How Does Long-Term Heroin Use Affect Your Body?

How Does Long-Term Heroin Use Affect Your Body?

By In Addiction Recovery, Heroin Addiction, Nutrition and Mental Health
Posted April 22, 2015

What is heroin use doing to your body? What will happen in five more years? Can your body really handle the physical effects and mental changes that come with heroin use?
Maybe you don’t want to think about it now…We tend to minimize the reality of our problems. But the truth is, we need to be aware.

The effects of repeated heroin use manifests on several different levels. Heroin changes the physical structure and physiology of the brain, creating long-term imbalances in neuronal and hormonal systems.These imbalances can be difficult to reverse. Heroin abuse also affects the user physically and puts them at risk for a number of diseases and conditions.

How Does Heroin Affect the Brain?

brain on drugs

Since heroin releases a flood of dopamine in the brain, the natural production of dopamine will slowly decrease, until it is eventually not produced at all. This frightening side effect of the drug makes the decision to stop using heroin more difficult with every day of addiction. What started out as a rush of euphoria, ends in chasing the drug just to feel some sense of “normalcy.” It becomes a bondage that grips users in such a powerful way, few heroin addicts are able to quit on their own.

Studies have revealed deterioration of the brain’s white matter as a result of heroin use. This can affect clarity, decision-making, the ability to regulate behavior, and responses correctly to stressful situations

Where Can I Find Help for Heroin Addiction?

Physical Effects of Long Term Heroin Use

Long term heroin addiction opens the door to a host of physical problems:

  • Collapsed veins due to frequent injections.
  • Hepatitis, hepatitis C2, AIDS, bacterial infections and abscesses of soft tissue due to contaminated needles. Approximately 35,000 new cases of hepatitis C2 develop each year.
  • Mouth and gum disease.
  • Respiratory illnesses and lung complications, including pneumonia and tuberculosis can arise from depressed respiration and weakened immune state.
  • Nutritional depletion.
  • Memory loss.
  • Clogged blood vessels (due to additives) leading to lungs, liver, kidneys or the brain. This can cause infection or death of cells in vital organs.
  • Infections of the heart lining and valves.
  • Constipation and a build up of toxins in the blood and body.
  • Sexual dysfunction in men.
  • Snorting heroin can damage mucosal nasal tissues and lead to a perforated nasal septum.
  • Arthritis and/or other rheumatological problems.
  • STDs can result from an increased number of sexual partners. This can be the result of rape or increased sexual risk taking as a result of heroin use.

Woman laying on floor because of alcohol withdrawal

Heroin Use Can Lead to Cardiac or Respiratory Failure and Death

Heroin effects that involve the cardiac and respiratory systems may be extremely serious or even fatal. In 2002, emergency room treatment was required for over 93,500 medical emergencies stemming from heroin use in over 20 major American metropolitan areas.

Heroin Use Leads to Withdrawal

Heroin use produces profound degrees of tolerance and physical dependence. With physical dependence comes painful withdrawal symptoms when use is restricted or reduced abruptly.

We’ve put together a heroin withdrawal timeline that can help users understand what they are up against when making the decision to stop using heroin.

Get Help for Heroin Addiction Now

If you’re reading these words and you know you are in need of help for heroin addiction, please don’t hesitate to call us. The worst thing you can do for yourself is to remain isolated. Isolation will keep you in the bondage of addiction. Reach out. You’re worth a better life than the lies addiction offers.

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