There isn’t a single reason why a person might develop a heroin addiction, but there are a number of paths that have the potential to lead there. Understanding how this process begins and continues to this dangerous endpoint is an important part of figuring out how best to prevent these addictions from developing in the first place.

How Does a Heroin Addiction Develop?

It’s true that some people do carry more risk of developing substance use disorders than others based on family history, personality, and other factors. Of course, being more ‘at risk’ doesn’t necessarily mean that a person will develop an addiction, and people without any predisposition can certainly develop these same disorders. The sad fact is that addiction is possible for everyone, under varying circumstances, meaning that there are a dozen paths to this end.

One of these ‘roads,’ mentioned before, is “genetic vulnerability. The interactions between genetics and social environment may explain why some people become addicted and some do not.” So, if there are two people faced with the lure of alcohol and one of them has a family history of dependence, then that person will be more at risk of the pair in this situation.

What about heroin addiction? Another factor that leads to the development of substance abuse disorders is the influence of the community, or the opinion of people that the individual respects, trusts, or emulates. If others view a drug as safe, or at least as acceptable and ‘the norm,’ then that person is much more likely to give it a try. For many drugs, this is the result of the household or even neighborhood, and for something like alcohol, you can think of college campuses, where binge drinking often thrives.

“Financial incentives” are another way that people are lead to dangerous substances. A big piece of the opioid epidemic is that people can’t afford the already-harmful pills after a time, and so they turn to the much cheaper option of heroin. Because it is more financially available to them, many will seek this out as a substitute for their currently-developing addiction. When it comes to drinking, there’s a correlation between the rise in alcohol taxes and a decrease in the amount of alcohol that is purchased.

One of the largest factors that may lead a person to an addiction is the person themselves and their general nature. People can have an overall “addictive” personality, or one with little impulse control. They value highly the kinds of ‘rewards’ that are given immediately (instant gratification) while failing to see the merit of delayed ‘rewards.’ As a result, they are drawn to the highs that come with drug and alcohol use.

The individual who turns to substance use is almost always suffering in one way or another. “Individuals with deficits in emotion-regulation skills (i.e., skills relevant for modifying emotional reactions and tolerance for negative emotions) use drugs in an attempt to manage negative or distressing affective states.” Because they are struggling in other parts of their lives, it’s a welcome distraction to be able to turn to mood-altering substances, which is how these addictions  begin. It may be temporary, but this is how they gradually take more and more, and often suffer from an overdose.

Heroin addiction, and other issues of substance abuse, is the end result of a lot of different possible paths. People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol can come from a variety of backgrounds, but they are all in need of our aid and support. For recovery help from a professional source, contact The Bergand Group. We offer recovery programs for yourself or for others or are seeking education materials about addictions. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center and offers support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues, including direction for those who may be denying an addiction.  We can help you to work through your addiction in a safe and healthy environment where everyone is committed to your care.

About The Bergand Group:

At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehab and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.