Heroin is an illegal drug in the opioid class that is known for depressing the central nervous system and having devastating effects for its users. The opioid epidemic frequently makes the news as usage of opioids and overdose deaths rise. Heroin, which is typically injected intravenously and may be smoked or snorted, is highly addictive, but can you get addicted to heroin after only one use?
To fully answer this question, it’s important to understand how addiction works. Addiction is defined as engaging compulsively in the use of a substance, and it has a physical component and a psychological component that interact. The body may take time to become physically dependent on a substance, but a user could experience psychological cravings after the first time using heroin and hope to revisit the high.
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How long does it take to get addicted to heroin?
How long it takes to get addicted to heroin varies based on the amount used, the frequency of use and the individual. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) reports that nearly a fourth of those who use heroin become addicted. Studies on other opioids can also give insight into the length of time it takes to form a habit. Heroin is chemically similar to the drugs in the opioid class that are used as prescription painkillers. A study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that one in five patients given ten-day opioid prescriptions become long-term users. As the length of time a patient takes opioids increases, so does the patient’s risk of becoming addicted.
A report in the APSAD Drug and Alcohol Review based on a study of 72 heroin users called the concept of instant addiction into question. According to the study, users took over a year on average to become truly addicted to the drug. The exact moment when drug abuse becomes an addiction is not entirely clear.
What makes heroin so addictive?
Heroin is frequently cited as the most addictive drug, and extensive research backs the claim. Like many other addictive substances, heroin works by creating a dopamine response in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure. The trouble is that over time, the brain demands more of a substance to produce the same pleasurable effects, and the user finds it more difficult to function without the drug.
One reason heroin habits are so hard to break is that opioid drugs numb the body to pain. Withdrawals from opioids are difficult and can involve severe muscle aches, gastrointestinal problems and other flu-like symptoms. Addicts who are attempting to quit often end up using the drug again to alleviate these painful and uncomfortable effects. Heroin is also difficult for users to quit because many turn to the psychoactive effects of the drug to escape from emotional pain. If the source of their psychological problems is not addressed, addicts will continue to rely on the drug for relief.
How to avoid getting addicted to heroin
The best way to avoid getting addicted to heroin is to avoid trying it despite any curiosity about its effects. The risk is high, and while a single use does not make one an addict, every addiction starts out with that first use. When someone begins using the drug regularly, it may take time before a true addiction forms, but that person is on a dangerous path. If you are concerned that you are at risk of forming an addiction or are already addicted, consider talking to your doctor about rehabilitation treatment center Arizona.
Early intervention leads to better outcomes for patients. In 2017, the University of Connecticut Health Center’s Department of Community Medicine and Health Care published reports highlighting the importance of catching addiction early.
How do you know when you’re addicted to heroin?
Signs that you may be addicted to heroin include:
Using heroin to cope with negative feelings
Thinking frequently about using heroin
Performing poorly at work or school
Withdrawing from family and friends
Losing motivation for activities you once enjoyed
Acting deceptively and lying about drug use
Experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms
If you are asking yourself whether you are addicted to heroin, it is likely that you already have a problem worthy of intervention. Outside signs of heroin addiction that may be noticed by others include weight loss, constricted pupils and needle marks.
Because heroin is highly addictive, dependence can creep up on users and take over their lives in a short period of time. Using heroin even once could be the start of a persistent habit although the user might not become addicted immediately. Seeking professional addiction treatment in Arizona is the best course of action if you or a loved one has a dangerous relationship with heroin. Addiction treatment aims to help patients learn to cope with difficult circumstances without turning to drugs for an escape. Despite the dangers of heroin addiction, there is hope for overcoming it with the right help.