The needle slides in, and then there is the massive rush; the head falls back, and the nod is on. Even though it only lasts for a few minutes, those few minutes are serious in the mind of a heroin addict, and it can turn out to be life-threatening if it is left unattended. It is highly likely that heroin withdrawal symptoms will occur when you start the treatment.
The life of a heroin addict is every bit as bleak as it gets. There are not many ways that someone could sink much lower than heroin. Having said that, most people do get it. There was a genetic link, a traumatic event, a poor upbringing, or maybe just a bad decision that started the journey down the road to toxicity and peril of heroin addiction. Regardless of what started someone’s heroin addiction, the truth is that people change, they go into recovery, and they come out fighting for their lives. The urge to use heroin will always be alive and well, but the individual now has the tools to manage his own disease, and you know what, they really want to.
The heroin addict realizes what he has done to keep his addiction alive. He knows that he abandoned his children and nothing can make up for the lost years, he knows that his marriage crumbled because he was using drugs, and he knows that he walked out of rehab without much to live for, but he is ready to fight to repair some of the damage and get his life back. His penalty has been stiff, and he is paying the price. In fact, he will pay for the rest of his life, and he will pay dearly, but he will do it clean and sober.
There is one problem that threatens his sobriety each and every day, and that is the stigma that surrounds the heroin addict and the fact that they are still being judged. They are being convicted of the same crime day after day, and this could eventually be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. This will bring the individual down to their knees faster than anything.
For some reason, people still link the heroin addict to the homeless vagabond, the liar, and the thief. Most of the time, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Would the stigma be reduced if the addiction started another way? What if a guy was married with kids, had a decent job, a car, a house, and his respect? He gets hurt on the job and messes up his back, starts taking prescription pain pills, gets hooked, and then turns to heroin because it is cheaper? Does the stigma change then?
Stigmas are imposed by society, communities, friends, and family members because many people believe that addiction is a character flaw or a weakness in a person. The reality of heroin abusers is that the majority are just like everyone else. They are parents, children, friends, coworkers, sisters, and brothers. People who are trying to fight their disease need as much support and care as possible in order to give them the strength to recover. Erasing the stigma begins with education.