Jul 15, 2019 in Research
Biological Aspects of Heroin Addiction


This paper will be discussing heroin, one of the most abused drugs. it will seek to show primary effects of the use of heroin on the body parts especially the brain, liver and adversely affects blood circulation. The various treatments methods available to the heroin addicts will also be discussed, together with the considerations that should be remembered when choosing the appropriate treatment method. The role of counselors and family members in the recovery journey of heroin addicts will also be discussed. There are also various ethical issues that arise with the treatment of heroin addicts, especially through counseling which will also be described in this paper. The paper will also seek to find the Christian views on the consumption of drugs such as alcohol and heroin and provide the biblical point of view regarding the usage and treatment of persons who abuse drugs. The paper will finally end with a conclusion which will sum up all the discussions made in the paper. 


Keywords: Heroin, Treatment, Abuse, Practitioner, Withdrawal symptoms 

Description of Heroin Behavior

Repeated usage of heroin causes a change in the physical structure of the person abusing it including the brain’s physiology leading to imbalances that are long-term in the hormonal and neural systems that are hard to reverse. Research has indicated that the brain’s white matter deteriorates because of heroin use and this may interfere with the decision-making capabilities, capabilities of regulating behavior and responses and situations that are stressful. Heroin is also said to produce significant degree of endurance and dependence physically. Tolerance happens when a lot of drug is needed for the achievement of similar effects. The body when it comes to physical dependence makes an adaptation to the existence of heroin and withdrawal signs happen if the usage is brought down suddenly.  Withdrawal may happen in a short duration after the last period when heroin was used. Withdrawal symptoms are inclusive of vomiting, restlessness, pain in the muscles and bones, cold flashes among others. Main withdrawal signs are highest between twenty four to forty eight hours after the last heroin dose and reduce after about seven days. Some persons, however, have shown consistent signs of withdrawal for many months. Repeated usage of heroin frequently leads to addiction which is a chronic relapsing condition. This condition goes beyond physical dependence and is distinguished by drug seeking which is not controllable irrespective of the consequences.


Heroin is very addictive regardless of the manner in which it is administered even though there are some roes of administration such as injection that allow it to quickly reach the brain thus raising the danger of addiction. Once an individual becomes a heroin addict, looking for heroin and using it becomes their basic purpose in life. Regardless of the manner in which chronic heroin users they ingest the drug, they go through various medical difficulties which are inclusive of constipation and lack of sleep. There may be also lung complications which are inclusive of tuberculosis and pneumonia arising from user’s the bad health and also the effect of depression from the heroin use. Most individuals go through mental disorders like depression and antisocial personality condition. Men users frequently experience sexual dysfunction while the menstruations cycles of women are interfered with thus hey become irregular.  There are also other specific effects associated with various administration routes. For instance, persons who repeatedly snort heroin may cause the damaging of their noses mucosal tissues and also their perforate nasal septum.


It is not renowned that the abuse of heroin causes injury to the brains of the users.  Research has also shown that breakdown of the brain becomes obvious as soon as after the start of chronic heroin abuse.  Brian damage may also arise from non-fatal overdoses and injuries to the head which are highly likely to happen in an impaired individual. Fragments of injuries that may be traced back to insufficient oxygen to the brain which may result from damages or overdoses are mainly found in continuing addicts of heroin.


Other studies have shown brain damage and deterioration arising from injection or smoking of heroin which is inclusive of the brain deterioration into a spongy condition which leads to a general weakness, permanent hand tremor and spastic attacks. Deprivation of oxygen may also lead to cognitive decline. It has been researched that even where an individual injects themselves with quantities of heroin that are not enough to lead to an overdose, they have the tendency of causing a brief drop in the levels of blood oxygen that are adequate to lead to a brain and organ damage following repetitive happens. 


Heroin abuse has also been linked to high proteins level in the urine which may cause kidney failure. These may arise from heroin viral contaminations, bacterial contaminations or toxins in the products used in the process of diluting the drug.


Heroin is said to lead to e reduction of the muscles of the intestines thus making constipation to be a regular problem. This may lead to fissures, hemorrhoids or other damages to the rectum thus necessitating surgery for their repair. Heroin is also known to endanger the life of a person through spreading deadly diseases. This happens through setting up the necessary conditions for gangrene by prompting an impulse towards suicide and other consequences.  Heroin abuse may also lead to severe damage of the blood circulation. Just like with the lungs. Heroin is also known to endanger the life of a person through spreading deadly diseases. This happens through setting up the necessary conditions for gangrene by prompting an impulse towards suicide and other consequences.  Heroin abuse may also lead to severe damage of the blood circulation. Just like with the lungs, small contaminants in heroin may lead to the blockage of the blood flow to hands and feet leading to gangrene. 

