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Article Summary


Heroin is a powerful drug which when used can very easily lead to dependence and addiction. Nearly 4 million Americans aged 12 and older have tried the drug at least once. The problem with heroin is that it is not typically a drug which can be used every now and then in social settings. Heroin is so powerful and it's high so intense, that users often become addicted after just one use. Their whole lives then become immersed in a life of heroin addiction, a very dangerous and risky circumstance which can lead to serious social and health consequences if the individual's addiction is allowed to continue. Many heroin addicts wind up spending their life on the drug every day. Others fall prey to false solutions such as opiate maintenance therapy such as Methadone, unless they receive effective treatment for opiate addiction.

Heroin Addiction

Heroin is so addictive because of the intense feelings of reward that users experience when they take the drug, which results in one of the toughest addictions to kick. This high is experienced because of the pleasure centers in the brain and central nervous system that heroin effects, a high which is almost unrivaled when compared to other illicit street drugs. Much like other drugs of abuse however, heroin users will find themselves having to take more of the drug more often to get high, but often just to feel normal and ward off heroin withdrawal. With chronic users, even more dangerous and potentially lethal doses of heroin will have to be taken to experience the intense high users are looking for. This never ending search for the ultimate heroin high is known in the drug using community as "chasing the dragon", and heroin addicts are always trying to achieve that first euphoric and out of this world high they experienced upon first use.

How heroin addiction occurs is very simple; the body becomes accustomed to the artificial pleasure produced by heroin so ceases to produce it own pleasure inducing chemicals or starts producing them in significantly lower amounts. After all, heroin is doing just this so why bother. But when someone stops using heroin abruptly, often because they have run out and are in search for me, the user will begin going through very punishing withdrawal syndrome. If not in a treatment setting, most heroin addicted individuals will give in to these symptoms and use heroin as soon as possible to extinguish them. It is a viscous cycle that many heroin addicts know too well, and lifetime heroin users will go through this process countless numbers of times. It is like a virtual prison.

Heroin Side Effects

Heroin use undoubtedly causes pleasure for its users, although there are many more short term and long term consequences that await them, many of which are irreversible if the individual does not get help. Heroin purity is always an unknown factor for example. So someone who is used to taking a certain dose of heroin which is normally 30% pure but is not 70% pure will unknowingly be setting themselves up for an overdose, which could very possibly be fatal. Other serious consequences have to do with the way heroin is administered. For example, many rooky heroin users may begin snorting or smoking heroin, because of the stigmas that go along with intravenous drug use. Most chronic heroin users however will become intravenous users, and share dirty needles with other users. Injection gives a much faster and prolonged high, so this is the preferred method of administration for long-term heroin users. This needle sharing can of course lead to the spread of infectious disease, which is unfortunately a very common occurrence in the drug using community. So heroin users are not only sharing needles but also sharing these potentially lethal diseases which results in numerous deaths each year, as well as lifelong illness that these users will have to deal with.

Because of how addictive heroin can be, willpower is often not enough to beat such an addiction, even for individuals with the best of intentions. The physical and psychological toll that heroin abuse takes is often too much to bear and often way to difficult to overcome on one's own. From the severe drug cravings to punishing withdrawal symptoms which feel like the world is going end, heroin addicts often feel like there is no hope to ever quit. But there is hope even for the toughest cases of heroin addiction, and many people have found workable solutions which have helped them kick their habit.

Heroin Addiction Treatment

Treating heroin addiction is not an easy process, but it has and can be done if individuals are willing to dedicate themselves to the treatment process. In a drug rehab program, preferably an inpatient or residential facility, individuals who are addicted to heroin will first need to be detoxed and assisted through withdrawal. Here, heroin addicted individuals will be fully supported through withdrawal and detox both medically and emotionally. The individual will not have access to heroin during this time which can be very touch and go, and will have all of the support they need so that relapse can be avoided at all costs.

After heroin detox, there is much more to be done. Individuals should not be disillusioned by how good they feel, there is still a long road to fully recover from such a serious addiction. In a drug rehab which treats heroin addiction, treatment professionals will work with clients through one-one-one counseling, group therapy and other proven treatment methods to get down to the bottom of addiction issues. Focus will also be put on educating the treatment client on how to make better choices so they have handle situations in their life more effectively and without drugs. This can take many months, and as stated earlier should preferably be conducted in a treatment setting which will encourage and nurture a full recovery, such as an inpatient or residential drug rehab facility. Beating heroin addiction will take this type of commitment and nothing less, but individuals can beat it if they put in the time and effort to do so.

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