The Short & Long-Term Effects of Heroin Use
There are many short and long-term effects of heroin abuse, both physical, psychological and behavioral in nature. The longer a person abuses heroin the more difficult it becomes to quit. However, this doesn’t mean recovery is impossible — it simply means a more intensive program of treatment will be necessary. As soon as heroin enters the brain it converts back to morphine and binds with opioid receptors, slowing down the central nervous system (which in turn slows down vital functions like heart rate, breathing and stress response).
Common Short-Term Effects of Heroin Use Are:
- A warm flushing of the skin, an increase in body temperature.
- A heavy feeling in the extremities/sluggishness.
- Excessive drowsiness/an inability to stay awake.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Dry mouth.
- Slowed breathing/respiratory depression.
- Slowed cognitive function which can lead to a lack of coordination.
- Risk of overdose and overdose-related death.
Common Long-Term Effects of Heroin Use Are:
- The development of physical and psychological dependence.
- The development of a physical tolerance, meaning more heroin is required in order for the desired effects to be produced.
- Withdrawal symptoms, which occur when heroin use is stopped abruptly. A range of serious personal consequences, including legal issues, financial insecurity, health problems and issues in interpersonal relationships.
- Serious health issues depending on the severity of the addiction and the method of ingestion (for example, lung damage if heroin is being smoked or abscesses/skin infections if heroin is being used intravenously).
NIDA reports, “Studies have shown some deterioration of the brain’s white matter due to heroin use, which may affect decision-making abilities, the ability to regulate behavior, and responses to stressful situations.” Fortunately, the majority of short and long-term consequences of heroin use can be reversed with prolonged sobriety.
How to Help Someone Who is Using Heroin
How can you help someone who is addicted to heroin and who repeatedly refuses help? You might feel as if you are at your wit’s end; nothing is working, not begging, pleading, setting boundaries or giving ultimatums. If you have seemingly run out of options, we suggest staging a professional intervention. At CuraSouth we work directly with several professional interventionists in Tampa, Florida and surrounding areas. We are happy to put you in touch with someone who knows how to get the ball rolling. to learn more.