Clinical issues

Treatment of a heroin addicted patient is inclusive of assessing the patient, examining the available treatment choices and the possible results and negotiating with the patient around an proper treatment pathway.  While considering the likely modality, it is of significance to remember that most individuals come for treatment with misconstructions and regarding the and/or insufficient information regarding the main two options that are available. Generally, withdrawal treatment is suitable for individuals who are contemplating abstinence-based post-withdrawal treatment including counseling. This may also be availed to persons who do not have interest in linger-term treatment and just want time off dependence on heroin usage. However, maintenance replacement treatment may be a better solution for individuals with significant dependence of heroin and those who will not agree with residential rehabilitation though they desire to permanently bring down the amount of heroin they use and all the harm it is bringing to them.


Clinical decision –making ought to have an evidentiary foundation and patients must be provided with the relative evidence. This includes the advantages and the disadvantages of the treatment results associated with all the approaches. Within such a framework, there is a lot of evidence that suggest that maintenance substitution is the best treatment for many people with chronic dependence on heroin. This is in relation to its success in maintaining the patients in treatment and the reduction of damages that drug-related.  With the establishment that withdrawal is to be tried, there must be consideration provided to the services required in the achievement of the best outcome. An ideal setting and sufficient support must be found for every patient, and monitoring prepared for their individual needs and medication requirements. 


Withdrawal may take place in a continuous setting, which may include intensive residential that is, inpatient withdrawal unit or a health facility to outpatient for example home –based withdrawal services. Many heroin withdrawal trials can take place in outpatient settings, normally with the help of a general consultant, alcohol and drug worker or other professionals in the health department or field. 


Some patients may desire to endure with an outpatient withdrawal regardless of inappropriate home environments or having consistently not succeeded as outpatients in prior situations. Such trials at outpatient withdrawal may be suitable. However, practitioners must first do a negotiation with their patient to reach to a mutually accepted failure criteria for example, no major progress within certain duration. At such a point, there should be an agreement that a change will be made and the patient will take the alternative treatment method. 


Residential withdrawal setting normally gives all the variety of services required for a withdrawal occurrence. They give a drug free setting, with the support of the staff and the fellow patients and the ability of monitoring continuously. They normally have access to medical practitioners and medication. Patients who have been kept on a waiting list may require short-term support temporarily. In beginning with an outpatient withdrawal, there is the need for planning, mobilization of the needed support and services.


Patients have to be prepared to get used use to the new environment before the beginning of the sessions. For instance, it is difficult to succeed with the withdrawal while still in the company of person who are using it. Patients are, therefore, required to show support, both physically and emotionally or physiologically to allow successful treatment. A positive attitude is required from those willing to go through with this treatment. A safe place should be provided to these patients where there will not be any drugs that may be easily obtained and also an environment where patients will not face confrontations with other patients or heroin addicts. It is of importance to have caring individuals to offer support to the patient during the withdrawal process. These individuals should also be given guidance and other relevant information regarding the process and the proposals of what they may do offer reasonable assistance to their patients.  


Patients should be provided with information regarding the nature and the period of the withdrawal symptoms, approaches to cope with symptoms and cravings, tactics to do way with high-risk circumstance or situations and also the function of medication. This will allow them to be more positive as they will be aware of what is happening to them and the approximate time they have to endure with the withdrawal symptoms. They will also be more cooperative with the taking of medication. Patients normally have less concentration during this period thus the information availed should be repeated or even put in simple words to allow them to fully understand and absorb such information. Information that is documented is important and is recommended for the purpose of better comprehension by both the patients and their families or the persons available to give them moral support.


As mentioned earlier, counseling should also be offered to the patient during the withdrawal period. This counseling should be purposed at giving support to the patient to see the through the issues connected with the withdrawal. Counseling is also important in the facilitation of post-withdrawal links. Counselors should be mindful of their relation with the patients, to avoid presenting emotions that appear to be putting blame on the patient. Most patients will be going through many emotional, individual or seen relationship problems but the counselor should guide them into deferring these emotions. They should be encouraged to concentrate on their full recovery and not be destructed by these other factors as they will delay the recovery process or possibly lead to complete failure and the patient goes back to using heroin. This is because trying to work through these problems may cause them anxiety and this may intensify cravings and jeopardize the entire withdrawal process. Additionally, patients may get very irritable and at times violent thus cooperation will be minimal.  Counselors are supposed to give assurance to their patients to their understanding of these important things they have to deal with and promise them to help them through once they are on a safe zone through the withdrawal process. 


Friends and relatives should also offer guidance to the patients as a way of showing their moral support. They should demonstrate love and understanding and should not in any way make them feel guilty or blamed for their current condition. They should always support them through recovery by always being there for the patients and creating a happy environment for them. People who are particularly close with the patient such as spouses and children should be encouraged to be supportive to the patient to enable the look forward to their quick recovery to go back to the relationships.


Some ethical issues arise with the treatment of heroin addicts which include some practitioners viewing this as a self-inflicted condition and thus the patients ought to suffer as they recover especially with the withdrawal symptoms. This should not be the attitude as the patients have already realized their mistakes and have come to seek help from the facility. They should be guided and given support through their recovery and not made to feel like they deserved what is happening to them. 


