Did you know that around 20% of all deaths related to opioid abuse involve heroin? Heroin is a very dangerous drug for a variety of reasons. If you know someone who is addicted to heroin or if you are addicted to heroin yourself, it is important to get treated as soon as possible before the health effects get worse.
But what are the effects of heroin exactly? How does this drug affect the body as well as the brain? What makes it so dangerous?
Keep reading and learn more about the health effects of heroin and what heroin is below.
What You Need To Know About Heroin
The first thing you should know about this drug is that it is made from morphine. Morphine is a very important drug used in medical settings used for pain relief. It is usually only used for those who are experiencing very severe pain such as pain related to cancer or AIDS.
However, it may also be used to help people recover from invasive surgeries. That way, they won’t have to suffer from severe pain as they try to recover. Morphine works so well because it is derived from opium which, in turn, is derived from the poppy plant.
The poppy plant is a flower that grows in very large quantities in the Middle East and parts of Asia. However, some of these plants are also cultivated in parts of South America and Mesoamerica. Whatever the case, opium has long been known for its addictive properties.
Heroin is a drug that is not used in the medical field at all. It is not only dangerous for its addictive potential but also due to how people formulate it. Often, people add very dangerous filler ingredients to the drug such as cat litter, battery acid, drain cleaning products, and so on.
As you can imagine, introducing these ingredients into your body in any way, even in small amounts, can cause serious damage to the body. Heroin can take many different forms. In some cases, it may come in the form of a powder that is white (or sometimes brown) in color.
In other cases, heroin may even be black and very sticky. Heroin addicts abuse this drug in many different ways. One of the most popular ways is to inject it due to the fact that this would produce an instant high in the user.
Other people may decide to swallow or snort the drug as well. In some cases, addicts may even dare to mix this drug with crack cocaine. This will produce an especially intense high but, as you can imagine, it is also extremely dangerous.
Many people die from a heroin overdose every year. Overdosing is often done by accident. A person may not realize that a certain dose of heroin may be enough to kill them or at least produce very serious health effects.
But what are the health effects of heroin both on the brain and body?
The Physical Effects of Heroin on the Body
The physical and visible effects of heroin on the body may not become prominent until the addict has already been using the drug for some time. Often, if a person has just started to use heroin, it may be difficult for people to know. But as the addition becomes more advanced, the visible signs will start to become more and more noticeable.
For the drug user, the most noticeable physical effect is the feeling of euphoria upon consuming the drug. Heroin is so addictive due to the euphoria it creates. Euphoria is a feeling of extreme pleasure.
It occurs due to the way the drug affects the brain and feeds into the brain’s pleasure centers. This is also one of the reasons why it is so difficult to stop using heroin. And, more than that, when a person stops using heroin, the person will usually go through very serious withdrawal symptoms.
This is due to the fact that prolonged heroin use will keep the brain producing its own chemicals that are responsible for pleasure. When you stop taking the drug all of a sudden, the brain will be completely without these chemicals which will often result in severe depression and anxiety along with a feeling of illness.
Often, the euphoria from heroin is so powerful that it can completely ruin a person’s life even though the high only lasts for a short time. Due to the fact that the high is short-lived but very powerful, it will compel the drug user to seek out more heroin so that they continue experiencing the euphoria as much as they want.
What You Need to Know
The main problem that results from this is habituation. This is when a certain dose of heroin is no longer enough to satisfy the person’s needs and the euphoria is no longer as strong. This will compel the person to take larger and larger doses in order to experience a high that is strong enough.
This is where the danger of overdosing comes in. The body will slowly adapt to these higher and higher doses of heroin. However, these higher doses also become more likely to be fatal to the drug user.
Many cases of overdoses are accidental due to the fact that the person didn’t know or didn’t expect the large dose to kill them. Besides the obvious danger of overdosing on heroin, there are more minor symptoms of addiction you should be aware of.
For example, a person who is addicted to heroin may often have a dry mouth, warm or red skin, experience insomnia, collapsed veins, and so on. Some of the most serious dangers involve damage to the person’s internal organs. Often, the liver will be affected to some extent.
This is because the liver is what filters and processes drugs in the body. Of course, overloading the liver with heroin will start to damage the cells in this organ. In some cases, the liver may even fail due to prolonged heroin use.
This is not to mention that other organs such as the kidneys and heart can also experience problems due to heroin use. But how does this drug affect the brain and mental function of a person?
The Mental Effects of Heroin
The mental effects of this drug can be just as bad as the physical effects. The mental effects tend to get worse as the person continues to use heroin for a prolonged period of time. In the long term, heroin use can actually change the structure of the brain as well as how the brain works.
As mentioned before, using heroin causes the brain to stop producing chemicals that are usually responsible for creating and modulating the pleasure response. For that reason, the brain becomes reliant on the presence of heroin in the body to function. If you take the drug away, then the body will go through severe withdrawal symptoms.
This is due to the fact that the brain has to relearn how to produce those chemicals responsible for regulating the pleasure response. Usually, the reaction to this is severe depression and anxiety. Sometimes, the depression may be so severe that the person may try to commit suicide.
This is why it is important to seek professional heroin treatment. That way, as the addict recovers, they will have plenty of support from trained professionals who know how to deal with these withdrawal effects. Besides these effects, there are also more mild mental effects you should be aware of.
For example, heroin may change the way a person thinks or behaves. In particular, heroin will produce a near-constant craving for more heroin in the drug user. This will compel the person to exhibit drug-seeking behavior.
This may result in the person stealing money from people they know so that they can buy more drugs. They may also start to experience mood swings, especially those involving anger. The person may become very angry for seemingly no reason or they may become angry over minor inconveniences.
Whatever the case, these symptoms only get worse with time, which is why it is so important for a heroin user to seek treatment.
All About the Effects of Heroin
The effects of heroin can be very serious and they tend to only get worse with time. Often, if left untreated, heroin use will lead to a fatal overdose or it may cause fatal damage to internal organs such as the liver. For that reason, treatment is very important.
To learn more about drug treatment, contact us here.