Can You Get Addicted to Heroin?

Heroin is a highly addictive drug which strongly affects the central nervous system. Frequent use of heroin will lead to addiction. People with addiction experience symptoms in a variety of ways.Find out how heroin affects the brain and long-term health.


A psychoactive depressant drug, heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occuring opium alkaloid extracted from different varieties of poppy plants. Heroin can be a white and brownish powder and is frequently ‘cut’ with sugars. Pure white heroin has a bitter taste and is typically snorted or smoked. Injection of heroin brings the highest potential risk for infections and blood-borne diseases.

The Brain

Once heroin reaches the brain, it becomes converted into morphine and binds to the molecules on the opioid receptors of the central nervous system. The receptors control automatic processes such as blood pressure, arousal and respiration while also being involved in pain perception. People who use heroin may feel a sense of euphoria followed by dry mouth, flushed skin, cloudy thinking and a heavy feeling in the extremities. Drowsiness may also occur. To maintain the feeling, people usually take another dose. Long term consequences arise from heroin use in the central nervous system. Tolerance builds to the point a person needs to increase the dose to achieve the same effect. The brain triggers dependence and, over time, the person will experience withdrawal symptoms when the dose is lowered or stopped.

Heroin Addiction

Habitual use on a frequent basis can turn into addiction. The first sign of addiction to heroin is cravings. Obsessively or compulsively thinking about heroin, use, and acquisition can point towards addiction. Loss of control is a sign of addiction or not being able to stop in spite of the will to do so. Individuals who become addicted to heroin may include some of the following stats:

  • Increased numbers of young people ages 18-25
  • General population use remains lower
  • Regular use almost always leads to dependence and then addiction

Avoiding Addiction

The safest way to avoid heroin addiction is to not use heroin at all. Once a person uses heroin, the likelihood of dependence or addiction starting goes up. Occasional use of heroin is a mistake as the drug has powerful, addictive properties which will take over a person’s life. Education is the most important way to respond to drug abuse. The negative consequences of heroin or other drug use are numerous and people who use it may also be dangerous to be around as those individuals may bring a person into using the drug who might not otherwise do so. Addiction can get better over time with the right tools, support and assistance from professionals but it is likely not going to happen by oneself. First admit a problem exists, then decide to seek treatment and work towards recovery one day at a time.


Recovery from addiction must start with the first step of admitting a problem exists, followed by action. If you are ready to take action and enter a new phase of your life in recovery, call The Villa. We will help guide you to the next best steps to take.