There are several substances that some people end up addicted to without ever intending to, and one of the most common such examples here is heroin. While not everyone who is addicted to heroin becomes so due to the exact same situation or even a similar one, there are many who go through a relatively common process as they become addicted to this drug: A process that begins with opioids.
At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we’re proud to offer high-quality drug rehabilitation and drug addiction treatment services for numerous patients, including those who struggle with heroin addiction. In many cases, overcoming heroin addiction involves fully understanding how the addiction arose and what helped cause it – and opioids are often part of this process. Here’s a rundown on why this often happens, the dangers of opioids even when they’re not being used for illicit purposes, and some of the impacts heroin can have on the brain and body.
Many Heroin Addiction Issues Begin With Opioid Prescriptions
While we don’t mean to lump every prescription opioid in with heroin addiction, the truth is that many people become addicted to heroin after first becoming used to and then dependent on opioid medications. Opioids can be incredibly powerful drugs when used correctly, but they also have a high potential for abuse – particularly when taken at higher doses than prescribed or when taken without a prescription in the first place.
In fact, around 80% of people addicted to heroin have already been addicted to an opioid medication prior to making the transition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These medications are not only powerful but also highly addictive – so it’s no surprise that many people eventually find themselves unable to resist the siren call of illicit drugs like heroin.
How This Often Happens
While each situation is different, many will often take a similar path. Someone will be injured or dealing with a medical issue and be prescribed an opioid medication. At first, this can lead to a sense of relief from pain – but over time, the patient will often increase the dosages out of sheer necessity due to the body’s adaptation and tolerance for opioids.
Eventually, though, they may start feeling as if they need more than what their prescriptions allow to achieve the same relief – and that’s often when they turn to street drugs like heroin as an option. It’s stronger than their prescribed medications, and it can also be much cheaper for those who don’t have insurance or are unable to afford their prescribed medications in the first place.
Unfortunately, this can lead to a vicious cycle of heroin use and addiction that’s difficult to break free of. That’s why it’s so important to seek out treatment for opioid abuse as soon as possible – before the cycle can even begin.
Rewiring Your Brain
As you can imagine, heroin addiction does more than just cause physical dependence on the drug. It also rewires the brain in ways that it’s very difficult to undo without professional help. Brain scans of those addicted to opioids have shown a decrease in gray matter – meaning a decrease in crucial neural connections that are important for making decisions and controlling impulses.
These neural connections are so important for self-control, but heroin addiction can have serious impacts on them. That’s why it’s necessary to seek out professional help for any kind of opioid addiction – including heroin addiction. With the right kind of treatment, you can start to rebuild those neural pathways and regain control over your life and your future.
Monitoring Prescription Use
For those who are prescribed opioid medications, it’s important to be aware of the dangers that come with taking them incorrectly or at higher dosages than recommended. Take only as needed and as instructed by your doctor – and if you feel like a stronger dose is necessary, speak to your doctor first before doing anything else. Doing this can help ensure that you remain in control of your own health and well-being, as opposed to letting drugs take over.
Heroin addiction is a serious issue – but with the right treatment and support, it’s possible to break free from its grasp and get back on track towards a healthy future. With commitment and dedication, you can start taking steps towards reclaiming your life and restoring balance to your physical and mental health.
For more about any of our caring drug or alcohol addiction recovery services, including how we assist those addicted to heroin or prescription opioids, speak to our staff at Moonlight Mountain Recovery today.