Heroin feels amazing — puts you in this zen space — which is why it is so addictive. I’ve tried it but wisely didn’t try it a second time. This addiction is no different than the sugar addiction, the smoking addiction, the addiction to anything. Most alcoholics were nicotine addicts first (90–95%). You didn’t mention if she has a sugar or nicotine addiction. The legal drugs serve as gateways to the illicit because they teach the brain a pattern of dependency, in childhood or in the teen years, when the brain is still building the social centers and survival centers of the brain. I’ve been around addicts a large portion of my adult life. Addiction seems to be a consciousness problem, above all. Until the person can understand how their brain has been mis-programmed, it is very hard to change that program. This is no different from the person that learns an unhealthy pattern of dealing with their anger, or their sadness. So we’re all in it, and being forced to learn quickly about the nature of our own minds, or to suffer greatly from this lack of self-knowledge.
As far as your sister is concerned, the shame that the legal system teaches in association with this addiction (i.e. putting her in jail) only adds another level of complication to what she must unravel. A feeling of shame will not bring her out of addiction; it will only reenforce it. Being separated from her child for an extended period serves no one. Our judgemental society scapegoats those who are already suffering the most. An important thing you can do is to recognize your own bad habits or ‘addictions’ and to understand just how hard a bad habit can be to break.