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Understanding Why Heroin Is So Addictive


Treating a heroin addiction outside of a medical rehab center is often ineffective, because heroin is a highly addictive drug that has traumatic effects on the brain. Without medical support and intervention to manage the process of withdrawal, breaking the bonds of a heroin addiction can be incredibly painful both mentally and physically. Here is an overview of why heroin addictionis so powerful and challenging to overcome.

Chemical effects in the brain

Heroin mimics the effects of endorphins in the brain, but it is much more powerful than the chemical endorphins naturally produced in the body. Therefore, the user feels a euphoric high that he or she has never previously experienced. While it is a misconception that heroin users become addicted after their first use, the chemical responses of the drug in the brain do make the drug addictive very quickly.

Increasing tolerance

When heroin is used regularly, tolerance increases quickly, so more of the drug is needed to achieve the same high. Over time, opioid receptors become worn down and less sensitive to the drug. This causes users to fall into a pattern of use in which more and more of the drug is used to chase an unattainable high.

Effects of withdrawal

The first phase of heroin withdrawal feels like a severe flu. A person in withdrawal may vomit, sneeze, and experience body aches. Muscle spasms, severe depression, and chills are also common to withdrawal. Attempting to manage these symptoms without prescribed antianxiety medications and ongoing medical monitoring can result in a quick relapse shortly after heroin cessation. It is also important to break the addiction on a psychological level once the physical effects of withdrawal have subsided.

At Aurora Las Encinas Hospital, you can find a multi-disciplinary approach to addiction recovery. You can reach our Pasadena treatment center on our website or call us directly at (888) 348-2165.