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How Heroin Addiction Develops

a man contemplates how his heroin addiction developed

Many highly addictive drugs have a reputation for causing addiction quickly. In fact, some drugs are said to cause addiction in as little as one hit. One of the most dangerous drugs is heroin, an opioid drug made from morphine derived from the opium poppy plant.

Fortunately, while heroin is one of the most addictive drugs in the world, it does not cause addiction that fast. However, the immediate effect it gives a first-time user makes them want to take the drug repeatedly, just to get that feeling.

This repetitive use of heroin in pursuit of that ‘high’ is what causes heroin addiction in the long run. If you or a loved one may be addicted to heroin, you should immediately seek a heroin addiction treatment program at a facility such as Rockland Recovery. Our staff has years of experience giving people the tools that they need to end their dependence on heroin.

About Heroin and Addiction

Heroin is a white or brown powder derived from various opium poppy plants. However, it can also be a black sticky substance often called black tar. They can smoke, snort, or inject heroin and some people mix it with other substances such as cocaine for an extra high.

Heroin is known in the streets as big H, horse, smack, and dust.

While anyone can start using heroin out of peer pressure, some common risk factors can lead to heroin addiction. Some of these include genetics, mental illness, depression, and anxiety. However, a major risk factor of heroin use today is prescription drug addiction. When a doctor prescribes opioid painkillers, it is possible to develop an addiction. Once the prescription runs out, many people move on to heroin, a cheaper alternative that can be easily found.

What Causes Heroin Addiction?

Heroin is a powerful opioid that creates strong feelings of euphoria when taken. The person feels an overwhelming rush of pleasure, power, and diminished pain, both emotional and physical.

Heroin works by binding itself to opioid receptors on cells and activating a high dopamine release. The immediate effects of taking heroin include:

  • Euphoria or extreme pleasure
  • Flushing or feeling warmth on the skin
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Slowed breathing and heart rate
  • Dilated pupils

After a person smokes or snorts heroin for the first time, they immediately have feelings of pleasure. They feel like nothing can ever take them down. When the drug wears off, they still want to feel that way, so they take another hit of heroin.

Unfortunately, the body adapts to heroin pretty quickly, and in a short time, the body becomes addicted. For people to remain high, they have to increase the amount of dosage taken. People who start with smoking the drug often graduate to injecting themselves with it to speed up the process of feeling high and make it more intense.

At this point, their body starts developing a dependency, and they need more and more heroin to feel good.

Because of the forced dopamine release caused by heroin use, their body stops producing dopamine naturally, which means that nothing else but the drug gives them pleasure. If they continue to use the drug and can no longer function without it, they spend more time and money on heroin than anything else; this is a sign of heroin addiction.

Get Help for Heroin Addiction at Rockland Recovery

The feeling that people get after taking heroin comes at a very high cost. Some side effects of heroin addiction include:

  • Lung and liver damage
  • Insomnia
  • Heart and circulatory infections
  • Collapsed veins
  • Hypoxia

Heroin is also one of the leading causes of a fatal drug overdose.

Luckily, heroin addiction is not a death sentence. Addicts can still recover and start their life over if they seek help now. At Rockland Recovery Treatment Centers, we have an addiction treatment staff that will help them through the process of recovery.

They don’t have to do this alone. Call us today at 844.334.2502, and we will get them the help they need.

Medical Reviewer Kate Perfetti, LADC II

Medically Reviewed by Kate Perfetti, LADC II

Kate is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor who has worked in the field of substance abuse for the last nine years. At Rockland Recovery, Kate works to provide resources to the local community and engage and progress Rockland Recovery’s alumni program.


Take the First Step Toward Recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, we encourage you to request a confidential call to explore treatment options, ask questions, and receive support from experienced professionals. We know taking this first step can be challenging, but it’s a courageous and important part of the recovery journey.

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