Heroin and Your Brain: What You Need to Know

Heroin addiction occurs because of the intense drug dependence heroin incites in the brain and body. This dependence is what makes heroin and other opiates such strong candidates for drug abuse, while also increasing the difficulty of the detoxing process without professional help. If you are suffering from a heroin or opiate drug dependence in West Palm Beach, working with a professional substance abuse counselor during the opiate detox process is an important first step on the road to recovery.

Heroin and the Brain’s Receptors

Heroin and other opiates work by binding to very specific receptor sites in the brain. These sites are designed to receive and bind endorphins, which are hormones produced within the body to reduce pain sensations and improve mood, making you feel “good.” However, opiates—including heroin—are more potent than endorphins, triggering a more extreme effect in the brain , typically called a high. This high is often what causes individuals to continue using heroin; some people are able to feel high every time they use heroin, while others lose the ability to feel good entirely, and continue to use heroin only to prevent the unpleasant side effects that occur during opiate withdrawal.

Heroin and Dependence

Heroin is known for its high incidence of drug dependence, which occurs as a result of physical and chemical changes in the brain over time. When heroin is frequently introduced into the body, the brain has difficulty regulating hormones and other neurotransmitters normally, which leads to withdrawal and side effects that include anxiety, cravings, pain, nausea, and changes in respiration and heart rate. Although these symptoms typically last only one to two weeks in the absence of heroin, they can present a significant obstacle that blocks many individuals during addiction recovery. Opiate detox is the process of removing all traces of heroin from the body, which slowly allows the brain to return to its original state; this process is often accompanied by the use of drugs such as Suboxone, which mimic the effects of heroin without causing the same severe dependence.

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