Is heroin addiction a disease?
People have some very strong opinions about addiction, especially heroin addiction. Heroin addicts conjure images of drug-crazed souls, unable to live a normal life that does not involve cheating, stealing and lying, up until their eventual demise. Some believe that because these addicts had a choice at the start, they deserve little sympathy. Many addicts take far too long to seek treatment exactly because of these sentiments. But it shouldn't be forgotten that heroin addiction is a disease. It might be a self-inflicted one at the beginning, but this is an addiction that takes hold incredibly fast and spirals out of the control of the of the sufferer.
Heroin addiction is medically termed as a disease. This is because it is by its very nature, chronic and progressive. There is also the very real potential that it could ultimately be fatal. This addiction is made up of both physical and psychological factors, which means that while the first encounter may have been an act of choice, every other encounter thereafter is not. Heroin has the ability to change the chemical interactions within the brain. These changes stay with the user even when they are not physically on the drug. If the chemically addicted user then tries to ignore the cravings, it results in horribly painful withdrawal symptoms that can only be combated by continuation of the drug or specialist care. Therefore, heroin addiction is not solely about someone who does not have enough willpower to stop, but rather about someone who is suffering from an automatic response that is found in many other chronic conditions and diseases.
Heroin - the first step to recovery
Some people do not recover from heroin addiction and a small number manage their addiction whilst maintaining a normal life, but these are few and far between. The vast majority of heroin users will, at some point, look at how they can overcome their addiction. The first step is to admit that they have a problem. The stigma and shame that comes with heroin addiction, prevents many people from taking this step sooner.
If you or someone you know has an addiction to heroin, they should be reassured that they are far from unusual or alone. When they make contact with someone who can offer treatment, they will treated with respect and care. Quitting heroin is not easy but it is possible. To stand the best possible chance of making a full and permanent recovery, seeking medical guidance is critical. Make the most of trained counsellors and their expertise in the subject; they can offer a number of treatment options, depending on an individual's needs and lifestyle. Treatment can include detox, counselling, numerous therapies, inpatient support and long term outpatient support.
Recovering from heroin is a big step to take but with the right help you, like many who have gone before, can do it successfully.