Heroin addiction is a disease that appears to favor those who have a neurotransmitter imbalance. Dopamine and serotonin are monoamine neurotransmitters which regulate mood, appetite, energy and sleep. In layman’s terms they are responsible for an overall sense of well-being and happiness. That’s a pretty big job. Now imagine you are low on them. It’s sort of like you are missing the keys to your own inner kingdom. You can live your life, but the reason for living – the sheer joy of it! – appears to be missing.
So you discover this drug. You do this drug. And you feel that flood of joy. Most of us enjoy some form of a narcotic here and there – be it a glass of wine, a cigarette, a joint. Suddenly you feel….. relaxed. And life shines a little brighter. But the addict is different. The addict realizes that this is what they are missing. It doesn’t make things shinier…. it just makes the previously dull things shine.
So the addict seeks the drug. Addiction makes sense at this point.
But soon the drug that seemed like a savior actually shuts down whatever limited production of neurotransmitters your brain originally made. The drug floods the addicts brain at higher levels and at a higher strength (2-4x that of the natural neurochemical). So the brain refuses to naturally produce it. (Why bake cookies when gourmet ones are being delivered to your door?) And here’s the kicker – heroin also compromises all those other “feel good pathways” that have been built into the human brain for specie survival – like the desire for food, sex and sheltering warmth. The addict’s genetic defect now creates very real biological, and neurological, damage.
The “drug of joy” will eventually leave you hungry, homeless and without the love of family and friends. Then, the drugs beloved effect will leave you. Addicts are always unsuccessfully chasing that original “high.” In the end they use just to keep the sickness at bay.
Doesn’t make so much sense anymore.