What is Heroin Addiction? – Heroin addiction is a serious health condition that impacts the user’s life in several adverse ways. It is an illicit psychoactive substance that has a high potential for abuse and dependence and has become one of the leading causes of addiction and overdose in the United States today.
Heroin works, in part, as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant and reduces neurological activity in the human body, thereby inducing relaxation and sedation. Heavy use, however, can result in life-threating respiratory arrest and other complications that may lead to coma or death.
Heroin is addictive because it acts on chemicals in the brain that contribute to feelings of reward and well-being. When these chemicals are rapidly released, the user experiences a rush of euphoria or what is called being “high.”
Over time, heroin use leads to dependence, a condition in which the user’s body can no longer function normally in the drug’s absence. When a user quits abruptly or dramatically cuts back, their body struggles to regain balance. This internal tug-of-war results in withdrawal symptoms that can persist for several days.
Many of heroin’s withdrawal effects, although not usually fatal, can be highly unpleasant and involve uncomfortable and sometimes painful mental, emotional, and physical components.
Tolerance to a drug occurs when the body begins to require increasing amounts of the drug in order to produce the pleasurable results that the user is seeking. This effect can best be described as repeated exposure = diminished response.
Moreover, after a period of regular use, receptors in the brain affected by the drug become desensitized and the user begins to have difficulty achieving the high they desire. They attempt to remedy this problem by using more of the drug more frequently or in higher doses, a dangerous pattern of behavior that significantly increases the risk of fatality.
Heroin addiction cannot be cured, but persons who seek treatment from addiction specialists can experience long-term sobriety and wellness.
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