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The Stages of Heroin Addiction

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The-Stages-of-Heroin-Addiction

Once confined mostly to large cities, heroin is just as likely to be found today in rural areas and in towns of all sizes. 

You can inject, snort, or smoke this drug. In areas where the purity of heroin is greater, smoking seems to be the preferred method of many.   Some think that smoking the drug is less dangerous (because a needle is not involved); nothing could be further from the truth.   Visits to Emergency Rooms (and deaths) around the country have increased amongst those who smoke or snort the drug.

Unlike some other drugs, the path to heroin addiction is often immediate. It is somewhat like a car going from 0 to 60 mph in five seconds; except at the end of the heroin ride, you end up nowhere or something akin to hitting a brick wall going 120 mph.  

The drug is particularly addictive because it enters the brain very quickly and provides an instant “rush”. Because many people who experiment with the drug are “hooked” after the first episode, it is not easy to define distinct stages of heroin addictionAddiction to any drug begins with experimentation and, in that sense, heroin is no different.  Users describe their first experiences with heroin as a feeling of indescribable euphoria. After the initial euphoria, the user often drifts between wakefulness and drowsiness. Mental functioning, at this point, is pretty much non-existent. 

The central nervous system is immediately affected and respiration is slowed. Some people’s respiration rate slows so drastically they die the very first time they use heroin. When truly experimenting and while use is very infrequent most users continue to live a fairly normal life.

How People Become Addicted To Heroin

How people become addicted to heroin

Addiction to the drug happens rapidly; partly because the body adapts so quickly to the drug.  Once that occurs, the user must “up” the dosage to achieve any type of rush.   Many people overdose and die as a result of continuing to “up” their usage in an effort to get back to that initial “high”.   It never happens; you can try 10,000 times and you will never get the feeling you got the first time – ask any drug addict. Tainted heroin — the drug is “cut” with harmful substances so the dealer makes more profit is not uncommon. The addict cannot tell by looking at the substance that ingestion can be fatal because strychnine (or other lethal chemicals) has been added.

Withdrawal Symptoms Of Heroin Addiction

Heroin Addiction Withdrawal symptoms are experienced within a few hours of the last dose of heroin.  Symptoms include intense craving, restlessness, muscle, and joint pain along with severe cramps, sweating, and vomiting.   These symptoms seem to peak anywhere from 48 – 72 hours after the last “hit” and can last up to 7 days. Because withdrawal is so difficult, heroin users eventually find themselves using the drug not to get high, but to keep from getting “sick”.

Early-mid Stage Of Heroin Addiction

Early-Mid stage addiction may include overwhelming feelings of paranoia that have an immediate impact on the addict’s life.  Many users experience such overwhelming paranoia they lose trust in their closest family and friends.  This results in broken relationships, loss of jobs, and other consequences.   As the obsession increases, the only focus of the addict is to get more heroin.  The addict will resort to stealing, dealing drugs, or anything to “score”. Keep in mind, at this point, the addict’s life is in ruins, they experience no pleasure from using the drug.  They must continue to use heroin solely to avoid feeling deathly ill.

Final Stages Of Heroin Addiction

Final Stages Of Heroin Addiction

The final stages of heroin addiction may include repeated attempts to stop; most often users are unable (without help) to end the vicious cycle.  Withdrawal’s psychological and physical effects send many addicts in search of more heroin. Many addicts, in these final stages, may have already experienced “overdose” … they have stopped breathing and were lucky enough to be resuscitated.  Even the brush with death is often not powerful enough to break the addiction for some.  For far too many heroin addicts the final stage is death.

Find A Way To Recovery

A recovery is most definitely a viable option for heroin addicts.  Though it’s a difficult drug to kick (they all are), it can be done with the proper guidance and treatment. There are many sources of help available if you are ready to take the first steps back to life.

Last Update : October 23, 2020

  • https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-treatments-heroin-use-disorder
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22329304
  • https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/heroin-and-mental-health

FAQ's

Can you leave the rehabilitation center?

You can leave the rehab any time, no one will compel you to stay at the rehab. However, dedication and continued treatment are required to fight addiction and achieve a sober life.

What are the Stages of Addiction?

There are various stages of addictions. The initial stage is the functioning individual with the addiction. The most common scenario is they have a job and their relationships are intact, but their health is depleting slowly because of their dependence.

What are narcotics and why people get it?

Narcotic analgesics (painkillers) are drugs that can reduce pain, cause numbness and/ or induce a state of unconsciousness. They have the tendency to cause tolerance and addiction

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