Is Heroin Addiction a Disease?

what is heroin addiction

Is heroin addiction a disease? Or could it be a choice? Too many people have asked themselves these questions as they struggle to come to terms with a loved one’s addiction to heroin. This is the type of drug that is extremely consuming and will take over someone’s life. Heroin can be injected or snorted, and is purchased illegally. It’s an opioid made from morphine, a natural substance taken from the seed pod of the various opium poppy plants grown in Southeast and Southwest Asia, Mexico, and Colombia.

Outsiders often see heroin addiction as a bad choice, one that the addict keeps making over and over again. Even heroin addicts themselves struggle with the shame of seeing themselves as incapable of making “the right choices”. 

But addiction isn’t a choice; it is a disease, which is why addicts can’t “seem to help themselves”. There are many facts about addiction being a disease, and in this article, we’ll be discussing a few. 

But first, what is addiction

Addiction Defined

According to the new definition adopted by the Addiction Society of Addiction Medicine, ASAM board of directors in September 2019, “addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People suffering from addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.”

And like any other chronic disease, addiction can progressively worsen without treatment. Early detection and treatment also have a higher chance of being effective in the long run. 

A Heroin Addiction Isn’t a Choice

So, back to the question… Is heroin addiction a disease? 

Although it is clear that heroin addiction or any other form of addiction is a disease, many still feel that it should be classified under the effects of “bad choices.” 

It’s difficult for people who don’t understand addiction to classify heroin addiction with other chronic diseases like cancer because of addictions’ self-destructive nature. 

Individuals who suffer from any form of addiction, including heroin addiction, always search for reward or comfort in repeated substance use. This repeated dependency on a harmful substance is what others perceive to be a choice. 

This idea stems from the assumption that an individual with strong morals can choose to stop. But addictions don’t work like this. Many addicts would have stopped using a long time ago if it worked that way. 

Addictions are classified as diseases because they affect the brain and leave an individual unable to stop. Just as cancerous cells take over the body, heroin alters the brain’s receptors in ways that make the individual unable to function without it. 

When a person becomes addicted to a substance, it ceases to become a “conscious choice” to continue. The individual cannot stop on their own. They might have good days, weeks, or even months where they might be in remission, but ultimately, they get sick again. 

When you consider these facts about addiction being a disease, you’ll realize that addicts are struggling as any other sick individual. Now is heroin addiction a disease? Of course it is

How to Get Help With a Heroin Addiction

What can be done for individuals who want to get better? 

Thankfully, there are many addiction treatment centers spread across the United States. You can find one close to home or very far away. Look for one that suits you best and reach out to them.

Our facility Anchored Tides Recovery located in Huntington Beach is an excellent addiction treatment facility for women, run by women. 

We offer a ton of treatment options, including partial hospitalization, as well as a comfortable environment to help you focus on your healing process. Reach out to us today for help with your addiction. 

The Link Between Sexual Abuse and Addiction

sexual abuse and addiction

There are numerous reasons an individual falls victim to sexual abuse and addiction. Childhood trauma can put people at risk for drug and alcohol addiction. In actuality, women who have experienced sexual abuse at a young age are three times more likely to use drugs, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

As a result of this truth, it is vital to know the negative effects one can experience when suffering from sexual abuse. Together, we can work together to end the stigma of addiction and get any women struggling with  substance abuse the help they need. 

Defining Physical and Sexual Abuse

Physical abuse is a large umbrella that encompasses sexual abuse and other forms of abuse. To better understand both terms, let’s define them separately.

Physical abuse involves causing harm to another through body contact. Sexual abuse, on the other hand, is the act of coercing another into sexual activity without consent.

The Link Between Sexual Abuse and Addiction

Sexual abuse and addiction are locked in a cycle that often has an indefinite start  and endpoint. Most times, kids are at a high risk of sexual or physical abuse, especially if they live with an addict. This is because drugs and alcohol can undermine the ward or parent’s ability to give daily care in the same manner they would if they were sober.

If the parent or caretaker isn’t the abuser, the child can still be exposed to abuse from others if they’re left unsupervised. With that being said, not all children that experience trauma and abuse won’t necessarily grow up to be addicted to substances as addiction is not unique to childhood sexual trauma. But when an individual experiences a trauma that’s typically linked with violent sexual misconduct, the individual may turn to alcohol or drugs to suppress the pain associated with the trauma they’ve endured.

