How Addictive is Heroin?
Heroin is extremely addictive but only in the right circumstances.
Heroin is a very strong opioid and if taken can cause overdose and death. If taken by a person with a high tolerance to opioids they will feel an overwhelming sense of euphoria.
If someone takes an opioid they will feel pain relief or even high. If they do so just one time they will likely not get addicted to it. If they continue to take it regularly they will develop a dependency on it. That means that their brain becomes tolerant to the effects of the opioid and the pain control or euphoria will not be as strong as before. In that case they may be tempted to take more of it or a stronger drug like heroin. The other problem is that they can have severe withdrawal if they stop taking it in which case they need to take more to feel normal again.
Many heroin addicted people tell me that they are always chasing the high from the first time they used the drug and can’t seem to ever get there again. Eventually they do not even get high anymore and instead just have to use it to avoid the bad withdrawals.
How does Addiction to Opioids happen?
Addiction is different from dependence. Addiction implies that problems have started to occur as a result of the drug use and despite those problems the person continues to seek the drug.
Addiction also develops when you try to self treat psychological stress. Our human brain has developed ways to help physical stress for example, if you are being attacked your body release epinephrine to help you escape the danger. If you are low on nutrients the brain release a hormone called Ghrelin to make you feel hungry. When you are cold, the hair on your arms will stand up and your heart will pump blood faster to help you warm up.
When you experience psychological stress, your brain doesn’t know what to do to relieve this stress, it tries to find ways by seeking comfort in a parent or a partner or allow time to go by to decrease it but if it happens to find a drug that instantly relieves the stress it will try to remember this drug for future use. If you experience stress again your brain will signal for you to get the drug again.
This is the basic formula for how addiction happens, so to answer the question; Is Heroin Addictive?
Yes, in the right circumstance.