Heroin is considered among the most addictive, fastest-acting, and most commonly abused opioid drugs.
Addiction to any drug occurs as a memory response to positive feelings or dopamine release that happens when the substance is used.
The addiction response is different from dependence, which can cause physical or psychological reactions when the substance is absent from the body.
Heroin is highly addictive because of its fast-acting “rush” due to its highly efficient transport across the blood-brain barrier and metabolism into morphine.
Addictive Potential Of Heroin In Comparison To Other Opioids
In one study, heroin, morphine, and oxycodone were considered among the most addictive opioids.
Oxycodone’s strong, powerful high correlates with a powerful potential for addiction. Because heroin metabolizes into morphine, its effects are seen as highly similar in regards to addictive potential.
Fentanyl, while up to 100 times more potent than morphine, was found to have roughly similar measures of potential for addiction and abuse as heroin.
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Getting Help For Heroin Addiction
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- Mayo Clinic — How Opioid Addiction Occurs
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Opioid Addiction
- Neuropsychopharmacology — Relative Abuse Liability Of Prescription Opioids Compared To Heroin In Morphine-maintained Heroin Abusers
- U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA — Heroin Research Report
- U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Heroin DrugFacts