Most people consider all levels of heroin use to be a problem. However, not every heroin user has a full-blown dependency on the substance. Some users are able to walk the line between recreational use and addiction for a while. That said, casual heroin use, or chipping, carries quite a few risks. Some of these risks are similar to the dangers a full-blown addict faces, while some are unique problems faced by the casual heroin user.
No matter how often they use it, heroin users typically indulge in the practice for the rush that the drug provides. The user will often find themselves experiencing a warm, flushing sensation of their skin, as well as heaviness in their limbs. These effects are common among drugs with a "downer" effect.
As a user continues the habit, their body will become tolerant of the substance. That means users need to increase their dosage in order to attain the desired physical effect. An overload of heroin can cause shallow breathing, rapid weight loss, and even death. Since these outcomes are tied to a larger dose of heroin, even casual users are flirting with these dangers through their habit.
Progression to Addiction
Heroin is a highly addictive substance because the drug crosses through the user's bloodstream into the brain where it is made into morphine. This morphine binds with the brain's opioid receptors, causing the brain to change its chemistry as a result.
There is almost no telling what street heroin is mixed with, or to what purity standard it is made. Therefore, it is impossible for any user to actually regulate the actual amount of heroin they take. A casual user simply cannot guarantee that their heroin use does not progress. That progression will eventually lead to addiction.
Chippers face a tough battle when trying to quit their habit. They won't have to deal with many of the withdrawal symptoms caused by chemical dependency, but they will have to tackle certain issues. Much like an alcohol abuser, the temptation to indulge is an ever-present issue.
Also, most casual users battle some form of compulsion or some reason that makes them want to escape from reality. At some point, even casual users must face these underlying issues and make peace with them. This is a difficult personal and spiritual journey that often requires a mentor or counselor to be successful. Casual users must also be on guard against replacing this compulsive habit with another.
Essentially, there is no such thing as responsible heroin use. While there is certainly a spectrum of addiction, every place on that spectrum is a dangerous place for anyone. Therefore, it is vital that even casual users seek help immediately.