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What are the Short and Long-Term Effects of Heroin Abuse

Wondering about the short and long-term effects of Heroin Abuse? Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine and mixed with a substance taken from the seed pod of the opioid poppy plant. You can find Heroin in the form of a white or brown powder of a sticky substance called black tar heroin. Both highly addictive and illicit it is one of the most abused drugs in the world due to its rapid-acting properties. When heroin is used it creates a surge of pleasurable sensations otherwise known as a “rush”. This rush feels so good that a first-time user can easily become addicted even if they have tried it only once. After a while, higher doses are needed to feel the same rush as the user felt when it was first taken resulting in physical dependence on the drug.

When this happens the brain’s psychological state is altered, and a person cannot stop using the drug because of opioid withdrawal syndrome. It is a never-ending cycle, that unfortunately if not treated can quickly become deadly.

The Short-Term Effects of Heroin Abuse

It is important to remember that even short-term use of heroin can create dangerous side effects. The severity of these side effects is all dependent on the user’s stature, weight, other drugs that are being taken simultaneously as well as the amount used and the length of time that it has been used.

Although the side effects of short-term heroin use tend to subside, they are still dangerous and pose a dangerous risk to a person’s overall health.

After using heroin, a person may experience the following short-term health-related effects:

  • A rush of euphoria lasting anywhere from 3-5 hours
  • Slower breathing together with a slow heart rate
  • A Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Profound Itching
  • Disorientation and muddled thinking
  • Drowsiness
  • Small pupils
  • Flushed skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • A feeling of limb heaviness

Unfortunately, as a person continues using heroin physical dependence on the drug can quickly set in as a response to the ongoing use of the substance.

Physical dependence can happen with any drug, not just heroin. Those who become addicted to alcohol and smoking can also experience physical dependence with the only difference being that heroin is an unlawful drug while alcohol and cigarettes are freely available.

The body adapts to the drug to survive and develops a tolerance. Therefore, a user needs more for it to produce the desired effect. Once the volume of the drug is increased, the risk to the user increases.

At The Retreat of Atlanta, we realize that in the United States, heroin addiction has become a big issue. According to the CDC, heroin use has risen among a diverse group of people, including women and those with higher incomes.

The Long-Term Effects of Heroin Abuse

Using heroin repeatedly can cause changes to the physiology of the brain as well as the brain’s physical structure. This can create an imbalance of the neuronal and hormonal system which is unfortunately not easy to reverse.

Chronic users of heroin are known to suffer from several health problems, including:

  • Liver disease
  • Hepatitis
  • HIV
  • Heart and pulmonary infections
  • Lack of stress-control skills
  • Skin infections
  • Collapsed veins
  • Constipation
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Miscarriage
  • Kidney disease
  • Destruction of white matter in the brain
  • Women Infertility

Long-Term Side Effects: An In-Depth Look

Research has shown that heroin can deteriorate the brain’s white matter. This adversely affects a person’s ability to make decisions, regulate behavior, and respond to stressful situations.

Once chronic Heroin use affects the white matter of the brain, these changes also cause a greater likelihood of relapse after sobriety has been achieved. Unfortunately, a person who has a long history of heroin abuse is more likely than others to relapse.

Heroin causes a plethora of medical complications. One of the most serious complications can be lung problems such as pneumonia and tuberculosis caused by heroin’s devastating ability to suppress respiration.

Mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorder can also be caused or worsened by chronic heroin use.

How heroin is ingested causes a variety of other specific complications. An example would be people who snort Heroin. Snorting Heroin causes damage to the mucosal tissue in the nose and can also cause the nasal septum to perforate.

Injecting heroin has been known to cause collapsed veins. Also, complications of bacterial infections of the blood vessels and the heart valve. Additionally, injecting heroin causes skin disorders such as abscesses and various other soft tissue infections.

Furthermore, injecting heroin directly into the body and sharing needles causes a range of complications. As a result, hepatitis, HIV, and other blood-borne viruses pass onto both the drug users’ partners and children.

Heroin sold on the street often contains substances that damage the body. This results in the blood vessels leading to the brain, liver, lungs, and kidneys becoming clogged. Frequently this leads to infection of vital organs.

A woman who is addicted to heroin may suffer from infertility, menstrual cycle disruptions, and miscarriage. Those who manage to carry a baby to term may give birth prematurely to an infant with a low birth weight. The baby may also be born addicted to heroin.

Long-Term Use: Tolerance and Withdrawal

Tolerance and physical addiction are common traits of Heroin use. Tolerance happens when the body requires more of the drug to achieve the same effect. Physical dependence refers to how the body adapts to the drug by causing terrible withdrawal symptoms once a person tries to stop using the drug.

Withdrawal symptoms can start anywhere from a few hours after the drug was last ingested and can cause a person to experience restlessness, muscle aches and bone pain, diarrhea, vomiting, insomnia, chills, and involuntary leg movements.

Between 24-48 hours after using the drug the withdrawal symptoms would have reached their peak and may eventually subside after a few days. Unfortunately, for many, withdrawal symptoms can last for months.

Heroin is a highly addictive opioid and is also one of the most likely to result in an overdose. It may be difficult to avoid using due to painful withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

You will, however, find hope for the future and a way out of addiction with the aid of a drug and alcohol recovery center.  At the Retreat of Atlanta, you will be able to detox in a healthy, relaxed atmosphere when working through the causes of addiction.

Signs of Heroin Overdose

  • Low blood pressure
  • Weak pulse
  • Delirium
  • Shallow breathing as well as difficulty breathing
  • Disorientation
  • Discolored tongue, nails, and lips
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tiredness and drowsiness
  • Coma

Heroin Abuse: Other Indirect Risks

To get heroin you need to liaise with drug dealers who are illegally selling the substance. Any exposure to drug dealers whether it be direct or indirect can lead to arrest and other legal troubles and let’s not forget to mention disgruntled drug dealers that can cause trouble for both the user and their family.

Drug driving, much the same as drunk driving can cause heroin users to lose control of their vehicle and not follow road signs. It can also cause a delayed reaction time in the event of a potential accident. Some people who are driving while on Heroin may even fall asleep at the wheel.

Injecting or smoking the drug does tend to reach the brain faster which can significantly increase the risk of developing a heroin disorder. Once this disorder has developed a user will dedicate their lives to seeking out and using this drug no matter what it takes for them to get it.

Our goal is to place our patients in the best facility possible so that they can heal and find long-term healing. If you visit one of our facilities, we will assist you in finding the best program to help you achieve long-term sobriety and recovery from heroin addiction.

Our team is here to represent you. Our mission is to assist you in overcoming the challenges or roadblocks that you can encounter during your early recovery.

Although dealing with some problems alone can be overwhelming, our team can work with you on legal, financial, technical, or other issues. We will assist you in thriving during your early recovery.

Get Help for Heroin Addiction Today at Retreat of Atlanta

At Retreat of Atlanta, we understand the unique challenges associated with heroin addiction. Our facility in Atlanta, GA offers a safe and supportive environment for those looking to overcome their dependence on heroin. We provide customized treatment plans that are designed to help individuals make positive changes in their lives and find lasting recovery from heroin addiction. Our experienced team is dedicated to providing each patient with the care they need to break free from their substance use disorder and achieve long-term sobriety.

Contact our admissions team today to get started on your personal recovery journey.

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