Heroin Addiction Myths

Heroin Addiction Myths

Heroin is a common substance of abuse responsible for deaths globally. This article looks at common heroin addiction myths and treatment options.

Heroin Addiction Myths

Heroin is a common substance of abuse responsible for deaths globally. This article looks at common heroin addiction myths and treatment options.

Table of Contents

Overview

According to the WHO, opioid overdose accounts for up to 70% of all drug use-attributed fatalities worldwide. With statistics like this, it is easy to see how several myths and “facts” have been attributed to several illegal opioid drugs like heroin and fentanyl and prescription opioids like oxycodone and morphine.

Of all the opioid drugs that have been linked with abuse and dependence, heroin is the most implicated. Heroin, also known as smack, junk, and brown sugar, is a narcotic derived from morphine, obtained from the opium poppy. Of all the opioid drugs that have been linked with abuse and dependence, heroin is the most implicated. The widespread use and abuse of heroin are primarily because it is very addictive, even by opioid drug standards.

What is Heroin Addiction?

Heroin addiction refers to a condition where an individual cannot stop taking or “using” heroin, even in the face of mild to severe side effects directly from heroin use. There are many misconceptions and misunderstandings regarding what addiction is. Before looking at heroin addiction myths, you will need to know what addiction is and what it isn’t.

Addiction: What It Means

Addiction is a cognitive disorder or “illness” marked by continued drug use despite significant damage and adverse effect on health. This means that a person experiencing or addicted to a particular substance (such as heroin) will lack self-control regarding choosing whether to use heroin or not.

One term commonly used in conjunction with addiction is dependence; however, these two terms mean different things. Many people think of “dependence” when referring to addiction and vice versa. It’s important that you understand the distinction between drug dependency and addiction regarding substance use disorder.

How is Addiction Different From Dependence?

As earlier stated, addiction is a cognitive disorder in which a person cannot stop using a drug irrespective of the adverse health effects such continued usage might cause. In other words, addiction is a diagnosable medical condition.
Dependence, on the other hand, refers to adverse health effects felt and observed when a particular drug of abuse is “withdrawn,” or its concentration in the body reduced significantly. Dependence usually occurs due to prolonged drug use (i.e., due to addiction); however, as explained, it is not addiction.

Some Of The Most Common Myths About Heroin Addiction

Now that you are aware of what addiction is and how it is different from dependence, let’s look at some common heroin addiction myths. This is important because there are several heroin addiction myths, and a lot of these myths about heroin addiction stem from insufficient knowledge or understanding of heroin, how heroin addiction works, and the dangers of heroin abuse.

Myth: Heroin Addiction Happens Instantly

One of the most common heroin addiction myths is that heroin addiction occurs instantly with the first intake or use of heroin. However, although heroin is very addictive and heroin addiction tends to happen quickly, this is not true. Several factors determine how fast heroin addiction occurs. These factors include mental health status, genetic disposition, and frequency of use.

Myth: Heroin Is Less Dangerous When Smoked Or Snorted

Another common heroin addiction myth is the statement, “heroin is less dangerous when smoked.” You may have come across people trying to justify their habits of smoking heroin with this statement; however, it is also not true.
This is because there is always a chance that a heroin addict will experience dependence and heroin overdose. You could even make a case for heroin snorting or smoking being a slightly more dangerous option because it results in blockage of the airways, not to mention that a mixture of heroin with a CNS depressant like alcohol could result in near-instant death.

Myth: Addiction Is A Character Flaw That Only Affects Bad People

Last among the common heroin addiction myths debunked in this article is the opinion that addiction is a character flaw that only affects bad people. This is entirely untrue. Contrary to the belief of many people that only “bad” people get addicted to drugs or other substances, addiction can affect anyone.
Addiction occurs, and dependence follows when there is sufficient and prolonged brain exposure to drugs and other abused substances. This prolonged exposure eventually leads to a “reconfiguration” of the brain’s normal functioning creating a situation where it cannot function correctly without the drug.

Risk Factors Of Heroin Addiction

Another aspect of heroin addiction myths is heroin myths regarding the risk factors of heroin addiction.

Myth: There Are Many Highly Functioning “Recreational Users” Of Heroin

Several people think that frequent heroin consumption is not among heroin risk factors; “after all, there are a large number of highly functioning recreational users of heroin.” According to the National Drug and Alcohol Research Center, this is a false belief because there is no evidence to support this claim.

There has been research carried out to explore the veracity of this claim, and results have shown that recreational heroin users, if they exist at all, are an infrequent phenomenon.

Myth: Heroin Is A Young Person’s Drug

The opinion or belief that heroin is a teenager, or “young person” problem is one of the widely believed myths about heroin addiction. However, it isn’t true. Studies have shown that over 30% of heroin users are aged 40 and above. This statistic is steadily increasing, with heroin overdose deaths becoming increasingly common among people in their 50s and 60s. Heroin addiction cuts across all age groups.

Myth: Addiction Is a Choice

It is important to consider the family history of heroin addiction. Many people believe that addiction is a choice; after all, people who are currently struggling with addiction started taking addictive drugs of their own volition. While it is true in most cases that the decision to start using was entirely “discretionary,” the belief that heroin addiction is a choice is still one of the myths about heroin use.



