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Heroin is a highly addictive, rapidly acting opiate that is derived from morphine. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies heroin as a Schedule I Substance, which are defined as “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Heroin is an illegal drug and therefore is not regulated by any overseeing entity. This allows for many different heroin manufacturers, each having sole discretion over the production process, potency, additives, and purity of the heroin they make, and can change any part of their process at whim. Hence, every consumer of heroin is essentially unaware of the exact substance they are purchasing and ingesting, which can be extremely dangerous.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse habitual use of heroin can lead to short and long term changes in one’s brain. Due to its addictive nature, any person that uses heroin repeatedly, regardless of any predisposed risk factor for developing a drug addiction (e.g., family history of addiction, exposure to drugs at a young age, mental health disorder, etc.) is in danger of developing a physical and psychological addiction to heroin. Heroin is recognized as one of the most addictive substances available. Furthermore, the American Society of Addiction Medicine reports that nearly one in four individuals who use heroin go on to develop an addiction.

How It Works

Heroin works by affecting neurotransmitters that communicate with the brain’s reward center. It can be abused in different ways such as intravenously (injected), inhaled (snorted), and/ or smoked. The method of ingestions does not affect the speed at which heroin crosses the blood-brain barrier. Upon entering the body heroin rapidly moves to the brain and quickly begins shifting the way one’s central nervous system functions, affecting one’s ability to control heart rate, breathing, and sleeping. Heroin binds to the mu-opioid receptors (MORs) in one’s body, akin to the naturally occurring chemicals in one’s brain that regulate pain, feelings of wellbeing, and the release of hormones. When MORs are activated, one’s brain responds by releasing dopamine, known as the feel-good-neurotransmitter by Psychology Today. Activating opioid receptors via heroin, instead of allowing the natural release of dopamine can lead to feelings of euphoria and its altering activity in the limbic system (area of the brain that controls emotions) can reinforce drug-taking behaviors. 

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com.

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