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Why People Take Heroin

Essay by   •  December 15, 2010  •  1,512 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,304 Views

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There is an infinite amount of reasons why people may take heroin or any other drug for that matter. From personal observations I have noticed that even though the reasons vary by individual there is still a main pattern. I believe most people take heroin because they like the feeling of being drugged. When they are in this state they don't have to think about problems. In a way the drug is a diversion from their true feelings and an escape from their ordinary lives. Another reason people may fall into the heroin habit is to fit in or become part of a particular group. Often times the group doing the drug may seem cool or different. It is human nature to want to be accepted so people may feel peer pressure to try a drug like heroin not realizing how highly addictive and destructive the drug is. Finally the number one reason why I believe people take heroin is because they want to feel better about themselves. In a way this reason sums up all of the other reasons in one. If a person takes the drug to feel better about themselves, then they are seeking an escape, trying to feel more socially important and accepted, trying to overcome shyness, divert their attention away from their flaws or problems. I believe that this reason stems from low self-esteem, hopelessness, unhappiness and these are perhaps one of the main causes of addiction.

In its most narrow of definitions the term addiction is described as a compulsion to repeat a behavior regardless of its consequences. It is often characterized by cravings, increased tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms if the behavior is discontinued. Medically there are two types of addiction. The first type is psychological addiction this is mostly behavioral or a dependency of the mind for example nail biting is psychological. The second type is physical dependence and this includes the abuse of a substance in which you become physically dependent on meaning that you are likely to experience physical withdrawal symptoms. The prevailing problem amongst the medical community today is the narrow classification of addiction. There are certain behaviors such as gambling, shopping and pornography that in the traditional sense may be seen as psychological addiction but given its withdrawal symptoms can have physical implications so it may in fact be more than a dependence of the mind. Heroin use falls into the physical addiction category and it is considered one of the most rapidly addicting drugs today. When it comes to drug abuse addiction can be classified as a chronic, relapsing condition, characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, and by neurochemical and molecular changes in the brain. In the case of heroin its addictive qualities have to do with the reactions that it causes on the brain. Heroin changes the limbic system which controls emotions so that feelings of pleasure are increased and it blocks pain messages transmitted by the spinal cord from the body. These changes in the brain cause a person to become more highly addicted and therefore always seek the drug to recreate or block their feelings.

The most dangerous side effect of addiction is the build up of tolerance on the drug. When it comes to tolerance a person's reaction to the substance decreases over time causing them to require larger doses to achieve the same result. In the case of heroin regular use causes a person to need more heroin as time goes by in order to get their desired result. As time passes the doses of the drug get higher and higher until the addict reaches a point where he or she becomes physically dependent on the drug. Once a person becomes physically dependent it is harder for them to get off the drug because then the withdrawal symptoms are much stronger.

Heroin treatment regimens must take both factors of addiction and tolerance into account. Methadone Maintenance programs for example tackle the issue of tolerance. The main basis of this is that from tolerance stems addiction. This program caters to the physical side of addiction by providing patients with a drug from the same family as heroin which will satisfy their physical cravings for the drug but will not cause the high that heroin does nor interfere with everyday activities. Eventually the addict will eliminate the use of heroin but will essentially still be addicted to Methadone. On the other end of the treatment spectrum are therapeutic communities. Though they are not a treatment for addiction therapeutic communities are useful for the detoxification process. In this form of treatment patients are taken away from all potential ways of obtaining the drug by controlling the surrounding environment in an isolated community. This control also helps with the feelings and behaviors of the addict and may cut some of the behaviors that lead to the drug abuse in the first place.

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With a drug as powerful as heroin treatment must be aggressive and tackle the problems of addiction and tolerance. One form of treatment that has worked for many is the Methadone Maintenance program. This program works on the basis that a heroin addict cannot kick the habit cold turkey due to the high tolerance acquired from taking the drug. Instead, the addict must slowly be weaned off the drug. Methadone works because it is in the same drug family as heroin which is the opiates. It is taken orally and helps patients cope with the symptoms of heroin withdrawal by catering to the physical dependence without providing the euphoric rush or "high"

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