Can I Become Physically Dependent on Heroin?
Heroin is a highly potent substance with an increased risk for addiction, especially with prolonged abuse. Addiction and dependence are different issues, but they often occur simultaneously. Addiction is a brain disease characterized by an uncontrollable compulsion to seek and consume drugs regardless of the consequences. An addict’s brain changes structurally and functionally to need heroin to work properly. Additionally, addiction causes behavioral changes that causes people to prioritize drug use over family, career and other responsibilities.
On the other hand, dependence to heroin is characterized by having a physical need for the substance to continue functioning. Furthermore, people who are dependent upon this drug will experience withdrawal symptoms if they go long enough without a dose. Many cancer patients who try to manage chronic pain are physically dependent on a particular substance, but these people have no relation to those who struggle with drug addiction. A physical dependence to heroin can develop through the following process:
- Heroin is consumed on a regular basis to relieve a particular problem (physical or emotional) or for recreational use
- The body becomes used to having a dose of heroin, so it begins adjusting its natural chemical production to make the drug a part of its normal functioning
- The body becomes tolerant to the substance, thus requiring higher doses to achieve desired effects
- If the dependent body goes without heroin, it will present withdrawal symptoms that eventually subside, or that can be immediately relieved with further heroin abuse
This process often leads to addiction, because people continue to abuse unhealthy amounts of the substance to avoid withdrawal symptoms. For people managing chronic pain, opioids can be effective even if they become physically dependent upon the drugs. The difference between addiction and dependence is characterized by one’s ability to control usage of the substance: dependent people can control their drug use, while addicts cannot. Physical dependence also differs from psychological dependence in that the latter is characterized by mental cravings for the drug, even if there is no physical need for it. Psychological cravings for heroin are similar to how people who quit smoking cigarettes still feel a obsessions to smoke, even though their bodies do not need cigarettes to function. Professional treatment for heroin abuse is essential, because physical dependence to this drug significantly increases the likelihood of addiction. Get help as soon as possible to quit using this powerful drug.
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If you or someone you know is struggling with heroin abuse and needs help, then please call our toll-free helpline now. Our admissions coordinators are standing by 24 hours a day to help you find a treatment program that will work for you. Experience a better life in recovery and call us today.