what causes heroin use

Why Do People Do Heroin? (8 Things You Should Know)

Nearly one million people reported using heroin in 2016, in the U.S. That number only rose in the two years since.

This sharp rise in drug use is called the opioid epidemic. It claimed 15,500 lives in 2016 and lawmakers recently began making efforts to control it. Yet, it’ll take time for changes to take effect.

Most new laws target pharmaceutical companies. In the 1990s, they convinced medical professionals to over-prescribe their pain medication.

After that, overdose deaths began to rise and so did substance abuse rates.

It can be hard not to ask, “why do people do heroin in the first place?” Surely, with so much risk around it, people wouldn’t want to pick up a needle.

There are many reasons why people do drugs. Keep reading to learn a few.

1. Curiosity and Exploration

There is a lot of media coverage on opioids and drugs in general. It is only natural to want to be curious about them. However, it is different to take the next step and actually try them.

People disregard the dangers associated with hard drug use. The highs they provide seem more valuable than the harm they could cause.

People may also be looking to get in touch with themselves. Drugs provide an altered state of mind. That means people wanting to explore their personality may use drugs to get more insight into their identities.

There are healthier ways to do both those things, however. Simply reading up on drug use provides a clear picture of what it is like. A simple conversation with friends can reveal a lot about one’s own identity as well.

2. To Feel Better About Themselves

Drugs, in general, attract people who feel dissatisfied with their lives. Without something or someone to work for, people may turn to other kinds of fulfillment.

People often think that what they’re looking for can be found in drugs. Since drugs provide the reprieve they’re looking for; people think they are the solution. They confuse short-term satisfaction with the long-term stability they’re looking for.

The truth is that drugs make the problem worse, though. While using heroin may make things feel better for a night, there is always the next morning. People wake up with the same unsolved problems and turn back to drugs to escape them.

3. Biological Necessity

Addiction is a biological condition. The brain can become dependent on the chemicals people use. This dependency results in compulsive behavior.

It means addicted people will seek out drugs regardless of the negative consequences. The drug actually becomes a part of the person’s normal brain chemistry. Escaping that is not easy.

Luckily, there are treatments which alleviate that dependency. Methadone treatment is one of these treatments. It gives people a similar chemical to heroin, but in moderated dosages.

These dosages gradually decrease until the brain learns to compensate without them.

4. Peer Pressure

Drug users often have drug user friends. It is not uncommon for drug users to find themselves at parties or with other people using drugs.

To fit in people will use drugs to fit in with the people around them. People are wired to want to fit in with the crowd. If that means using drugs, people will do so.

It can be hard to escape crowds like this, too. Leaving them means abandoning deeply held friendships. Drug users tend to go through a lot together, and their bonds are tight.

The only way to pull someone out of that crowd is to be a better friend than their other ones. It doesn’t mean all hope is lost, though.

5. To Feel Better About Their Lives

Most drug users aren’t fulfilled in their lives. They turn to drugs to fill a hole left by their career or issues with their family. Whatever the reason, people usually use drugs to compensate for something else.

The silver lining here is that these issues are solvable through things other than drugs. All it takes is work, and usually, someone to lend a helping hand. Once the problem that led them to drug use is solved, so will their drug habits.

6. To Feel Happy

Sometimes, people use drugs and heroin just to feel happy. One in four people will have a mental disorder at some point in their lives. It’s always best to talk to a professional if someone is mentally distressed. Sometimes though, people choose to self-medicate.

Drugs and heroin, in particular, give a sense of euphoria. The high comes quickly and is incredibly intense. It’s described as something that makes life worthwhile and peaceful.

Unfortunately, this is not true happiness. True happiness does not come from a needle – it comes from work finding and maintaining it.

7. Because Drug Abuse Runs in the Family

Many people pick up the habits of their families. If drug abuse is prevalent in someone’s home growing up, then it will be common when they are grown. It normalizes, which makes it especially dangerous.

The full consequences of drug abuse aren’t fully understood in situations like these. It’s just another part of life, like eating dinner or going to work. The only way to break the habit is to understand it isn’t normal, and it certainly isn’t healthy.

8. To Feel Less Lonely

Finally, sometimes people are driven to drug use to feel less lonely. Despite the dangers of drug use, there is still a community around it. Users have to get to know dealers, and sometimes they mistake their dealers as their friends.

To help people who use drugs to combat loneliness is to just be there for them. It may not be evident at first, but consistently having their back gives them a reason to stop using. It tells them that they aren’t alone.

There is No Simple Question to Why Do People Do Heroin

No two people are the same. People can turn to drugs for a variety of reasons, including the ones listed here.

The best way to find out why someone uses drugs is just to ask them. Asking them why they use heroin can help open an honest conversation. That is the first step towards recovery.

The next time you’re wondering, “Why do people do heroin?” remember that the reasons vary widely. The drugs themselves are seldom ever the reason, though.

If you need any more information on why people use heroin, we have covered addiction articles you can read.

And if you’re a user who thinks they’re ready to recover, some people want to help. Reach out to someone, and they will help.

Want to learn more about methadone treatment? Give us a call at (855) 976- 2092!


[1] National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). What is the scope of heroin use in the United States? Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/scope-heroin-use-in-united-states

[2] Heroin Overdose Data | Drug Overdose | CDC Injury Center. (2018, December 19). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/heroin.html

[3] What is the U.S. Opioid Epidemic? (2017, December 4). Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/about-the-epidemic/index.html

[4] WHO | Mental disorders affect one in four people. (2o18). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/whr/2001/media_centre/press_release/en/
Guide to methadone therapy

The Ultimate Guide to Methadone Maintenance Therapy

As of 2016, there are approximately 948,000 Americans addicted to heroin. If you or someone you love currently uses heroin, you may be considering methadone maintenance therapy.

