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Heroin addiction creates a bio-chemical imbalance. The body systems go through a kind of shock reaction when heroin is first used. Heroin addiction or even brief heroin use burns up the natural nutrient reserves in the body. The body adjusts to the heroin and demands heroin instead of processing its natural enzymes and hormones to activate the body’s survival centers. Important normal and natural systems are ‘bypassed’ and the body can become quickly dependant on heroin to feel good or function at all. That is bio-chemical addiction.

Heroin addiction occurs after the body adapts to the effects of heroin. Heroin addicts get a temporary pleasure called a ‘high’ or ‘rush’ when they use drugs. Feeling good is a natural reward for doing things which promote better survival for self and others. ‘Pleasure’ is a temporary state. ‘Happiness’ would be the long term condition of feeling good due to creating better survival for self and others. Heroin use creates a temporary artificial pleasure in the heroin addict that ‘rewards’ the addict by killing some of the pain he or she may be feeling. The heroin addict now compulsively or obsessively uses heroin to feel good again.

Withdrawal symptoms may occur within a few hours after the last time the drug is taken. Symptoms of withdrawal include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps (“cold turkey”), and leg movements. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 24 and 48 hours after the last dose of heroin, and subside after about a week. However, some people have shown persistent withdrawal signs for many months. Heroin withdrawal is not fatal to otherwise healthy adults.