Heroin Addiction Health Risk Factors

Learn about heroin addiction health risk factors, symptoms, effects, and treatment methods in this informative article.
Heroin Addiction Health Risk Factors

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Table of Contents

What Is Heroin Addiction?

Heroin addiction (an opioid use disorder) is a chronic medical health condition characterized by compulsive heroin use or abuse even in the face of adverse health consequences. Heroin addiction occurs due to prolonged exposure of the brain to high levels of heroin. This eventually results in alterations in the structure and function change of the brain, which leads to heroin dependence and tolerance.

What Is Heroin?

Heroin is an opioid derived from morphine, obtained directly from the opium poppy plant, that can either be sniffed, smoked, or injected. It has major potential for abuse and is responsible for millions of addiction-related mental health conditions and deaths globally.

In 2020 alone, 13,165 heroin-related deaths were reported in America. This comes as no surprise seeing as it has very strong addiction-causing effects. In fact, of all substances of abuse with a tendency to cause dependency, opioids rank among the most frequently occurring and are associated with severe side effects. 1 

Risk Factors of Heroin Addiction

Heroin is a drug of abuse with a high addiction-causing profile, meaning that people easily get addicted to it. Nonetheless, some heroin addiction health risk factors can predispose people to heroin addiction, essentially making them more vulnerable to developing an addiction to heroin. These heroin addiction risk factors include:

History of Drug Use

History of drug use ranks among the most significant heroin addiction health risk factors. When people have a history of another drug addiction, it makes them vulnerable to heroin use. This is because heroin exhibits similar brain chemistry and activity to most other drugs of abuse. As a result, it will be relatively easy for a person with a history of drug use to slip into heroin addiction after a short period of use.

Opioid Prescriptions

Opioid prescription drugs, like morphine and oxycodone, are commonly prescribed for pain due to their strong analgesic and sedative effects. Unfortunately, due to these same effects and the ability to cause euphoria (in some), they are potential drugs of abuse.
Addiction can easily develop if treatment with opiates is not properly managed. For example, a study found that 86% of people abused prescription opioids prior to using heroin. 2 

Peer Pressure

This is the most common heroin addiction risk factor. The strong need to be accepted by friends makes people susceptible and willing to do what their friends do or ask them to do.