Depression & Heroin Abuse: A Dangerous Combination

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Today’s prescription pain pills have opened up a doorway to the perils of heroin for people who wouldn’t otherwise encounter the drug. Anyone who suffers an injury and receives a pain pill prescription has been exposed to the powerful effects of opiate drugs. For those who fall into a pattern of prescription pain pill abuse, it won’t be long before the weakening effects of pills demand a stronger substitute, namely heroin.

By the time a person transitions to heroin, bouts of depression have likely taken shape along the way. According to Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, an estimated 48 percent of people addicted to opiates have a history of depression symptoms. For some people, a pre-existing depression disorder drives the opiate abuse cycle from the start. For others, depression becomes an unwelcome side effect that develops over the course of drug use.

In effect, heroin abuse and depression form a deadly duo that can quickly spiral out of control. Without needed treatment help, this cycle continues on indefinitely, all but obliterating any sense of self or life purpose.

Withdrawal Effects

Depression & Heroin Abuse

Heroin abuse can eventually lead to anhedonia, eliminating one’s ability to experience pleasure or contentment.

The potential for heroin abuse stems from the brain’s rapidly increasing tolerance for the drug, driving a person to engage in drug use more often and in larger amounts. Once this cycle takes hold, withdrawal episodes start to develop out of the damage done to the brain’s chemical processes.

Symptoms of depression prevail during withdrawal and grow more severe each time the body goes into withdrawal. While the “high” effects of heroin bring on feelings of euphoria and calm, withdrawal episodes produce the opposite effect, with users experiencing:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiousness
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability

Not surprisingly, the urge to use again becomes overwhelming, especially for people already struggling with a depression disorder. As the brain undergoes continued damage from heroin use, the body becomes even more so entrenched within the heroin abuse cycle.

Quality of Life Effects

Depression, in and of itself, limits a person’s functional capacity making it difficult to manage the affairs of daily life. Whether this depression is pre-existing or brought on by heroin abuse, the combined effects of depression and heroin can be debilitating.

Over time, heroin’s effects on the brain deplete essential neurotransmitter supplies, leaving the brain unable to function normally without the drug’s effects. Before long, a condition known as anhedonia sets in where a person can no longer experience any sense of joy or contentment, with or without the drug’s effects. In effect, anhedonia combined with worsening withdrawal episodes create the perfect storm, diminishing a person’s quality of life with each passing day.

5 Secrets to Overcome Heroin Addiction and Improve Your Life

A Downward Spiral

As one of the most addictive drugs in existence, chronic heroin abuse comes with a high suicide risk, simply because of the degree of damage done to the brain’s chemical system. According to Addiction, suicide fatalities among heroin users run as high as 35 percent. Couple this tendency with a depression disorder and the risk of suicide increases exponentially.

Considering how quickly heroin abuse can spiral out of control, it’s important to seek out needed treatment help at the first sign of depression when heroin abuse is a factor. If you or someone you know struggles with a heroin abuse problem, please don’t hesitate to call our toll-free helpline at 800-584-3274 to speak with one of our addictions counselors.


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