What Makes Heroin Addictive?

In 1972 researchers at Johns Hopkins University discovered that neurons in the human brain have specific receptor sites for opiates such as heroin, according to a report on Frontline (PBS TV Show). The researchers determined that morphine, the primary ingredient in opiates, has a similar makeup to endorphins, which our bodies produce naturally to respond to pain and stress.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), our opioid receptors are located all throughout the brain, including the brainstem, which controls many processes critical for life, including arousal, breathing and blood pressure.
When morphine from heroin enters the brain, it acts as an impostor, mimicking the actions of endorphins, according to Frontline. However, heroin is more powerful than endorphins since it provides a feeling of euphoria that cannot be reproduced naturally. Those who try heroin often become addicted to the pleasurable rush with some becoming addicted after using it the first time.

PHYSICAL EFFECTS
Heroin can cause cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, a rise in temperature, irregular heart beat and other medical issues. Because heroin can shut down the central nervous system, people over dose and die from this drug.

RISK FACTORS
The likelihood of developing addiction is influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. People who are predisposed to opioid addiction often don’t know they are until it’s too late. However, some of the known risk factors include:

People with a close relative who suffered from an opioid addiction
People suffering from anxiety or depression
People with a personal or family history of alcohol or drug abuse

WARNING SIGNS
At first,those under the control of heroin may try to hide the problem. This can because of shame, embarrassment, or denial. Regardless, if you, or someone you know, experience the following signs, it may be an indication of heroin addiction:

  • Mood swings, depression, anger, and irritability
  • Marital or relationship problems
  • Social isolation, loss of friendships
  • Poor performance at school or work
  • Financial problems
  • Borrowing money
  • Selling personal or family possessions

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