Insomnia and Heroin Abuse
How Insomnia Can Cause Heroin Abuse
Insomnia is often portrayed as the inability to sleep at all, but any significant sleeping difficulties can be considered insomnia. Having trouble falling asleep, having trouble staying asleep or waking up many times throughout the night can all have a negative impact on health and behavior. Individuals may develop depression or irritability due to an inability to think clearly and regulate emotions. White blood cell count is reduced, causing the immune system to be less effective and possibly leading to fatigue or illness. Subsequently, fatigue and depression can lead to heroin abuse as a way to relax or cope with stress.
Without proper rest, the human brain is less effective at regulating behavior and thinking processes. The temporal lobe of the cerebral cortex works less effectively, which can affect the ability to process language and make decisions. The prefrontal lobe of the cerebral cortex affects judgment, attention and impulse control, and a lack of sleep may affect an individual’s ability to make healthy decisions and focus on daily tasks. An individual suffering from insomnia may be more likely to make impulsive decisions without considering the consequences, which may lead to abusing heroin or other drugs.
Insomnia can be caused by anxiety or high amounts of stress. Severe stress due to life events or anxiety disorders can lead to high amounts of the stress hormone cortisol, which may disrupt sleep and lead to anxious thoughts and feelings. If left untreated, insomnia can cause more stress during already stressful periods of time, and individuals without a healthy way to cope may turn to heroin to reduce stress.
How Heroin Abuse Can Cause Insomnia
Individuals who become addicted to heroin may experience insomnia due to anxiety or stress. Worrying about the effects heroin abuse is having on family relationships or work performance can keep individuals up at night, and the physical effects of heroin withdrawal can increase sleep difficulties. Regular heroin abuse can lead to physical dependence, and individuals may need heroin to feel normal and avoid uncomfortable withdrawal effects.
Heroin can make it easier to sleep, but it can prevent the deeper stages of sleep. Heroin abuse causes changes to many of the brain chemicals that help regulate the various stages of sleep, including serotonin, dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Individuals that sleep for a full eight hours may still feel tired and fatigued, and they may not realize heroin is harming their sleep quality. Some individuals take heroin intentionally to help sleep without realizing the negative effects it is having.
The Negative Effects of Heroin Abuse and Insomnia
Insomnia can have serious effects on health if left untreated. Individuals may be more likely to become ill or may experience sudden weight loss or weight gain. Cognitive problems and an inability to focus may make work and relationships more difficult.
Regular heroin use can lead to physical dependence and addiction, making quitting difficult. Individuals suffering from insomnia may misjudge a heroin dose or may be more affected by the drug due to a weakened immune system and fatigue. This can lead to accidental overdose, which may be fatal if breathing stops.
Find Treatment for Heroin Abuse and Insomnia
If you are suffering from sleep deprivation and heroin abuse, treatment can help. Our counselors can answer your questions about heroin addiction and help you find treatment for insomnia and heroin abuse. Call our toll-free, 24-hour helpline to learn more about heroin addiction treatment.