Another ethical issue that may arise with the treatment of heroin addicts is the apperception that they were engaging in a criminal activity and should thus face penal consequences. The patients should first be helped through their recovery and penal measures may then follow. They should not be given the idea that they will face further punishment for their usage of heroin but should be encouraged to see a positive life and a second chance in life after their recovery. Counselors should not be concerned with the punishment that the heroin addict should be liable face. Their role should be guiding them through recovery and being impartial, that means not having negative emotions towards the patient and their life in general. Their positive attitude will also be reflected in the patient’s quick recovery. 

Christian Worldview Implications

As it has been described above, has numerous and divergent connotations. A glass of wine taken after a meal can be used to symbolize love, relaxation, romance, success, the delight of a unique occasion among other grandeur things. During the Eucharist, where wine is also passed around, and glory is given to God for the saving of sinners from the yoke of sin, and all that condemns, restricts and enslaves. While dining and wining, Christians partake with the first followers of Christ during the last meal, and Jews similarly partake with their fellow Hebrew in their movement from Egypt to Canaan as documented in the book of Exodus. Unfortunately, the purity and reverence associated with these occasions, are in contrast with the relations of alcohol including drunken violence, liver cirrhosis, debt in our families, and the road carnages experienced in their numbers.

A Christian’s Point of View

Christianity views addiction in a couple of ways. The first and the most common one is to “cause to become physiologically or mentally reliant on a habit-forming substance.” According to the Bible in the books of Titus 1:7, 1st Timothy (3:3 and 3:8), persons who are addicted or “take a lot of wine”, or “heavy drinkers” respectively, are not qualified to give teachings or hold posts of leadership in the church setting. Doing so would be contrary to God’s teachings. It is apparent that church leadership requires a sober and level-headed mind so that others can learn from their example. Other church members observe and ape their mannerisms, and they ought to lead by example. According to 1st Corinthians 6:10 Drunkards shall not inherit God’s kingdom. In other words, a Christian is prohibited from being a drunkard failure to which he will never make it to heaven. Heaven is the ultimate place for Christians and no Christian worth their salt would want to miss out on going to paradise. People who are true believers and followers of Christ must therefore not be dependent on alcohol. Doing so would only serve to disqualify them from being candidates of heaven. It therefore logically follows that this is the case with addiction to any other substance including heroin and other drugs, gambling, pornography among others. Heroin addicts are therefore banned from holding positions in the church lest they influence the true worshippers of God to following their ways that are not acceptable to him. Further, in line with the teachings of 1st Corinthians Chapter 6:10, a heroin addict does not stand a chance to make it to paradise unless he reforms and changes his ways.


The other view of addiction is the occupation of oneself or the involvement of the self with a substance compulsively or as a habit. This includes an abnormal obsession with anything else apart from the Almighty Father. Such things that a person can have an obsession with include, work, sports, education, politics and even children (family). Anyone compulsively obsessed with the above-mentioned things is deemed to have an addiction. Following the teachings in Deuteronomy Chapter 6:5, we are commanded to love the Lord with all our hearts, all our souls, and all our might. That is to say, if we must be addicted to something that should be only one person and that person is the Lord. Matthew Chapter, 22 verses 37-38, espouse that the commandment in Deuteronomy is the greatest commandment. If a Christian can love the Lord and give their all to him, then they are in compliance with his teachings and will consequently be rewarded. From Exodus Chapter 20, we are aware that there are Ten Commandments but Matthew 22:37-38 implies that they are all subservient to it. Strong adherents of the Christian faith have no option but to follow this commandment. We can, therefore, make a conclusion that getting addicted to other things apart from God is not permissible. The almighty father is the only person and thing that we have been allowed to occupy ourselves with as a habit. To be addicted to something else pulls away from him, makes him jealous and unhappy. God, the father, is the only being that is worthy to be totally worshiped, loved and given all attention. Complete love, obsession, service or attention to any other thing is outright idolatry. It, therefore, goes without saying that the love for drugs, heroin included, is prohibited and condemned in the Bible. Any person who engages in such a habit compulsively is deemed to be worshiping it and hence not living in accordance with the teachings of Christianity. In fact, this second view makes addiction to substances and drugs a grievous sin given that loving the Lord with all the heart, soul and might is the greatest commandment.


From the discussion, it can also be seen that taking alcohol is not totally prohibited in Christianity. Using during meal times and other special occasions is permitted. The problem, however, is when people overindulge and become addicted to it. Christianity does not condone this, and the Bible expressly prohibits such persons from holding leadership positions in the church. The Bible also states that persons who are addicts shall not inherit God’s Kingdom. Further, the discussion also reveals that becoming addicted to anything including drugs is tantamount to idolatry since God has commanded us to love him with all our hearts, soul and strength.


For the persons who have chosen the road to recovery, there are options available for them including guidance and medication. They should be given support from all the medical practitioners and also their loved ones.  This should be done to avoid more damage to the body caused by the usage of heroin. 



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