Depression, by its very nature, can set up a volatile situation and mindset from which substance abuse can arise from. However, depression can also stem from the abuse of a number of different substances. None of these more so than heroin, which, by its very nature, actively works to disrupt the way that your brain experiences emotions like happiness. Because of this, there is a sordid link between heroin and depression that cannot go ignored…
Heroin’s effect on pleasure
Heroin works in a similar way to other opiate drugs. By activating the dopamine receptors in your brain, heroin is able to cut off any feeling of pain, and cause your brain to go into overdrive as it produces more dopamine. This creates a strong feeling of pleasure that can be hard to recreate, but it comes at a cost. Continuous use of heroin makes it difficult for your body to produce dopamine, naturally, meaning that most sensations of pleasure can only be created when on heroin.
Out of this chemical imbalance, it is easy to see how one would begin to suffer from depression, uncontrollably, with no way to combat it, save for continuous usage. It’s in this way that heroin abuse and depression have a dangerous codependency.
Heroin withdrawals and depression
For heroin users, depression can be at its most intense when suffering from withdrawals. This is because their brain’s are incapable of producing their own dopamine, for a time. This is part of why heroin is so addictive, and why suicide is so common among heroin users. As a matter of fact, the physical effects of heroin withdrawals aren’t actually fatal, in nearly all cases. However, when you pair those physical effects with a crippling depression that occurs when a heroin addict goes too long without a fix, it becomes easy to see why potentially 35% of heroin deaths are due to suicide.
Treating depression is crucial to treating addiction
In order to treat heroin addiction, you cannot separate the strong link that exists between heroin and depression. One of the hardest aspects of heroin recovery is learning to find peace and happiness, and dealing with the psychological effects that heroin has had. Outcomes of heroin treatment drastically increase when the treatment utilizes mental health approaches to combat depression, so that the hold that heroin has on the addict weakens.