Addiction is a condition in which an individual is physically or psychologically compelled to regularly use a substance or perform a specific activity in order to experience a benefit or to avoid discomfort, to the point that using the substance or performing the activity becomes a top priority, often negatively affecting the person’s life quality, health and social functions. Addiction changes the brain’s reward system and the way it processes pleasure, making the addictive substance or behavior seem disproportionately rewarding compared to other activities. Individuals with addiction experience an overwhelming urge or compulsion to continue using the substance or engage in a particular behavior, often going to great lengths to do and satisfy the craving.

Over time, a person can develop tolerance, the need for more of the substance to achieve the same effect, and dependence, which can also be manifested by physical or psychological withdrawal symptoms when stopping, for example, the use of the substance. Addiction can significantly impair an individual’s ability to function in daily life, affecting relationships, employment and health. People with addiction may continue to use substances or engage in a behavior even when it causes harm to themselves or others. Effective treatment usually requires a combination of therapies, which may include medication, counseling, behavioral therapy, and support groups. Treatment plans are often tailored to an individual’s specific needs and specific circumstances. Relapse, or returning to substance use after an attempt to stop using substances, is common and is considered part of the process, reflecting the chronic nature of addiction. It requires ongoing treatment and support.

Understanding addiction as a medical condition has helped reduce stigma and improved approaches to treatment and support for sufferers.

Heroin addiction

Heroin addiction is a severe and often chronic condition characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences. It results from the use of heroin, an opioid drug derived from morphine, a natural substance obtained from the seed pods of various opium poppy plants.

How heroin affects people

Heroin is adsorbed quickly (comes to blood) with all administration ways. If intravenous injection, blood concentration peak is achieved during 1 minute at the latest, if inhalation or intramuscular injection – during 3-5 minutes. Heroin comes from blood in brain very quickly – during 15-30 seconds and accumulates there in high concentrations.

Brain absorbs about 70% of the entire heroin taken. Quick growth of heroin concentration in brain produces a feeling of so-called “wave”. Intensity of feelings depends on quantity of heroin taken and speed of its concentration growth in brain. Feelings of warmth, relaxation and euphoria appear after intake of heroin.

Passing effects of heroin:

Long administration of heroin results in:

In case of long use of heroin, human brain terminates production of own opiates – endorphins and enkephalins, which are necessary for normal operation of nervous system. At this stage, drug addict became dependent completely on a regular administration of narcotic otherwise abstinent syndrome (anxiety, depression, insuperable wish to take a drug, sneezing, lacrimation, pains in muscle, waist, stomach, diarrhoea, etc.) inevitably develops in some time.

Not sterile needles, syringes and heroin itself condition many dangers of drug administration. Drug addict himself/herself introduces millions microbes every time of injections. Favourable colonisation places of microbes are – cardiac valve flappers and lumbar vertebras. With time, destruction of cardiac valves may happen with development of heavy cardiac insufficiency. Treatment – prosthesis of cardiac valves – is expensive and dangerous operation. Distribution of hepatitis B, C and AIDS among drug addicts took epidemic character. All these diseases are invalidising (causes loss of capacity for work) and potentially fatal. Neuropsychic disorders in form of  memory weakening, working capacity impairment, depression, sleep disturbance inevitably appear in all opiate drug addicts, These disorders may remain during several months after termination of drugs.

Addictions are complex psychological and physiological processes in which an individual becomes dependent on substances such as drugs, alcohol or certain behaviors such as gambling, often with serious personal and social consequences. The phenomenon of addiction encompasses a variety of forms, including substance addictions and behavioral addictions, each with distinct but overlapping features. Let’s take a look at some of these features below.

Psychological aspects. Addictions significantly affect the brain’s reward systems. When a person consumes an addictive substance or engages in an addictive behavior, their brain releases neurotransmitters such as dopamine, which produce a feeling of pleasure or a “high.” This rewarding feeling reinforces the behavior, causing the person to repeat it. Over time, the brain begins to associate the addictive substance or behavior with pleasure or relief from discomfort, strengthening the compulsion.

Physical aspects. Substances such as alcohol, nicotine or opioids can develop physical dependence in the body. This means that the body adapts to the presence of the substance and begins to “demand” more of it in order for the body to function normally. Withdrawal symptoms – unpleasant physical reactions that occur when you reduce or stop using a substance – can range from body tremors and sweating to more severe effects such as seizures or hallucinations.

Behavioral aspects. Behavioral addictions include compulsive engagement in activities such as gambling, eating, viewing pornography, and other behaviors. Although they may not involve a physical intoxicant, the psychological process is similar: Engaging in an activity triggers pleasure pathways in the brain, reinforcing the effects of the particular behavior despite the potential negative consequences.

Social and emotional impact. Addictions can have a devastating effect on an individual’s social life and emotional well-being. Relationships can suffer due to erratic or destructive behavior, professional life can suffer due to lack of focus or absence, and financial problems are common, especially if money is spent on maintaining the addiction.

The cycle of addiction. The cycle of addiction often begins with experimentation or voluntary use, followed by an increase in consumption as tolerance develops. As an individual uses more, physical and psychological dependence increases, resulting in addiction being prioritized over other activities and responsibilities. If a person tries to quit, they may experience strong cravings and withdrawal symptoms, leading to relapse, where the cycle of addiction starts all over again.

Treatment and recovery. Effective treatment usually requires a comprehensive approach, including medical intervention, counseling, and support groups. Medications can be used to manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. Psychological therapy helps individuals understand and change their behavior patterns and cope with triggers. Support from family, friends, and recovery groups can provide the encouragement and accountability you need.

Understanding addiction as a disorder that involves brain changes and significant behavioral components is critical to effectively treating it and supporting people in their recovery.