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Heroin Addiction Causes

Heroin is at the center of a serious and deadly problem in the U.S—the opioid crisis. Without the presence of heroin—which is cheaper and more available on the streets than other opioids—the opioid crisis would not exist. Heroin statistics are bleak. The drug is one of the leading causes of overdose in the U.S. today.

Heroin addiction is not likely to go away on its own, it must be treated. To effectively treat heroin addiction, it is critical that the underlying causes are found and addressed. There is a lot that can go into heroin addiction. Social pressures, mental health issues, physical concerns, and biological and genetic differences can all play a role in someone developing an addiction to this drug.

Read this article to gain insight into heroin addiction, its causes, and how the drug impacts those who use it.

What is Heroin Addiction?

If you want to know the causes of heroin addiction, you first need to understand what exactly heroin addiction is. Someone can technically abuse heroin without being addicted.

When someone is addicted to heroin, they use and seek to use the drug compulsively. Addicts notice the negative effects of heroin, but continue to use it anyway. They will also develop an increased tolerance, which means they need more heroin to feel the same effects. Addiction will usually include a strong mental and biological dependence as well.

Heroin dependence occurs when a person experiences withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking heroin or significantly reduce their dose. All opioids, including heroin, have the potential to heroin detox induces very serious withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal can be a painful experience, and it often acts as a barrier between heroin addict and their sobriety.

When considering heroin addiction and the causes of heroin abuse, it is important to remember that everyone is affected differently. There are many different levels of addiction. People addicted to heroin can range from functioning addicts to completely manic and dysfunctional.

Effects of Heroin Addiction

When someone takes heroin, it enters the brain quickly. The effects of heroin on the brain include reduced feelings of pain and increased pleasure. The potential for a euphoric high is why heroin users take the drug.

It is important to note that since heroin is an opioid, many addicts who become addicted to other opioids switch to heroin or supplement with it. The psychological effects of heroin are similar to that of other opioids, and users switch these drugs out for one another often.

Heroin is very hard on the body and brain of those who use it. It is basically impossible to be addicted to the drug without suffering from major mental, physical, and social effects of heroin. In addicts who abuse the drug heavily and/or for a long time, long-term health effects are very likely.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common effects of heroin abuse on the brain and body:

Heroin users often feel these short-term effects when they use the drug:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heavy feeling in limbs
  • Dry mouth
  • Itching
  • Going in and out of consciousness (heroin blackout)
  • Clouded mental functioning (“heroin brain”)
  • Warm flushing of the skin

Heroin abuse is also likely to have many long-term effects

  • Insomnia
  • Collapsed veins (from injecting the drug)
  • Damaged nose tissue (if snorted)
  • Heart infection
  • Stomach pain and constipation
  • Kidney and liver disease
  • Lung issues such as pneumonia
  • Sexual impotence for men
  • Menstrual issues for women
  • Major mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder

Heroin can also cause an overdose. Someone overdosing on heroin may have heroin shakes and may stop breathing. Their lips may turn blue from lack of oxygen.

Causes of Heroin Addiction

Addiction is a mental health disorder. Everyone who becomes addicted to heroin has a different genetic makeup, different brain chemistry, and a different history. There are several factors that can contribute to someone becoming addicted to heroin.

Heroin addiction is not a choice. Using it in the first place maybe, but once addiction sets in, you are dealing with a disease. To have a successful heroin intervention and treatment, you must understand the underlying causes of the person’s problem.

Let’s go over some of the main known causes of heroin addiction:


Many people wonder ‘is drug addiction genetic?’. The answer, in short, is yes. But that does not mean that you are guaranteed, or even likely, to develop an addiction just because someone in your family has one. Instead, it just means that you may have a gene that makes you more likely to get addicted to certain things.

It is also hard for scientists to tell how big a role genetics play in addiction. This is because people who have parents or relatives who are addicts could be more likely to abuse drugs for a number of other reasons. These include more exposure to drugs, as well as childhood trauma that stems from having parents who are addicts.

Physical Pain

Heroin, like other opioids, is a powerful pain reliever. Opioids are used to treat severe pain, but they are not meant to be used for an extended amount of time, because they are addictive. People who suffer from pain commonly get addicted to opioids after having them prescribed. When their prescription runs out, they may turn to heroin as a cheaper and more available option on the street.

Heroin can be a very powerful pain reliever. But it is not a safe drug to use under any circumstances, which is why it is illegal. People who use heroin to try to treat their own pain are at very high risk for getting addicted.

Mental Illness

Like other substance use issues, heroin addiction is commonly associated with mental health conditions. Anxiety, depression, and mood disorders can all lead to and contribute to heroin abuse.

The cycle of drug abuse and mental illness is well-researched. People develop a psychological dependence on drugs like heroin because they make them feel better temporarily. If someone is unhappy normally, this is only going to be more enticing.

Heroin is a strong ‘downer’, meaning it has sedative effects. This could make it more appealing to people with severe anxiety.

Environmental Factors

Heroin addiction is strongly linked to past abuse and trauma. People who suffer from trauma as children are much more likely to become addicted to heroin. Trauma can cause intense psychological issues later in life, which can make drugs like heroin more appealing.

Having people in your life who have addictions at a young age can also be a risk factor. Learning as a child that drugs and alcohol are an appropriate way to cope with stress is a dangerous road to go down.

Finally, environmental factors in everyday life can make heroin addiction more likely. High levels of stress can contribute to drug abuse. This could come from family issues, financial troubles, or otherwise.

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Heroin abuse is a serious problem. This drug is notorious for causing fatal overdose in those who use it. Lately, there has been a rise in heroin that is laced with very dangerous drugs like fentanyl, leading to even more overdose deaths.

If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin abuse, you don’t want to wait another minute to address the issue. Fortunately, Bedrock Recovery Center is here for you. Our top-of-the-line care facility is renowned for its heroin treatment programs.

We use evidence-based treatments to treat heroin addiction and address its underlying causes. Without getting to the root of things, relapse is much more likely.

If you are ready to put heroin abuse in your past and move towards a brighter future, call Bedrock Recovery Center today and ask about our programs.

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