How Addictive is Heroin?

The national opioid epidemic, which has ravaged the country for well over a decade, has been predominantly driven by heroin. Initially, the widespread availability of prescription opioids (such as Hydrocodone, Fentanyl, Codeine, Methadone, and Oxycodone) led to an increase in drug abuse. When the government finally cracked down on the distribution of narcotic painkillers, those who had developed addictions turned to heroin – a cheaper and widely available alternative.

According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the amount of heroin users throughout the US has grown by 135 percent since 2002. About 948,000 Americans admitted to having used heroin within the past year. The majority of heroin users are young adults, mostly between the ages of 18 and 25. The same survey suggested that in 2016, there were nearly 170,000 first-time heroin users. Unfortunately, most first-time users become second-time users, and so on and so on. In short – those who use heroin once will not necessarily become addicted, but using one time will typically lead to using again, and will increase the chances of addiction greatly.

The Addictive Nature of Heroin

Most first-time users will take heroin nasally or orally, either by snorting or smoking the drug in powder form. As use continues, tolerance increases and users will begin taking in larger amounts. At this stage, many heroin users will switch to injection, seeing as this method delivers greater amounts of the drug in a more efficient manner. It is rather uncommon to develop an addiction to anything during the initial use. However, those that use heroin once are far more likely to use the drug again, and repeated use – as we all know – increases susceptibility to addiction down the road. It is estimated that one out of every four individuals who try heroin once will use it again, and eventually develop a severe dependency.

Unfortunately, when it comes to methods of use, many are misinformed. They may believe that snorting or smoking the substance will reduce the risk of addiction – this is not the case. While it can be easier to overdose when the drug is injected intravenously, it is equally as dangerous (as far as addiction goes) regardless of which method one utilizes.

Why Do People Use Heroin?

The reason why individuals choose to experiment with such a dangerous drug will vary on a person-to-person basis. As is the case with all chemical substances, abuse typically stems from a deep-seated sense of dissatisfaction – usual dissatisfaction with self or current circumstances. Self-medicating also goes hand-in-hand with untreated mental illness. Many individuals suffering from undiagnosed or untreated mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder will turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of alleviating unpleasant symptoms. If an individual with a mental health disorder begins using heroin, chances of addiction increase – and in order to recover long-term, both issues must be treated at once.

Get the Help You Need to Kick Opioid Abuse

We at Recreate Life Counseling understand the seriousness of heroin use, and we believe that heroin addiction must be treated as soon as signs and symptoms begin to appear. If heroin addiction is left untreated, the chances of fatality continuously increase. We focus on treating addiction with a combination of effective modalities, predominantly focusing on group and individual therapy. If you or someone you love has been struggling with heroin addiction or experimenting with narcotics at all, please feel free to give us a call today. We will discuss treatment options, and do our best to point you in the right direction.