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What Are The Underlying Causes of Heroin Addiction?

7/26/17

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Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs in the opiate class. It's also one of the most addictive drugs, period. A derivative of morphine, heroin is a fast-acting substance that works by blocking the pain-receptors of the brain, releasing artificial endorphins, and causing a euphoric, weightless effect in the user.

Although heroin has been available for over a century, in the last decade a full blown heroin epidemic has spread from coast to coast, with countless individuals losing their lives to this powerful drug. However, to get to the root of the epidemic, we must first look at what may be causing users to abuse the drugs in the first place.

What Are Underlying Causes of Substance Abuse?
As with many mental health problems, family history of addiction is often a major risk factor. Genetics cannot guarantee that a person will suffer from substance abuse, just as a family history of heart disease cannot guarantee a person will suffer from a heart attack. That being said, family history and genetics definitely increases the risk of addiction.

A child who grows up with an alcoholic parent who uses liquor to reduce their stress may see alcohol and other drugs as a viable stress-reliever when they're old enough to drink. When young children see parents using alcohol, pills, or other drugs, this behavior becomes normalized. A kind of peer pressure, a person's environment can increase their tolerance to reckless and self-destructive behavior, meaning they are less likely to see drug use as a problem.

However, environmental exposure isn't the only risk factor. Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to substance abuse, depression, or anxiety. If that person experiments with drugs and/or alcohol later in life, they are more likely to develop dependency than their peers.

What Causes The Addiction To The Substance?
The body naturally develops its own endorphins, a natural chemical in the brain that allows you to feel pleasure or joy. Endorphins are often released during sex, physical activity, or even during the simple act of petting a dog. When a person begins using opiates -- including painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin, and others, as well as morphine and heroin -- the drug acts as a kind of artificial endorphin. This causes the brain to stop producing its own natural endorphins.

Therefore, when a person attempts to stop using opiates, there's a period of time in which the brain fails to produce its own natural endorphins. This physical dependency causes a slew of horrific side effects including intense depression, extreme pain, and flu-like symptoms such as hot or cold chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting. This withdrawal stage can be overwhelming for a majority of substance abusers, which keeps them from properly undergoing detoxification. Their body literally needs the drug to function properly.

What Makes The Opioid Epidemic Different?
Many states have begun to sue pharmaceutical companies for their lack of warning regarding the addictive nature of their most popular painkillers. As a result, many doctors have overprescribed opioids to their patients for pain-relief for extended periods of time. Among heroin addicts, four out of five developed their addiction through the misuse of prescription painkillers such as OxyContin.

How Methadone Treatments Can Help You
It's often the withdrawal stage that makes it difficult for heroin addicts to get clean. As a result, many doctors and addiction specialists no longer recommend abstinence-only recovery program. When a heroin user can't stop on their own, a methadone clinic is a viable option for heroin addiction treatment. A methadone treatment program is a form of medication-assisted therapy. The methadone activates the pain-receptors of the brain much like heroin, allowing patients to finally break the cycle of addiction and withdrawal.

By reducing the terror of withdrawal, the patient can successfully undergo detoxification and rehabilitation.

If you or a loved one is suffering from heroin or opioid addiction, it's time to ask for help.

Looking for heroin treatment in Chicago? Contact Sundance Methadone Treatment Center today. Recovery is possible.


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