Effects of Heroin Use and Addiction

Effects of Heroin Use and Addiction

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Effects of Heroin use and Addiction

Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive drug that is created from morphine that naturally occurs in a substance extracted from seed pods of certain poppy plants. Heroin is typically sold as a white or brownish powder that has been cut with starch, powdered milk, sugars, or quinine. Pure heroin is white with a bitter taste, and can be snorted or smoked. However, another form is black tar heroin, which is sticky and coal like and it is typically injected. Black tar results from crude processing that leaves behind impurities. Heroin is so addictive that a single use can get someone hooked and result in withdrawal symptoms if it is not used again. Creating countless heroin addiction problems.

Short Term Effects

Right after taking heroin, the user will get a rush of good feelings and euphoria. They will feel as if the world has slowed down and the user may speak and walk slowly. Some people describe it as being in a dream and use so that they can forget their worries and anxiety. Heroin can also cause nausea and vomiting, itching, and stop pain messages as it slows heart rate and breathing.

After the initial effects of heroin, the person may be sleepy for hours and mental functions are clouded. This paired with slowed breathing and slowed heart rate can lead to coma and brain damage rather quickly. Furthermore, this opioid can alter the activity in the limbic system and alter emotions, making taking the drug more often or pairing it with other substances much more likely.

Long Term Effects: Heroin Addiction

Repeated heroin use can change the physical structure and physiology of the brain to create hormonal and neuronal imbalances. White matter actually deteriorates with repeated use and decision-making abilities are impaired. This includes the ability to regulate behavior and responses to situations deemed stressful. Heroin also builds dependence and tolerance very quickly. This means that more and more of the drug is needed to achieve the same high. It’s a problem because more of the drug also means more of the side effects.


Withdrawal can begin within hours of the last use of heroin. The symptoms can include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes, and more. These symptoms peak around 24 to 48 hours after the last use and can take a week to subside, though some people feel effects for months after stopping.

For some users a chronic relapsing disorder occurs and goes beyond physical dependence. It is characterized by uncontrollable drug seeking regardless of the consequences. This is most often seen in users who inject or smoke heroin as it reaches the brain faster and causes damage at a higher rate, but is possible for all users.

Seeking Help

Heroin is a scary, powerful drug. If you or a loved one has a heroin addiction then seek help immediately. The River Rehab offers an in-patient rehab facility with several resort style locations that can help you not only overcome addiction, but reintegrate back into your life with the tools necessary to stay on the path to long term recovery. It is never too late to seek help, call today.