The Psychology of Heroin Addiction

The Psychology of Heroin Addiction

Posted By Schick Shadel || Dec 14, 2015

Addiction of any drug or alcohol is extremely dangerous to the user. When a person is addicted to heroin, they are at a severe risk of short and long-term effects that begin once the heroin is consumed and reaches the brain. This drug takes a serious toll on the brains physical structure and physiological state. At Schick Shadel, we have seen the many effects of heroin addiction and we want to make sure our patients understand what happens to the brain, how heroin affects them, and what options they may have.

Short-Term Effects

As soon as the heroin reaches the brain, it rapidly binds to the opioid receptors and is converted to morphine. This provides the user with a rush feeling; a sensation felt throughout the body. The level of which this rush is felt depends on how much of the drug was taken and how quickly it is able to reach the brain. The skin usually becomes flush with warmth and the extremities of the body tend to become heavy. It can also cause dry mouth, vomiting, nausea, and itchiness. The user may also become drowsy for hours after the initial effects are felt. Aside from slow breathing and heart function, the brain is often effected causing clouded mental functions. The slow breathing can cause permanent brain damage or coma.

Long-Term Effects

As an individual uses more and more heroin on a frequent basis, they are changing the way their brain operates, as well as its physical structure. Repeated heroin use can cause imbalances in the hormonal and neuronal systems in the brain. This is not something that is easily reversed. Some studies show that the brain’s white matter can deteriorate due to repeated heroin use. This has a potential impact on the ability for the individual to regulate behavior, respond to stress, and make decisions. The drug can also cause the user to become physically dependent and build a tolerance. This means that the user needs more of the drug to feel the effects and if they don’t use for some time, they go through withdrawal.

Withdrawal Effects

Because individuals who use heroin on a repeated basis often become dependent on the drug, when they stop using for a period of time, they often go through withdrawals. This results in serious symptoms including nausea, vomiting, insomnia, pain in the bones and muscles, cold flashes, and diarrhea.

Addiction Effects

Heroin is a very addicting drug. It doesn’t matter how the drug is administered, the chance for addiction is high. The addiction often comes because of the sensation that it brings. It also causes the user to feel no pain or discomfort. The part of the brain that memorizes feelings of pleasure are working and it records this feeling, thus making addiction very possible.


If you or someone you love is addicted to heroin, it is important to recognize the impact the drug can have on your brain in the short and long-term. Serious health issues arise and even potential fatal consequences. At Schick Shadel, we offer counter conditioning as one of our heroin and drug addiction treatments. We take great care of every patient who comes into our facility because we believe that a new lease on life is possible.

Call us today and see if we may be able to help you.

Categories: Heroin Addiction

The Benefits of Schick Shadel:

  • Fast 10-Day Inpatient Program

  • Over 65,000 Patients Treated

  • Not a 12-Step Based Program

  • Medical Hospital with MDs and RNs

  • Addiction is Treated as a Medical Condition

  • Most Insurance Accepted

New fMRI Study by the University of Washington Shows Significantly Less Craving In the Brain Learn More