Despite the fact that heroin has existed for hundreds of years, it has only been in recent times that use of this drug has risen to epidemic proportions. Once restricted to inner cities and high-crime areas, the distribution of heroin to the suburbs and rural areas has led to a major shift in both demographics as well as the perception of drug users. There is no doubt about it; heroin addiction is one of the most difficult types of addictions to treat, but the real question is: why is heroin use so prevalent if the implicit dangers are so obvious?
The Science Of Heroin Addiction
Heroin is derived from the same plant people use to make both poppy seed muffins and life-saving medicines. This powerful opiate creates a strong feeling of relaxation, pleasure and lethargy in users, and can result in complete dependency with only one use. Since heroin impacts the human brain in a strong and immediate way, users seldom to stop and think about what is happening to them when in pursuit of the drug.
In the most simple terms, heroin sends a message to the brain that overtakes rational thinking. Users enjoy the sensations that result after ingestion, while their brains slowly become damaged over time. One of the main reasons that heroin addiction is hard to treat is it literally changes the way that addicts think.
How Heroin Usage Has Spread
There was once a time when it was easy to spot someone addicted to heroin. Over long term use, heroin can cause both the physical appearance as well as the cognitive thinking skills of an addict to deteriorate to become seriously compromised. Heroin addicts were almost always adult users living in poor communities located in inner cities, isolated from the public at large. Today, heroin users are not only getting younger in age, they are also coming from more diverse backgrounds.
In addition to the change in demographics, it has also become harder for the families of some addicts to come to grips with the facts that their loved ones are addicts. Some users are able to conceal their addictions for a number of years. Heroin addicts have been known to keep full-time jobs, raise families and even serve as leaders in their communities without detection. Since effective heroin addiction treatment requires disclosure, there are countless addicts who refuse or avoid treatment altogether.
Treatments For Heroin Addiction
Treatment methods for heroin addiction vary from patient to patient, but all addicts experience withdrawal. After going a period of time without heroin, users go through an often painful and debilitating withdrawal period that includes profuse sweating, severe nausea, anxious thoughts, cramps and inability to sleep. Medications such as methadone can be used to shorten withdrawal periods, but recovering addicts may also form a dependence on these substances.
Addiction to heroin is hard to treat because usage is not always easy to detect. Additionally, many users are resistant to professional drug treatment because they believe that sheer willpower will resolve their dependency issues. Only proper education, drug addiction awareness and access to heroin treatment facilities can help to reduce addiction rates.
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