce feelings of euphoria within the user, drowning out feelings of anxiety, depression, sorrow or pain in an effective and extremely dangerous manner.
Someone using heroin for the first time who has struggled with excessive emotionality or mental health issues for some time could potentially latch on to the drug, perceiving the
substance to be a life raft, when in reality, it is an anchor dragging them to their demise.
Regardless of your path to addiction, there’s no denying the devastating effects and personal destruction associated with the disease. The physical toll that heroin use of any type has on both the mind and body can leave a person feeling lost, hopeless and utterly defeated.
It is at these despondent moments that true direction and purpose can be found: you simply need to know where to look.
Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us all to trust in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding but submit to Him and He will guide our path.
Understanding that the struggles of addiction are not yours alone can provide encouragement and strength when needed most.
Remember, the name of the Lord is a fortified tower, a stronghold, to run to when facing struggles to receive safety and reassurance. Overcoming a heroin addiction is no simple task, but you can do all things through Christ the Lord who strengthens you.
At Covenant Hills, we know exactly where you’re at. We know what your heroin addiction has put your through and we understand the uncertainly of your current state of mind.
If you’re wondering if you can really get clean or stay sober, the answer is yes.
With faith, hope and life-changing help and support, you can leave your heroin addiction behind you.
Through our Christian-based heroin addiction rehab program, your mind, body and soul will be restored, and you will leave here with a brand-new life ahead of you.
Learn about our Christian-based heroin addiction treatment programs, or contact us for a free and confidential assessment.
National Institutes of Health. Heroin Addiction. Accessed September 10, 2018. https://report.nih.gov/NIHfactsheets/ViewFactSheet.aspx?csid=123.
National Center for Biotechnology Information. The Neurobiology of Opioid Dependence: Implications for Treatment. Accessed September 10, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2851054/.