Many drugs, such as cannabis, alcohol, and coke are taken by people who want to feel good and have a fun time. The social aspect of these drugs is a very prevalent reason for their use. These drugs are used for self-medication in addition to recreational purposes. However, for heroin, the recreational and social aspect is not nearly as true as it is for many other drugs.
Pain is an inevitability of life. We all feel it at some point or another, and a key feature that distinguishes one person from another is how they respond to it. For some of us, though, life becomes unbearably painful. One of the main reasons people abuse heroin is because it produces sensations of warmth and safety, even if that couldn’t be further from the truth of our actual situation. Heroin makes that great pain that so many of us feel go away, at least for now. In this way, what begins as a desperate measure for self-medication opens the way towards deeper addictions and greater pain.
Some drugs are primarily used recreationally, such as to create energy and heighten moods in ways that make going about daily life seem easier or socializing at parties more fun. The immediate effects of heroin are euphoric in a way that washes away existing pain. As a result, it is common for users to self-medicate with heroin to treat their own pain, anxiety, or depression.
Heroin users report feelings of safety and warmth after taking a hit. This effect could help explain the perpetuation of homelessness, as taking heroin makes sleeping on the cold ground and in uncomfortable situations bearable. At lower doses, it can be relaxing and stress relieving, while it can create disconnection and dream-like states at higher doses. For some, this disconnection can be experienced as an escape from reality which is especially relieving for those plagued with anxiety or depression. In the same way, the pain-relieving effects of heroin and other opiates work to reduce the perception of both physical and emotional pain. For some people, the effects of heroin aren’t pleasant. It can cause anxiety and even panic attacks, and physical symptoms like vomiting, constipation, and suppressed breathing.
The risk of overdosing on heroin is significantly high. Considering heroin is sold illegally, there is no telling what fillers could be added or how much heroin is present in a given dose. In recent years, heroin has increasingly been cut with fentanyl, a far more powerful opiate, which has come along with an increase in rates of overdose.
Even with experience and a consistently clean product, overdosing remains a huge risk. Tolerance is quickly built up within the body, leading the user to experiment with larger and larger doses. Tolerance is partly dependent upon the environment, as just entering the same place a user regularly shoots heroin in begins to prepare the body and mind for the experience. When heroin is taken in a new place outside of the norm, risk of overdose increases.
At the end of the day, people do not end up addicted to heroin because they felt happy, loved, supported, and full of opportunity. To be a heroin addict is to be looked down on, cast aside, and ignored by the public. Homelessness and addiction are often co-occurring, and without compassion and practical support, there isn’t always a way out. Too many people across the nation suffer from addiction and unfortunately, the stigma surrounding their experience further ostracizes them from the rest of their community. As heroin addiction has a high rate of comorbidity with other mental health disorders, these individuals first and foremost need therapy before they need to be left on the streets or thrown in jail.
Heroin addiction is marked by the pain and suffering that comes along with it. People use it for extremely pleasurable highs and to escape unpleasant conditions such as anxiety, depression, or homelessness. Even for experienced users, the risk of overdose is high. If you are struggling with heroin addiction, you deserve help. Safe Harbor offers extensive programs including detoxification, drug rehabilitation, and therapy. We believe in a holistic approach to healing that addresses the whole person and their body, mind, and spirit. Nobody deserves to suffer alone. We understand how challenging it is to begin the process of letting go of our addictions. At our treatment centers, individuals are recognized for their courage and unique gifts as a human being. It is our mission to heal not only the immediate addiction but the co-occurring mental health conditions that all contribute to our suffering. Located in Orange County, our primary goal is to have compassion in our mission for healing. Call (833) 580-1473 for more information.