Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Fall 2018

Department 1

First Year Seminar

Department 2

Religious Studies


Heroin is an opioid that commonly appears as white or brown powder. Eventually a person can become physically dependent on heroin, meaning the body begins to expect the drug. A sudden withdrawal from the drug can cause intense symptoms such as vomiting, muscle pain, and cravings, often leading to relapse (Shannon, p. 172). Although the initial decision to try heroin may be up to the addict, due to the dependence one develops when using heroin, addiction eventually morphs into an involuntary compulsion. There are many factors out of an individual’s control that influence their likelihood of trying heroin and becoming addicted, such as their genes, the environment they grew up in, and how early they began their drug use (National Institute On Drug Abuse). Much of modern society has a preconceived notion that drug addicts are bad people and that their struggle with addiction could have been avoided if they had made better choices. In short, many people believe that drug addiction is a choice. However, this mentality and the poor image of medication-assisted treatment for addiction the medical community and public commonly hold have been shown to be dangerous and oftentimes lead to more overdose deaths. All in all, despite the fact that the initial decision to try heroin is mostly based on choice, a person does not have control in whether or not they become addicted due to multiple predetermined factors, thus demonstrating that heroin addiction is not a choice and that the stigma surrounding heroin addiction and medicine-assisted treatment, a stigma that has shown to cause more deaths from overdose, is not warranted.


Written for FYS 150: Death and the Meaning of Life.