Heroin can wreak immense havoc on your health, both in the short and long term. While many people hope to overcome heroin addiction through commitment and dedication to sobriety, the scars of past heroin use could linger for years to come and, with enough abuse, could eventually lead to an early death. If you’re struggling with heroin addiction, it’s essential to seek help from trusted healthcare providers. With the right support system in place, you can take back control of your life!
What Is Heroin?
Since ancient times, people worldwide have used opium, the very raw form of heroin, to relieve pain and capture feelings of euphoria. Heroin is an opiate drug made from the opium poppy plant. The opium poppy grows in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Central and South America. In 1803, Frederick Serturner discovered extracting morphine from raw opium. Morphine is the main ingredient extracted from natural opium, generating euphoric feelings. That same morphine can easily be converted to heroin by a chemical process discovered in 1874.
The Effect of Heroin on the Brain and Behavior Patterns
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), the effects of heroin on the brain are extremely complex. When taken via intravenous injection or nasally (sniffed/snorted), the speed of heroin impacting mood and cognitive function is like a wave of incapacitation. This phenomenon occurs because heroin, more potent than morphine, masks its presence by matching the body’s natural endorphin—receptors in the brain. Essentially, the molecular structure of heroin fits into the endorphin-receptor sites on the brain’s nerve endings. This process creates intense euphoric effects.
Though the body produces and releases “feel-good” neurochemicals naturally, like when we eat food or exercise, heroin strikes the mind quicker and more heavily, making it addictive. Furthermore, heroin releases these feel-good hormones more rapidly than the body’s natural endorphins. Subsequently, people may find it difficult to stop using heroin for its ability to produce this intense euphoric feeling.
Besides inducing feelings of intense well-being, heroin produces sharp spikes in a person’s dopamine levels. Dopamine levels increase when the brain’s reward system is activated. This flood of dopamine brings about pleasurable sensations. It is these same pleasurable sensations that lay the foundation for addiction. The more a person uses a drug such as heroin, the more dopamine levels increase as heroin stimulates the brain’s reward system. Yet, as soon as the drug wears off, the person often experiences withdrawal symptoms such as chills, nausea and vomiting, muscle aches and pains, insomnia, diarrhea, cramping, and sweating.
The Long-Term Effects of Heroin Use
Heroin use can produce an array of long-term consequences. There are many undeniable links between heroin use and health problems, such as increased heart disease, respiratory problems, blood pressure issues, and others, including:
- Damage to the brain
- Collapsed veins
- Lung infections
- Significant impacts on your relationships and social life
- Chronic illnesses like HIV and hepatitis C from needle sharing
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, regret, and desperation
- Skin infections, scars, or wounds from repeated intravenous injection
- Addiction or craving for more potent substances
- Death from overdose or other causes related to drug abuse
Short-Term Effects of Heroin Use
Some significant short-term consequences of heroin use are tolerance, addiction, and withdrawal. For instance, people can quickly develop tolerance and withdrawal symptoms after using heroin. One may need to use more and more of the drug to achieve the same effects, leading to a greater sense of dependence. Heroin withdrawal symptoms can be intense and last for days or even weeks. These symptoms can include insomnia, anxiety, headaches, body aches and cramps, extreme cravings, and overall dysphoria (a feeling of dissatisfaction or unhappiness).
Some short-term effects of heroin include:
- Impaired ability to think straight or focus on tasks
- Unnatural euphoria and intoxication
- Anxiety and depression
- Sleep deprivation or insomnia
- Relationship problems
- Increased violent acts and encounters with the law
- Breathing difficulties
- Death due to overdose
What Is the Treatment for Heroin Addiction?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as addiction to heroin can vary in severity and duration. However, some treatments programs may help a person recover.
First and foremost, treatment should focus on helping you to break free from your addiction. This process involves working with a qualified rehabilitation facility that includes a medically-supervised detox, licensed clinicians, holistic therapies, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. It is essential to seek care from family, friends, and experts in addiction treatment. It is also vital to seek out support groups and fellowship with other recovering addicts to find the necessary support to help you maintain long-term sobriety. These programs can provide a sense of community and support while overcoming addiction.
Heroin use has the potential to lead to addiction, as well as long- and short-term health consequences. It’s essential to seek help if you think you or a loved one may be struggling with an addiction to this dangerous drug. If you or someone you care about suffers from heroin addiction, don’t wait another day to contact us. We are here for you, and your loved ones can begin receiving the help you need today. Heroin addiction is a disease that affects the mind and body, and unpleasant withdrawal is part of recovering from this particular substance. Thus, seeking medical supervision for your heroin detox is crucial to breaking free from the grasp of this powerful drug. At Restoration Recovery, treatment is available to help you overcome your symptoms and get back on track. Please get in touch with us at (888) 290-0925 if you want to learn more about our holistic treatment options.