Physical Effects of Heroin
Heroin is a powerful opiate drug that has drastic, immediate and long-term physical effects on the body and the brain of individuals who use it. If you have a loved one in your life who is abusing heroin, you need to understand the risks they are taking every time they use. With help, you can communicate these risks to them, and perhaps convince them that help is available.
The immediate effects of heroin are often rather obvious. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the type of heroin used determines how quickly the effects are felt. For instance, injecting heroin with a syringe provides an almost immediate reaction. When heroin is smoke or snorted, the effects won’t present themselves for about 15 minutes.
Heroin changes into morphine when it is introduced to the brain, as explained by NIDA. The morphine attaches itself to the opioid receptors in the brain, which allow the human body to experience pain and feel pleasure. The disruption of these receptors is what makes the heroin user experience the euphoria they are looking for.
If the drug is injected, the addict experiences an almost immediate rush of euphoria. After this initial rush, or if they use another method of ingestion, they will experience a period of drowsiness, alternating between being awake and nodding off.
The next effect of heroin use is tolerance. As the human brain gets used to the presence of heroin, the user will find that the body adjusts. More heroin ingestion is then needed to obtain the same level of euphoria. It is this tolerance and increased use that leads to addiction.
Heroin Overdose Risks
Because heroin attaches itself to the opioid receptors in the brain, overdose fatalities are always a threat. The human brain stem contains opioid receptors and it is directly responsible for certain necessary functions of the human body. These functions include:
- Blood circulation
- Relaying of messages concerning pain
Ask yourself why you put on a jacket when you’re cold. Is it because you know you’re cold? Heroin can delay this message and places the drug user at risk for hypothermia and death from exposure in addition to the actual shutting down of other necessary body functions. Basic mental acuity is slowed down, according to the National Institute of Health. Those under the effects of heroin can make very bad choices.
Long-Term Physical Effects of Heroin Addiction
Individuals who use drugs administered with an IV place themselves at additional risk for long-term health problems, and heroin users are no exception, as NIDA research has determined over the years. Chronic use of heroin can lead to collapsed veins, in addition to the bacterial infections of the heart and blood vessels. Sharing needles can lead to hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Heroin use can manifest health problems such as rheumatoid arthritis as well, due to killing off cells in the body.
Heroin is rarely found in its purest form. Because it is a schedule I drug, which means that there is no medical use for it, there is no regulation on the manufacture of heroin. To increase profits, manufacturers will “cut” the product with such ingredients as sugar, powdered milk or even quinine, according the Department of Justice. Some of these varying ingredients do not dissolve well and when they are injected, they can form clots in the body that can affect major organs, such as the brain, heart and lungs.
Getting help for heroin addiction is a vital first step to decreasing the risks of these terrible effects. If you or someone you love is suffering from heroin addiction, please contact us today. We can help you find the right recovery program for you and your family.