The effects of heroin on the body can be devastating. Just one use can cause severe complications and make it difficult to stop taking the drug. Heroin can be smoked or snorted, but most users inject it directly for the quickest high.
Smoking or injecting this drug increases the potential for addiction and overdose. Those who are addicted will have a challenging time quitting. People suffering from heroin addiction often exhibit compulsive behaviors to obtain and use the drug.
Many people who abuse heroin will experience the short-term effects of heroin after just a few uses. Also, the longer a person abuses this drug, the more damage heroin does to the body. Both short-term and long-term damage can occur as a result of heroin abuse.
Effects Of Short-Term Heroin Use On The Body
A very fast-acting drug, once heroin enters the body, it quickly creates reactions in the brain and pulses throughout the body. When injecting the drug intravenously, the effects of heroin on the body take roughly seven to eight seconds to be felt. People who use heroin report feeling an immediate surge of pleasurable sensations. This is referred to as a rush.
While the rush happens immediately, there is also a variety of heroin aftereffects. Heroin does not only provide the user with a euphoric rush. On the heels of this rush, the drug can present a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, including:
- alternating between drowsiness and wakefulness
- respiratory depression
- decreased heart rate
- nausea and vomiting
- dry mouth
- intense itching
- flushing of the skin
- a heavy feeling in the extremities
- clouded mental functions
- slowed breathing
- slurred speech
- constricted pupils
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Long-Term Effects Of Heroin Use On The Body
The long-term effects of heroin on the body include damage to the brain. Over time, heroin can destroy the gray matter in the brain. Gray matter in the brain controls muscle movement, sight, hearing, emotions, speech, decision-making, and behavior.
All of these functions can be impaired through heroin use. The longer the use of the drug and the higher the dosage, the more stress is put on the body. Unfortunately, long-term heroin use can create imbalances that are not easily reversed.
When the brain is impacted by heroin over an extended period of time, an individual may develop the inability to regulate behavior or fail to respond to stressful situations. Heroin also produces substantial degrees of tolerance and physical dependence that make quitting the drug extremely difficult.
In addition to the damage to the brain, other long-term effects of heroin use on the body include:
- inflamed gums
- chronic constipation
- tooth decay and tooth loss
- weakened immune system
- respiratory problems
- muscular weakness
- memory loss
- decreased sexual function
Tolerance And Dependence From Heroin Abuse
The rush from heroin use is so intense and pleasurable that the individual often experiences a desire to repeat the process. The cycle of consumption and desire becomes more frequent, and the amount of heroin a person uses increases.
Eventually, the feeling from that original high is difficult to obtain, and the person needs to use more of the drug for the desired results. This is called tolerance. Tolerance occurs when more of the drug is required to achieve the same effects. With physical heroin dependence, the body adapts to the drug, and withdrawal symptoms occur quickly if the drug is stopped.
Heroin causes physical dependency in a short period of time. When a person starts showing signs of heroin addiction, it means the body and the brain have become chemically imbalanced. If heroin is not consistently introduced into a person’s body, they have a strong reaction called withdrawal.
Withdrawal From Heroin Abuse
Another impact of heroin on the body is withdrawal. When a physical dependence on heroin exists and the drug is stopped, a person will begin to experience withdrawal. Heroin withdrawal symptoms last anywhere from a few days to more than a week. Typically, they start within six to 12 hours of the last dose, peak in two to three days, and last up to 10 days in total.
Withdrawal may include the following symptoms:
- cold flashes with goosebumps
- muscle and bone pain
- strong cravings
- trouble sleeping
- uncontrollable leg movements
- vomiting and diarrhea
These withdrawal symptoms range in severity based on the level of dependence and duration of abuse. Unfortunately, many people who attempt to stop using heroin relapse or overdose in an effort to reduce the symptoms of the withdrawal.
Not only can heroin affect the body, but also it can lead to damage in other areas of a person’s life. Our Massachusetts heroin addiction treatment center can help with both the physical and emotional healing from heroin.
At Vertava Health Massachusetts, formerly Swift River Rehab, we will promise to be with you or your loved one every step of the way. If you want to learn more about heroin addiction or talk to one of our specialists, call us today.