If the parents of the child abused alcohol or drugs, they might likely continue the cycle afterward. For specific people, this act can become a fully developed addiction. Why? It’s simple! When a person starts using, their brains and central nervous systems adapt to these chemical substances and slowly take more of the substance to produce the same feeling they sought originally.

The above mentioned describes the intent of an addict who starts using drugs as a coping mechanism for the sexual abuse they suffered. It also captures the link between sexual abuse and alcoholism.

For those who have been sexually abused, they may experience the following:

  • PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

The victim experiences flashbacks of the traumatic event. These flashbacks become so haunting that they feel less confident and a constant void. If the victim goes through these without communicating with a therapist, the situation may likely exacerbate.

  • Depression

Depression is just one of the numerous ways PTSD manifests. In this case, the victim loses interest in basically everything and may even contemplate suicide. 

  • Anxiety and Fear

Following the event of sexual abuse, the victim may experience shock or anxiety. The event can also make the individual experience denial, become withdrawn, fearful, or develop substance abuse disorders. Efficient treatment for victims may include several therapies such as group therapy, behavioural therapy, and cognitive therapy.

Treat Your Addiction With Help From Anchored Tides Recovery 

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please reach out to us at Anchored Tides Recovery today. We’re located in beautiful Huntington Beach, California, and are dedicated to providing women the best addiction treatment possible. 

We understand the link between sexual abuse and addiction. As such, we have different programs that will help you heal from the trauma and take you on a path to recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you secure a win over alcohol and drug addiction.

Wellness Tips for Women in Early Recovery

tips for women in recovery

Wellness for women in recovery requires a deliberate effort to manage addiction while adopting healthy life choices. 

According to SAMHSA, wellness is being in a healthy mental and physical state. This implies that addiction recovery is more than just abstaining from one’s substance of choice. It involves maintaining a state of wellness.

What Is Early Recovery From Addiction Like?

Recovery doesn’t only happen in a treatment facility but in the daily life choices you make. The road to recovery from addiction can be filled with many challenges. It can be an everyday struggle that can be compounded by stress, mental illness, and sometimes relapses.

According to reports, about 90% of people recovering from addiction have a relapse. This statistics is not to discourage your recovery journey thought, as relapse doesn’t signify treatment failure. However, to stay healthy and avoid relapse, it is encouraged you develop wellness and self-care tips. 

Women and Wellness: Self Care Tips

Wellness for women starts with self-care. Aside from trying to stay sober, it is important for women to develop self-care habits that can heal both the mind and body. 

To help you with your recovery journey, we have compiled some proven tips for women and wellness. 

  1. Nutrition 

Good health starts with a healthy diet. Eating mineral and vitamin-rich foods is essential to a good, a balanced diet. Not only will a balanced diet improve your physical wellness, your mood and mental health will also improve.

Also, a regular balanced diet can help undo the damages of addictive substances and facilitate your healing. Some balanced diet tips include: 

  • Include a lot of fruit, vegetables, proteins, and vegetables in your diet
  • Avoid processed foods 
  • Drink a lot of water


  1. Exercise

Nutrition goes hand in hand with physical exercise. Staying fit is necessary to facilitate your wellness. Try a variety of different physical activities and find one that suits your lifestyle.

Asides from lowering stress levels, exercise is a proven way to reduce your cravings for addictive substances. When you work out, your brain releases some feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine.

  1.  Practice Mindfulness 

Mindfulness can help your recovery process and improve your mental wellbeing in so many ways. Devote a few minutes of your day to meditating, reflecting and introspecting. Look inwards, pay attention to how you feel, and assess your life. 

Incorporating mindfulness into your daily life will help you reduce stress and calm your emotions. Also, by paying attention, you get to acknowledge your progress and identify areas you need to make improvements. 

  1. Socializing

The people you spend your time with will play a huge role in your wellness and recovery journey. Try as much as possible to avoid social isolation, socializing will improve your physical and mental wellness.

Make new friends, visit new places, join a social group, mix up with people who understand your journey.

  1. Support Groups

You can also get involved with support groups where you get to interact with recovering addicts. Addiction and recovery isn’t something to be ashamed of. Being open about your recovery journey with others will give you a sense of community and improve your recovery journey. 

Reach Out To Us Today

At Anchored Tides Recovery, we offer help to women struggling with addiction to alcohol or drugs. We are located at Huntington Beach, CA and our aim is to help women with their recovery through unique and diverse approaches. 

There are a lot of differences between the way men and women deal with addiction, that is why we prioritize wellness for women at our facility. We offer an environment and treatment programs designed specifically for women. Get in touch with us today and let’s get started on your recovery process!