It should come as no surprise that the heroin effects on the body can be severe and wide-ranging, especially once addiction sets in.
Addiction to heroin, formally known as opioid use disorder, is characterized by an array of distressing and unpleasant symptoms, both physical and psychological. For the purposes of today’s brief guide, we’ll focus primarily on the many ways in which heroin affects the body.
Heroin is a semi-synthetic opioid derived from morphine obtained from the seed pods of opium poppies. Most commonly injected, but also smoked and snorted, using heroin delivers an immediate and euphoric rush, while at the same time slowing down respiration and heart rate.
Powerfully addictive, tolerance to heroin rapidly builds, so you’ll need to use more of the drug to achieve the same effect. Using the substance long-term almost inevitably results in heroin addiction.
So, while the drug can cause psychological damage, we’ll double down now on the physical effects of heroin abuse.
Examples of Physical Effects of Heroin
However you take heroin, the drug enters your brain quickly. Here, it latches onto the opioid receptors in many areas, especially those associated with:
- Heart rate
Although heroin can cause some short-term problems – more on those below – most of the damage incurred results from sustained heroin use disorder.
Here’s a snapshot of just some of the adverse physical effects of heroin abuse:
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Constricted pupils
- Continuous flu-like symptoms
- Respiratory problems
- Uncontrollable itching
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Unintentional and significant weight loss
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Regular chest infections
- Skin damage through injecting heroin
- Hepatitis C
- Infection of the heart valve and lining
- Blood clots
If you become addicted to heroin, you’ll experience extremely unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if you stop using the drug. Medical detox and a structured treatment program can help you to leave heroin addiction behind, though, and we’ll show you how to achieve that after outlining the short-term and long-term physical effects of abusing this lethal opiate.
Short-Term Heroin Physical Effects
After smoking, snorting, or injecting heroin, you can expect to experience any or all of the following immediate short-term effects:
- Slowed heart rate
- Appetite loss
- Dry mouth
- Decreased lung function
- Flushed skin
- Flu-like symptoms
While many of these short-term effects of heroin use are unpleasant, the powerful cravings you will experience from the drug override this.
Unfortunately, the more you cave into cravings, the more your tolerance for heroin will grow. As you start needing to use more of the drug to feel the same effects, you’ll spend even more money, raise your risk of overdose, and also increase your chances of developing some of the more serious long-term physical effects associated with heroin abuse.
Long-Term Physical Effects of Heroin
As the person continues to use heroin over longer periods of time, they will experience other physical and mental health problems.
Some of the physical long term effects of heroin include:
- Compromised immune system
- Collapsed veins
- Brain damage
- Increased risk of overdose
- More risk of hepatitis
- Skin abscesses
- Breathing problems
- Higher risk of contracting AIDS
- Liver disease
- Increased risk of strokes and blood clots
Now, while the physical effects of heroin are damaging enough, it’s worth mentioning in closing some of the more serious psychological and emotional consequences of heroin addiction.
Sustained heroin abuse can lead to gray matter in your brain being damaged. This area of the brain governs speech, muscle control, and decision-making.
Heroin abuse can also dramatically impact your mental state. Cognitive function is impaired by heroin abuse. Heroin use disorder also frequently co-occurs with anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. As with all cases of dual diagnosis, these issues can feed into each other and inflame each other.
Fortunately, you can avoid all of this by moving beyond heroin use and embracing a commitment to recovery.
Overcoming Heroin Addiction at The District Recovery
Research shows that medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder and heroin use disorder can minimize some dangers while bringing about some benefits.
Using MAT improves overall retention in treatment, while also reducing the transmission of infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, as well as reducing drug use and criminal activity.
So, while heroin is fiercely addictive, you can fight back and recover from even severe heroin addiction with the right treatment in place.
FDA-approved medications can help to reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms, while also reducing the cravings you’ll experience for heroin after detox and withdrawal.
Here at The District Recovery Community, our evidence-based outpatient treatment programs allow you to benefit from MAT alongside psychotherapy, counseling, and holistic therapies for a whole-body approach to addiction treatment and recovery.
All you need to do to start enjoying life without the debilitating menace of heroin is to call admissions today at 844.287.8506.