Heroin overdose deaths are now all too common in this country. The news is inundated with people who have lost their battle with heroin and left their families and loved ones to grieve their tragic ending. More often than people realize, a heroin overdose death occurs because a person has been clean for a period of time and decided, for whatever reason, to use the drug “just one more time.”
Since the person’s body resets and their opiate tolerance is lowered after a period of sobriety, that one last shot is often the last because the user injected the same amount they were using when they had a habit that consisted of everyday use.
“A dose that used to make them high can now make them stop breathing and cause them to die,” explained Dr. Stephen Diamantoni, a coroner in Lancaster County Pennsylvania. A common trend for heroin addicts is often to get high for a period of time and then check into rehab. After the rehabilitation program has been completed the addict leaves with their body free of heroin and the cravings that come along with the drug.
Treatment centers often advocate that the person not return to their previous life, but instead seek out some sort of transitional living program that is more monitored and structured. This means more than just not using or associating with others that use, this means not returning to the area where the person used drugs.
Due to the contacts that still remain and the everyday reminders of the life that the individual has left behind, those who return to the same areas and situations where they abused heroin are often reminded on a constant basis of the drug use and its temptations. The allure of the drug and the false thinking that the person can use just one more time can be just enough to pull the former addict back into the life they worked so hard to overcome.
This dangerous thinking leads many to try heroin again and this is when many overdose deaths occur. Being unaware or cavalier about this drop in tolerance is mortally dangerous for recovering addicts. This is one of the many reasons why we work with people to find sober living environments after they complete inpatient treatment.