Heroin is amongst the most addictive of all the opiate drugs. Users frequently begin experimentally, and discover that it delivers a rapid burst of intense euphoria. Heroin addiction has roots in this experience of incomparable pleasure, as well as in neurochemical changes that rapidly occur in the brain following recurrent use. These create almost irresistible cravings for more, with the result that users frequently become reckless and engage in criminal behaviour in order to feed their habit.
One of the principal dangers of heroin addiction, especially for younger and more vulnerable users, is becoming dragooned into the dangerous world of heroin trafficking. Unable to pay for their ever-growing habit, addicts can easily fall prey to criminal drug traffickers, who pressure them to take part in selling street heroin as a means of financing their increasingly desperate cravings.
Despite the presence of severe penalties for heroin trafficking – in most Southeast Asian countries the death sentence is usually passed, while in the West lengthy prison terms are common – heroin addiction drives people into reckless, dangerous and criminal activities, overwhelming their judgment and driving their behaviour increasingly in the direction of obtaining more heroin.
Aside from the health-related dangers of heroin addiction, which include the increased risk of infection from blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis through the use of dirty needles, the personal and social consequences are often devastating. For addicts, no matter how capable and intelligent they may normally be, the search for the next “fix” frequently becomes the over-riding priority, no matter what the personal costs may be.