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Are Heroin Addiction and Depression Related?

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Are Heroin Addiction and Depression Related?

The Link between Heroin Addiction and Depression: Could One Be Contributing To The Other?

Heroin addiction and depression are often co-existing either prior to the addiction developing, during active using, or in the early stages of recovery. There are several reasons why they often exist together and encourage one another but the most prevalent reason is that drugs such as heroin strongly impact the chemicals in the brain which are responsible for individuals mood or emotions. Heroin addicts and abusers also often develop their dependence as a result of using prescription drugs such as opiates, Xanax, or Ambien to numb their pain in an effort to try to self-medicate a mental disorder such as depression. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America about 20 percent of people who have a mood disorder like depression also struggle with addiction.

The average heroin abuser goes through higher levels of depression than the average person goes through and they run the risk of overdose and relapse due to the extreme nature of the drug. However, heroin use and addiction can also lead to depression due to the drastic changes in mood that occurs while taking the drug and while one is slowly coming down from a high. Depression is a serious disease on its own therefor when in conjunction with an addiction it can lead to life threatening situations. Heroin addiction and depression requires careful treatment and patients should be monitored during rehabilitation to ensure safety. Experts often quote that  individuals with drug or alcohol use disorders are 10% more likely to commit suicide however, when depression also exists with the addiction the percentage doubles.

Dangers of Heroin Addiction and Depression

Due to a lack of awareness about the common occurrence between heroin addiction and depression, many don’t realize they require more intensive treatment. Heroin addiction alone is difficult to overcome because it immensely changes how the body functions and after only a few uses the body can begin to crave it. With cravings and withdrawal symptoms, individuals are drawn back to using the drug again. With heroin addiction and depression, relapse and addiction are much more likely without intervention and proper treatment. For an individual who struggled with depression and began using heroin to relieve pain, overcoming the heroin addiction could be harder without simultaneously treating the depression because those symptoms related to depression will continue to drive the patient back to heroin. Heroin addiction can also bring on depression at every stage of the addiction and the recovery. Unfortunately, individuals who attempt recovery at home may find that they struggle to feel normal even when clean and the sadness or negative emotions could cause continuous relapse. As a result, they may then begin using heroin again and the cycle will continue.

In a treatment center, patients are carefully monitored and these moods could trigger a nurse to evaluate the possibility of a dual diagnosis. More over, at home where a person may develop a complex where they feel hopeless, not worthy of forgiveness, and give up on sobriety. Individuals suffering from depression and heroin addiction too often don’t receive the proper care and treatment.  When addiction and depression is treated through professional dual diagnosis treatment help, some addicts will return to normal brain function while other users may need to be treated separately for their depression. Typically, aftercare treatment is always recommended to allow patients time to build confidence in their recovery, gain sobriety skills, and get comfortable with new healthy lifestyle choices. Additionally, counseling and maintenance for depression is important because without that symptoms could come back

Why is Specialized Treatment Necessary for Heroin Addiction and Depression?

One of the biggest risks involved with heroin abuse and a severe depression co-occurring is suicide. Heroin causes the reward centers of a person’s brain to activate, making them feel euphoric, pain-free and loving. As use continues, the brain’s endorphin levels are affected and some endorphin receptors may even shut down. This creates an imbalance that can lead to depression or make a depression much worse. In the absence of a sense of pleasure, a heroin addict may become severely depressed leading to several problems. An addict may harm themselves due to anger issues and their depressed state of mind. The harm that the addiction does often carries through to the addict’s family causing them to hurt in many ways through the lying and criminal behavior that often accompanies heroin addiction. In many occasions where a teen or parent abuses the drug, family counseling can be necessary to repair the damage that the addict’s behavior caused.

Continued use of heroin is known to cause anxiety and psychosis in some individuals as a result of the imbalance in their brain function. These panic attacks can be because of withdrawal symptoms that occur after a physical addiction has formed. The withdrawal symptoms usually include severe cravings for the drug eventually causing a person to constantly think about acquiring more drugs. Eventually, many areas of the person’s life become disrupted and neglected leading to various problems with work, family and the person’s social life. All of these factors add to the depressed and distressed frame of mind the user experiences.

Other Common Co-Existing Disorders Related to Heroin Addiction:

  • Anxiety
  • Bi-polar Disorder
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Schizophrenia

Long-term damage can be caused by abusing the substance resulting in anxiety disorders that may not have occurred if the person was not abusing heroin; heroin increases the risk for physiological problems. Anxiety is one of the withdrawal symptoms that are associated with the abuse of the drug and an addiction can form quickly. This leads to constant anxiety issues when the drug is not being taken, serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia can accompany a heroin addiction. Anger issues are common among heroin addicts and their behavior can hurt all of the people around them due to the imbalance in their brain chemistry. Rehab centers can assist with heroin addiction and depression to allow an individual and family to move on with their lives and overcome an addiction.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment can provide the necessary rehabilitation tools for addicts to manage depression and successfully achieve abstinence. Family members are also asked to be involved in treatment in order to understand the circumstances that make recovery more difficult. If family members become involved they can help their loved one by providing support and recognizing indications of relapse.

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