Is Heroin Really Addictive On The First Use?

Heroin is one of the scariest and most potent drugs in the world and its impact is growing. According to statistics, over nine million people around the world regularly use heroin, with an estimated 150,000 to 900,000 people in America using. Sadly, many of these people claim that they were addicted to heroin after one use. Is this controversial claim true? The answer is fairly complex.

Physical Addiction Isn’t Likely Immediately

Heroin is so potent because it acts on your brain on a biological level. Many drugs, such as marijuana, don’t have such an intricate interaction with your brain. Basically, heroin artificially stimulates the pleasure centers in the brain, known as “opioid receptors.”

These areas of the brain are primarily responsible for controlling levels of pain, pleasure, blood pressure, arousal, and even respiration. Normally, they are stimulated by the natural release of dopamine and other pleasure chemicals in your mind. However, the euphoria caused by heroin is more potent than that caused by dopamine.

As a result, your brain can quickly become very dependent on the “rush” or “high” that is caused by heroin. That said, addiction is rarely, if ever, physically existent the first time you use. It takes sustained and consistent use over a period of time for a true addiction to occur. For example, lifelong heroin user and writer William S. Burroughs claimed it took him several months to develop his first physical addiction.

Psychological Addiction Could Come Quickly

Burroughs made his claim in his seminal book “Junky,” which explored the nature of addiction and the ways it changed his life. Though he claims that physical addiction took time to set in, he also describes the way he becomes psychologically dependent very quickly. After his first use, he started using more frequent and larger doses until he was physically hooked.

Why was heroin so potent psychologically with him and other people who have become addicted? The intensity of the euphoria is so high that it eliminates a person’s worries, fears, and personal problems. Burroughs wrote about spending days staring at the wall without a care in the world. That kind of mental “blankness” is often very tempting for many people.

This is, perhaps, the kind of addiction many users have described after using for the first time. Their body wasn’t necessarily hooked so much as they were attracted to the effects immediately. As a result, they felt compelled to continue using until they developed real and physical addiction.

Stopping Before It’s A Problem

If you are using heroin and are worried about developing an addiction, you should stop immediately and wait to see if withdrawal symptoms develop. These symptoms can be painful and include:

  • Depression
  • Cold sweats
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

If these symptoms occur, rush to a hospital as soon as possible and receive replacement medicines. Don’t go back to using heroin because replacement medicines take the edge off of withdrawal in a healthier and controlled manner.

However, if no withdrawal symptoms develop, you are lucky, as a physical dependency didn’t develop. However, your mind might start turning to heroin when you feel down or bored. Keep it distracted by finding something healthy to do, such as:

  • Jogging
  • Hiking
  • Yoga
  • Visiting a friend
  • Going on a trip
  • Stopping at a museum
  • Painting, writing, or dancing

Just don’t turn back to using heroin. You’ve quit before physical addiction started and you can avoid all the problems associated with withdrawal. It’s a unique opportunity that not everyone gets a chance to experience.

Hope for a life free of heroin isn’t far away as long as you know how to quit early and avoid the dangers of physical addiction. To learn more about quitting heroin, including the benefits of rehab, please contact us today.

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