Most people who use heroin know that it is dangerous and leads to addiction (and in some cases, overdoses). Heroin creates an intense feeling of euphoria and an individual can become addicted after one use. What many don’t understand is that heroin is physically addicting and the withdrawal can be uncomfortable. It is that uncomfortable feeling that keeps those who use heroin unable to stop on their own. Those who develop heroin addiction must seek detox and treatment.
How Heroin Works
Heroin is an addictive substance that comes from morphine. Although pharmaceutical companies make morphine from the seeds of poppy plants, heroin isn’t a regulated drug like morphine. Poppy plants are the source of opium, which is used to make both heroin and morphine.
As a strong opiate, heroin has an intense effect on the reward system in the brain. It increases the production of dopamine, a naturally created chemical by the brain. However, when heroin is introduced into the body by the addict, the brain stops naturally making its own. With a structure similar to endorphins, another chemical in the body, heroin also reduces the perception of pain. Heroin enters the brain rapidly and changes back into morphine. It binds to opioid receptors on cells located in many areas of the brain, especially those involved in feelings of pain and pleasure. Opioid receptors are also located in the brain stem, which controls important processes, such as blood pressure, arousal, and breathing.
The effect on dopamine production, however, is what makes heroin so addictive. The brain becomes accustomed to the high chemical levels and can’t function without heroin anymore. The association in the brain that heroin is a reward, along with the physical withdrawal, is why users find it difficult to quit without help.
How Heroin Affects the Body
When people use heroin, they describe its effect as an intense sense of well-being. The drug reaches the brain quickest when injected, which makes an addict experience a rush. This rush only lasts for about 2 minutes. The overall high lasts for about 4 or 5 hours as heroin travels through the body.
Heroin provides a brief escape from intense pain, depression, and anxiety. it creates a false sense of euphoria. On the surface, these effects seem rather harmless. However, heroin has many negative side effects. Some of them make using the drug dangerous. These side effects include: