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No One is a Former Heroin Addict

Posted on :  March 24th, 2016  |  By :  towardsrecovery

Is heroin addiction a disease? Not in the eyes of recovering addicts. The trouble with being a heroin addict is that the addiction is always there, it never fully goes away. So, no one can be called a “former” heroin addict.

Why Addiction is Not a Disease

Addiction is often referred to as a disease. In reality, heroin addiction is far from being a disease. A disease is a physiological abnormality that creates symptoms. For example, someone with asthmas has a physiological problem that creates tightness in the lungs and difficulty breathing. This is a problem that can be treated with asthma medication like inhalers. No one can choose to not have an asthma attack and no one chooses whether or not to develop the symptoms of the disease.

Drug addiction is not a disease because it is a choice that someone actually makes. Drug addiction is not caused by a physiological abnormality. The drugs might cause abnormalities over time, but the cause of the abnormalities comes from the choice of taking drugs. Choice is the difference between disease and addiction.

Recovery Can Last a Lifetime

Men and women who are in recovery are usually recovering for their entire life. The brain becomes so accustomed to the sensations of heroin, that there is always an underlying craving for the drug. This makes it difficult to heroin users to consider their problem a disease. It is not hereditary. It is not contagious. It is not something that can be treated and then go away. But, despite the fact that heroin addiction can be a life-long struggle, heroin addiction does not have to be a death sentence.

Make Lifestyle Changes

Some recovering addicts will work on changing their lifestyles so they are no longer in environments that offer the temptation of using. Many recovering addicts will use drug therapies like our methadone maintenance program at Towards Recovery Clinics. Addicts will also turn to lifestyle changes like getting involved in religion. They might also make public proclamations that are no longer using drugs – this can create a support system that will help them maintain their recovery status.

The daily struggle is real for heroin addicts who are avoiding the drug. Some recovering addicts will relapse, but instead of continuing to relapse, they should step back and continue on the road to a positive, heroin-free lifestyle. This makes the everyday struggle real, but worth it. There are programs that heroin addicts can attend, like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous where users can rely on a strong support system to help them stay on track.

Try the 12 Steps

Some recovering users will get highly involved in AA or NA and begin to recruit others in the 12-steps. They work had to continue to payback society in selfless acts and good deeds. However, recovering addicts can continue to defeat their successes by labeling themselves as addicts or users. It is helpful to include the term “recovering” because it adds a positive connotation to the negative idea of being a user.

There are some recovering addicts who prefer to remove all terms about heroin usage from their vocabulary. Instead of always thinking about recovering, they have decided to simply stop using and start living a drug-free life. It can be personally abusive for people to overuse the idea of recovering, because it prevents users from truly stopping their heroin use. If they are recovering, some users believe that can continue to use because they can recover the next day – kind of like recovering from a hangover. But others need the term, because they need to believe that they can recover and they can be stronger without drugs than with them.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at 905-527-2042 or email at

Who We Serve ?

  • Individuals using/abusing street narcotics (e.g. heroin).
  • Patients abusing prescription narcotics(i.e., Codeine, Talwin, Percocet/Percodan, Dilaudid, Morphine or Demerol, et cetera).
  • Individuals displaying any of the following behaviours: Compulsive drug use or drug seeking/craving.
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