What are the Risks of Heroin Addiction

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By: Renaissance Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated: 7/1/2021

Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

When it comes to substance abuse, especially opioids, the health risks of heroin can affect a person both physically and psychologically. Heroin is a semi-synthetic opioid that’s highly addictive and those who use the drug often find themselves in a downward spiral after the addiction has taken hold.

Drug addiction is an epidemic in this nation and it’s important we examine the risks of these addictions to better understand ways to actively counter them. Capable of depressing entire communities, and creating a variety of medical and social consequences, heroin addiction is immensely damaging.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the many risks of taking heroin.

What are the Risks of Heroin?

For people who use heroin even once, there is a long list of potential physical and psychological problems and risks of heroin using heroin that can occur. One of the most dangerous issues that can occur is an overdose. Heroin overdose is a life-threatening situation that requires immediate emergency medical attention.

In 2019, there were over 70,000 drug overdoses in the United States. Over the first half of 2020, this figure increased by 13% as the pandemic created mayhem.

Heroin overdose is an obvious danger for anyone using the drug. This can be life-threatening.

If you notice slowed breathing in anyone using heroin, this is a common marker of overdose. Without intervention, this can be fatal.

While there are medications like naloxone that can be used to reverse an opioid overdose, overdoses are still a deadly and common thing among heroin users.

Along with heroin overdose, those who use the drug run the major risk of creating an addiction to the substance. Some people think that they can try the drug once and be done, but heroin changes the structure and physiology of the brain leading to major psychological dependence that can impede a person’s ability to live their life fully.

This dependence will begin after just one use of the drug when the brain is flooded with dopamine. The body will crave this once more. After using the drug consistently, the body will adjust to thinking that it is normal when heroin is in the system and abnormal when the drug is absent. 

Along with these two gigantic risks of heroin use, there is also a long list of heroin side effects that occur. Some of the common short- and long-term effects of heroin use include:

Why Are More People Using Heroin?

Heroin is a semi-synthetic opioid that’s derived from morphine, a naturally-occurring substance found in the seeds of opium poppies.

You find opium poppies throughout southern Asia.  These poppies also grow in Afghanistan, Colombia, and Mexico.

So why are more people using the drug?

The opioid epidemic that continues to pummel the United States is partially responsible for the uptick in heroin use. Some people prescribed opioid painkillers and unable to refill prescriptions turn to street heroin instead.

The consequences of the global pandemic are also believed to have led more people to use all types of drugs, heroin included.

Today, then, we’ll be looking at the most suitable forms of treatment for heroin use disorder, specifically medication-assisted treatment delivered in combination with psychotherapies.

While heroin addiction is potentially deadly, and quitting the drug is remarkably challenging, with the right help and support, you can leave the needle behind and reclaim the life heroin stole from you.

Let’s take a look at some of the risk factors that can lead to heroin use in the first place. 

Risk Factors of Heroin

When it comes to heroin addiction or addiction in general, anyone can be a victim. These problems don’t discriminate. That said, there are certain things that can put people at higher risk for trying the drug initially. 

One of the biggest risk factors for people is adverse childhood experiences or ACEs. ACEs are events and situations that people are exposed to while in childhood or adolescence that can have a major impact on their lives moving forward. Things like physical and sexual abuse, parental drug use, parental absence, and more can all put a person at an increased risk of substance abuse later in life. 

Another big one for heroin use specifically is prior prescription opioid use. The heroin resurgence is a part of the opioid epidemic because people who were prescribed opioids and either lost their prescription or needed something cheaper often looked to illicit drugs, most notably heroin to get their fix. This caused a major spike in heroin use and overdose over the past decade.

These are just a few of the risk factors that are associated with heroin addiction, but how do you overcome addiction when it sets in? 

Let’s take a look at heroin addiction treatment methods.

Heroin Addiction Treatment at Renaissance Recovery

If your use of heroin has spiraled out of control and you find yourself addicted to the drug, don’t panic. While this addiction might be tough to beat, we can help you every step of the way.

We use evidence-based treatment combining the best medication-assisted treatment for heroin use disorder with an assortment of tailored psychotherapy. You’ll detox safely and as comfortably as possible. With your system toxin-free, you’ll learn to identify the triggers that caused you to use heroin, and you’ll discover how to cope with these cravings without relapsing.

For help right away and proven, long-term heroin addiction treatment, contact the friendly team at Renaissance Recovery at 866.330.9449.866.330.9449

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country

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