Contrary to popular belief, drug addiction is not a choice. Drug addiction has a long-term effect on your brain, sometimes drastically, sometimes quietly, but nearly always in ways that lead to compulsive and even uncontrolled drug use.

Common Myths About Recovery From Heroin Addiction

Myths about heroin use recovery often involve people giving “excuses” to themselves and others about why they can’t kick heroin addiction or addiction to any other substance of abuse.

Myth: It’s Impossible to Quit Using Heroin

Many heroin addicts usually say things like, “it’s impossible to quit using heroin.” However, that’s not true. With the correct type of heroin addiction treatment and adequate support, quitting heroin is doable. There have been many people that have successfully quit using heroin.

Myth: You Can Do It On Your Own

Another heroin addiction myth is the belief that people currently struggling with addiction can get out of it themselves. For the most part, this is not correct. Addiction is a very serious “disease” that requires treatment, therapy, and constant supervision to get out. There’s also the fact that addiction withdrawal is accompanied by several withdrawal effects, ranging from mild to severe.

Even if a person had enough “willpower” to quit using (which is very rarely the case), they would still risk experiencing addiction withdrawal effects. When these effects are not correctly managed, death has been known to occur. If you’re currently struggling with addiction, you should get help and support from a treatment center. That’s the option that guarantees you a safe and complete recovery.

Myth: Treatment Should Work The First Time

The belief that drug addiction treatment should work the first time is a wrong one, and it can have a serious impact on recovery success, making it one of the most “dangerous” myths about heroin addiction recovery. The thing to note is that relapse is a “factor” in recovery from addiction, and as such, it may occur multiple times for several reasons. However, relapse does not imply failure, so a person can require numerous treatments to finally kick an addiction.



Another thing to note is that ultimately, addiction is a personal journey, so it differs from person to person. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to rehabilitation since everyone’s route to recovery is unique, just like their life experiences. As a result, therapy may not always work the first time for everyone.

Myth: Recovery From Heroin Addiction Is Rare

Recovery is not rare at all. There are several people who were previously diagnosed with heroin abuse disorder who, after treatment, have been able to maintain their sobriety and lead addiction-free lives.

Common Myths About Heroin Addiction Treatments

There are also several myths about heroin addiction treatments. These myths are generally divided into two categories. They include:

Medical Treatments

Myths about medical treatment of the signs of heroin abuse and its abuse are mostly centered around treatment efficacy and “validity.” They include the following:

Myth: Medication-Assisted Treatment Just Switches One Addiction For Another

Some people believe that heroin addiction treatment is a “sham,” saying that it just switches one addiction for another. This belief is understandable, seeing as some potential addiction-causing drugs like methadone and benzodiazepines are used to treat addiction.



Nevertheless, it must be said that this belief is false. This is because drugs used in medication-assisted treatment for heroin addiction have been proven to be very effective. They also help to reduce the possibilities of overdose effectively and significantly.

Myth: Methadone Will Make You Feel High

Methadone is an opioid drug commonly employed in treating and managing addiction. Due to its nature (as an opioid), some people believe methadone elicits feelings of being “high.” However, that is not true at all. Methadone does not have the euphoric effects commonly associated with opioids; instead, it is designed to inhibit those sensations, ergo its inclusion in medication-assisted therapy.8

Myth: It’s Difficult to Stop Using Methadone

Again, this myth assumes that methadone elicits euphoric or pleasurable effects, so it is highly addictive. However, methadone does not work that way. It instead blocks the pleasurable effects of other opioid drugs. Although methadone has the potential to be addictive and therefore abused, treatment using methadone is usually initiated and controlled by licensed individuals. This means your doctor will be able to wean you off methadone without complications when there is a need to avoid addiction problems.

Myths About Rehab

There are also several commonly believed myths about heroin addiction rehab. Some of these myths include:

Myth: Rehab Will Cure My Addiction

One of the most common myths about rehab is that rehab is a cure for addiction. This is not precisely the case. While proper rehab can help you get better, stay sober, and be addiction-free, there is no “cure” for addiction.

What most people refer to as an “addiction cure” involves the conscious implementation of rehabilitation and relapse prevention strategies to ensure addiction patients can live addiction-free lives.

Myth: Treatment Is Unaffordable

Some people also believe that addiction treatment is unaffordable, so unless you have a large stack of cash or money in the bank, you can’t get treatment. Although it is true that some treatment options for heroin addiction are quite expensive and so may not be “available” to everyone, there are also much more affordable yet effective solutions as.



There are several subsidized government programs to assist people in paying for treatment. Effective 12-step support organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are also free to join. Price is not a hindrance to quality treatment.

Myth: Relapse Means Treatment Has Failed

As stated earlier, when it comes to addiction treatment, there is no one-size-fits-all, and relapse does not mean failure. Recovery can get tough, and numerous situations could trigger a relapse. However, when relapse occurs, it doesn’t mean treatment has failed. You should always bear in mind that addiction is a disease, and like any other disease, treatment may not be successful the first time around. A person struggling with heroin addiction may need to be treated multiple times before finally achieving sobriety.

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Heroin Addiction Myths