Why Treatment is Necessary for Heroin Addiction

Anyone suffering from a heroin addiction would like nothing more than to stop. Every year it causes untold damages and destroys countless lives. However, it is not always as simple as it may seem. In fact, quitting heroin on your own can be nearly impossible, dangerous, or even deadly. This makes it extremely important to know why treatment is necessary for heroin addiction.

Understanding Addiction

In order to understand why treatment is necessary for a heroin addiction, you first need to know what an addiction is. Many people believe that addictions are moral failings and that people suffering from them can “just quit”. However, reality is not that simple. Addiction, in general, is a chronic disease of the mind.

It is defined as the inability to control compulsive substance use or other behaviors despite negative consequences. In order to beat a heroin addiction, there are several things to overcome, but it is possible. This is especially true if treatment is used to help.

What Makes Heroin Addiction Different

Once you understand what an addiction truly is, you need to understand how a heroin addiction can be even more serious than others. Heroin, a drug derived from the opium poppy, is one of the most addictive substances known. Heroin’s addictive powers are so strong that it is possible to become addicted after only one use.

Heroin bonds to specific pathways in the brain known as opiate receptors. These pathways help the brain control certain primary functions, as well as regulating pain and the sense of reward. When heroin enters, brain chemistry becomes unbalanced, causing powerful feelings of euphoria and relaxation. This is the “high” that heroin addicts seek.

Risks of Withdrawal and Relapse

Once you understand how powerful a heroin addiction is, it is time to explore the risks involved in quitting without treatment. Something that all heroin addicts should expect to experience when trying to quit is withdrawal. Symptoms include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Prolonged insomnia
  • Depression and anxiety that may lead to suicide
  • Severe muscle and joint aches
  • Sweats, shivering, and minor convulsions
  • Intense cravings for the drug

These symptoms are similar to the flu, but are felt to be much more severe than any illness you have ever had. Not only this, but without medical supervision, heroin withdrawal can be damaging to your health or even lead to fatal complications.

Another serious problem is relapse. People that stop using heroin without treatment are far more likely to start using again. When you add to this the fact that relapse in heroin use causes more overdose deaths than are otherwise experienced, the real danger of relapse is exposed.

How Treatment Helps

Professional treatment centers understand all of the dangers and obstacles facing someone trying to overcome a heroin addiction. They can provide medications to alleviate withdrawal and reduce relapse risk. They also address the behaviors and thoughts that lead to addiction so that patients can make the changes necessary to recover. This illustrates exactly why treatment is necessary for overcoming a heroin addiction.