There is no mistake as to why the saying “all it takes is one time” is used so often in the drug use prevention and addiction field. Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs that a person can abuse. It is common now for heroin to be laced with an even more potent drug, fentanyl, or an even stronger drug, carfentanyl. Heroin is derived from morphine, a natural substance removed from the seed of the opium poppy plant. American Addiction Centers state that heroin is classified as an illegal drug with no accepted medicinal uses in the United States by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Unfortunately, heroin use comes with a high risk of developing an addiction. Heroin addiction is one of the most pressing public health issues today.
At BrightView, our team understands that heroin addiction is a disease, not a result of laziness or lack of willpower. We treat each person in our heroin addiction treatment program with the respect and dignity they deserve. If you or a loved one might benefit from a treatment program at BrightView, reach out to our team online or at 1-833-510-HELP.
How Does Heroin Addiction Develop?
Heroin enters the brain quickly and binds to opioid receptors on cells that control a person’s pain and pleasure responses. It also affects the cells controlling a person’s heart rate, sleeping, and breathing. How long it takes to get addicted to heroin varies based on the amount used, the frequency of use, and the individual’s overall physiological makeup, such as weight and metabolism. The release of dopamine that comes from using heroin and the euphoric feeling it gives the user can leave the brain wanting more.”
Everyone can possess differing potentials for establishing an addiction. Anyone who uses heroin risks developing a physical and psychological dependence on it following repeated use. One of BrightView’s Peer Recovery Supporter Specialists, Matt, who has been sober for six and a half years, reflects on his experience with addiction; “I spent years doctor shopping to get pain pills. However, they inevitably ran out. With no more prescriptions and most of my friends moving on to heroin, I had no choice but to try it. I thought to myself, ‘I’ll just do it this once until I can get some more pills.’ Since that day, I have never did another pain pill. Heroin was much more powerful and cheaper. I ended up using heroin ‘once’ for four straight years.”
If you’re looking for more of a strictly scientific recap of how the brain and a person can get addicted so quickly to heroin, this article written by The National Center for Biotechnology Information gets into the biological details. It states, “one of the brain circuits that is activated by opioids is the mesolimbic (midbrain) reward system. This system generates signals in a part of the brain called the ventral tegmental area (VTA) that release the chemical dopamine in another part of the brain, the nucleus accumbens. This release of dopamine into the nucleus accumbens causes feelings of pleasure. Other areas of the brain create a lasting memory that associates these good feelings with the circumstances and environment in which they occur. These memories, called conditioned associations, often lead to the craving for drugs when the abuse re-encounters those people, places, or things, and they drive abusers to seek out more drugs in spite of many obstacles.”
Another one of our amazing Peer Recovery Support Specialists at BrightView, Kelli, has been sober for five years now. Her story is incredible, yet no doubt a warning as well.
She says, “When I was eighteen, I was working and paying bills, but I was also living a “party” lifestyle. I smoked marijuana daily and occasionally would use other substances. I was at a friend’s house one weekend and they were using heroin. I really didn’t know much about heroin and I definitely had no idea about addiction. I can remember not even second-guessing trying it. I liked how it made me feel and it started to become a regular thing.
Kelli continues, “One day I wasn’t feeling good and I was super emotional and really couldn’t figure out why.” Then, Kelli heard something that changed her life forever. “I called my friend and was telling her how I felt, and she said, ‘I bet it’s because you haven’t done any of that stuff’. I thought, ‘there’s no way that’s it.’ I eventually tried it again and sure enough, I felt better instantly. I remember at that moment thinking ‘Oh no, this can’t be good.’ But I continued to use it for at least another ten years. I wish I would have known what I was getting into. I had no idea how quickly it would take over my whole life.”
Many people have had a similar experience as Kelli, where casual drug use spirals quickly into heroin addiction. Most people who are stuck in the endless cycle of heroin addiction will need the support and expertise of addiction specialists to overcome their substance use.
Although Kelli struggled with substance use, she made the courageous decision to reach out for help from BrightView. Our holistic approach to heroin addiction treatment heals the mind, body, and spirit and prepares our patients for a lifestyle that is free from heroin use.
However, the most challenging step in a recovery journey recognizes that addiction has developed. Often, friends and family members are the first to see that a heroin addiction has developed in a loved one. Therefore, it is crucial to know some of the most common signs of heroin addiction.
Some signs that heroin addiction has formed include:
- Continued use despite heroin-related problems with work, family, or other responsibilities
- Failing to quit or cut down the use of a substance
- Having strong cravings
- Building up a tolerance to opioids
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms or feeling sick
- Taking opioids or using heroin in dangerous situations
Choose BrightView for Comprehensive and Caring Addiction Treatment
There is no doubt that heroin is a scary and unpredictable drug. Our BrightView team is here for you every step of the way if you feel as though you need help with addiction. If you or someone you know might be addicted to heroin and seek help, we encourage you to contact BrightView today. Our friendly and caring recovery center staff answer the phones twenty-four hours a day at 1-833-510-HELP, or you can schedule an induction online.