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Why is It So Hard to Quit Heroin?
There are many people that have talked about how addictive heroin is before. But too often people believe that this is the stuff of legends instead of an actual problem. The truth is that a large percentage of people who use the drug just once, develop an addiction to it. Estimates place the number of people who become dependent after using only once at 20 percent. While some may not believe that this number is particularly frightening, remember that this is double the percentage of most illicit substances that we know of. There is no denying that it is one of the most destructive drugs in the world.
Recovery is Different
One of the largest myths about addiction is that recovery from one substance is the same as recovery from another. This myth takes on many different forms, including the pseudo-science approach of the 12-step program that would treat someone struggling with cannabis dependence the same way as someone struggling with cocaine dependence. The truth is that heroin recovery is not like recovering from any other substance. Because of some of the addictive properties that this substance has, the substance itself makes it especially challenging for someone to recover from.
What Makes It So Dangerously Addictive?
Unlike most illicit substances, heroin immediately travels to the brain once it enters into our bloodstream. Most substances decide to play around in our brains for a while, but this drug decides to take over completely. To be more specific, once heroin enters into the brain, it takes over for those specific areas of the brain that produce reward sensations to our body and parts of the brain that are responsible for physical dependence.
What it does is stop the production of natural feel good sensations. This means the body is unable to produce any more pleasurable feelings all by itself. In short, once the drug has taken over, it has made it so that the brain refuses to release any more pleasurable endorphins until the user decides to ingest the substance again. It causes neurochemical and molecular changes in the brain. In fact, once the ingestion of the drug stops, the negative effects are going to occur rather quickly. The body is at a complete loss without these pleasurable sensations. Some of the physical symptoms that a user has to deal with during withdrawal include coma, severe cramps, seizures and in some cases, these withdrawal symptoms may prove to be fatal.
This is one of the reasons that people have such a hard time ending their heroin use. The only way that they are able to avoid these negative symptoms from occurring is by reinforcing the original message that the substance sent in the first place- keep giving me these artificial feelings or you are just not going to have them anymore. Yes, that does mean that after continued use, the user has to decide whether he or she wants to feel happy or whether he or she wants to recover from addiction. All the feelings and sensations that make us happy throughout the day no longer matter. For many of these users, the only thing that matters is the drug. This is why so many people quickly develop an addiction to the drug. What started as a way to feel those pleasurable sensations and have a mellow, enjoyable day now becomes something that the user needs in order to avoid those painful withdrawal symptoms. What once started as positive feelings now just becomes a coping mechanism in order to avoid feeling utterly empty and miserable.
The Normal Body Processes Begin to Shut Down
As the use of the drug increases as the tolerance builds up, eventually the natural neurotransmitter process is going to shut down entirely. This leads to the aforementioned excruciating pain and discomfort. This is a complete 180 degrees from the pleasurable sensations that the person was after before. Imagine a life where nothing other than heroin provides motivation or pleasure.
The Risks Begin to Add Up
The problems begin to add up as addiction continues. Not only does it do long-term damage to the body itself, but the risk of a fatal overdose increases with each use. Because using too much of the drug can be fatal, an overdose is extremely dangerous. The users personal hygiene starts to become less important, they start to neglect their financial responsibilities and focus on the drug itself. Many times people manipulate or neglect their most important interpersonal relationships in order continue using.
What is the Risk of an Overdose?
Because of the direct effects on the central nervous system and the potency, heroin is especially dangerous when it comes to an overdose. Because most users have no idea of the potency of their ingested narcotic, they are not sure how their body will react to the drug.
The central nervous system responds to an overdose the following ways:
An overdose may prove to be fatal without immediate emergency medical treatment. In order to counteract the effects of the narcotic, users will need emergency medication, intravenous fluids and respiratory support.
Recovery is Possible
There are no two ways about it- recovering from a heroin addiction is extremely difficult. The withdrawal symptoms alone are enough to make most people rethink their decision. For people who have gone through it, they readily admit that it is the most challenging thing that they have ever done in their life. For most people, the best and only way to recover from the drug is through long-term rehabilitation. Because of the tremendous impact that the substance has on the brain, it can take weeks, possibly even months before positive changes are made. If you know someone who is dependent on this dangerous substance, do not wait another moment but make sure to find professional help.