This type of long-term treatment has been the subject of debate over the years. How can treating an opioid addict with opioids work?

There is more to it than that. A methadone maintenance therapy plan can give addicts a long-term solution to conquering their addiction.

If you’re after more information on methadone maintenance therapy, you’re in the right place. Keep reading for how the treatment began, its goals, and success rate.

The reasoning for Methadone Maintenance Therapy

The history of methadone maintenance therapy is a heroin treatment option born from a study in the 1960s. The study showed that long-term heroin use resulted in the body having a permanent metabolic deficiency.

The way to treat heroin addiction then is to treat the deficiency with opioids. The treating opioid would have a long half-life instead of fasting acting like heroin.

This treating opioid would then release over the next 24 hours. The client then maintains a leveled out status throughout the day.

The treatment of methadone then acts as replacement therapy. The hope is that long-term maintenance therapy reduces the risk of relapse.

Methadone Maintenance Treatment Goals

The goal of a methadone maintenance treatment plan is to reduce drug use, improve quality of life, and reduce crime. The hope is that by reducing withdrawal symptoms, the drive to engage in risky behavior is also reduced.

Decrease Drug Use

By substituting the illicit drug with a medical treatment plan the addiction gets managed in a responsible way. Studies show that total abstinence is not an attainable goal for long-term users.

This treatment addresses that by replacing the opioid in the body. The difference is that the levels are lower and regulated to a certain level.

This reduces the body’s drive to seek out opioids. It also reduces or eliminates withdrawal symptoms. Without withdrawal symptoms, it is easier for the addict to abstain.

Decrease Risk of HIV

HIV gets spread throughout the opioid user’s community. This risk gets greatly reduced as addicts no longer seek out heroin use through needles on the street.

This is due to the decreased rate of sharing needles. It is also due to increased awareness and education on the risks of sharing needles.

Better Physical Health

It is common for illicit drug users to have infectious diseases. As exposure reduces, the illnesses can get cured or managed.

The most common diseases contracted are hepatitis B, C, and D, and HIV. Other nutritional issues can also get addressed. These include problems such as nutrition, dental care, and menstrual complications.

Other injuries can also get addressed that is a cause of being under the influence of illicit substances. These could include accidents such as falling.

Better Mental Health

Without an illicit drug affecting mood and personality, those in treatment can get back to being themselves. Often these users suffer from a range of psychological problems. Without the influence of opiates, they can get their disorder diagnosed and treated.

Decrease Crime

Often criminal activity and illicit drug use go hand in hand. While reduced criminal behavior shouldn’t be a drug treatment goal, it can be a benefit.

Methadone Success Rate

Compared to those users who went untreated, those in treatment had a reduced risk of dying. Those in methadone therapy treatment had a death rate of less than one percent. Whereas, those who left treatment had a death rate of 2.8 percent.

According to a study done in New York, those in MMT were less likely to have HIV from intravenous drug use complications over those who were not in treatment.

Success with a Methadone Maintenance Program

The success of an MMT plan depends on the combination of dose, formulation, distribution, and duration. The most influential being determining the correct dose.


Most doses range from 50-120 milligrams. This range tends to be more successful at preventing illicit opioid use than lower dosages at 20-40 milligrams.

Doses in the 50-120 range tend to block withdrawal symptoms from stopped use and euphoria from continued illicit use. There is no evidence that higher doses are more successful.


The most common methods of formulation are tablets, syrup, or mixed with orange juice. Diversion is a risk with tablets and syrup. Both of these versions can get injected.


This creates a risk of diversion. The most common reason for diversion is to supplement an illicit opioid addiction when the illicit drug is not available.

The risk of diversion can be addressed by requiring dosing to be at a pharmacy. Someone in treatment would then visit a clinic daily for treatment.


Clients who begin a treatment plan can experience the benefits on the first day. This is because the methadone begins to act within the body upon dosing.

It will take the body about three months to adjust and stabilize to the treatment. Those around the client will notice definite changes in behavior and physical appearance.

It can take up to two to three years for the full advantages to take effect. At this point, the greatest behavioral effect will have taken place.

Methadone Maintenance Treatment That Works for You

A methadone maintenance therapy plan takes the approach of addressing the metabolic deficiency. The theory being that long-term illicit opioid use creates a deficiency within the body.

An MMT plan reduces the risk of replacing by using an opioid with a long half-life. This reduces withdrawal symptoms and the euphoria of continued illicit use.

Those who enter an MMT plan have reduced the risk of infectious diseases and STDs. They can experience better physical and mental health.

The key to successful treatment is proper dosing. Clients will experience benefits on day one of treatment, but continued treatment is needed for the benefits of the plan to continue.

For more information contact (855) 976-2092 or check out our blog post on the effects of methadone on the body for more information.



[1] NIDA. (2018, June 8). Heroin. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin  on 2019, February 14

[2] CRC Health Group. (n.d.). Soldiers, Hippies and Richard Nixon – An American History of Methadone. Retrieved February 14, 2019, from https://www.crchealth.com/addiction/heroin-addiction-treatment/heroin-detox/history_methadone/

[3] FRANCES ROWE GEARING, MORTON D. SCHWEITZER; AN EPIDEMIOLOGIC EVALUATION OF LONG-TERM METHADONE MAINTENANCE TREATMENT FOR HEROIN ADDICTION, American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 100, Issue 2, 1 August 1974, Pages 101–112, https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a112012

[4] Des Jarlais DC, Friedman SR, Novick DM, et al. HIV-1 Infection Among Intravenous Drug Users in Manhattan, New York City, From 1977 Through 1987. JAMA. 1989;261(7):1008–1012. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420070058030

[5] SAMHSA. (2018) Methadone. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/treatment/methadone on 2019, February 14