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Apex Recovery Blog

The Effects of Long-Term Heroin Use

a person holds their head in pain

Along with the feeling of euphoria it produces, heroin misuse also causes a range of symptoms. Although they may not be evident or seem serious in the beginning stages of use, the long-term effects of this drug are damaging to every organ and system in the body.

How Heroin Use Affects the Brain

Regardless of how it is ingested, heroin enters the bloodstream right away and then goes to the brain, where it attaches to the opioid receptors there. Heroin use causes the opioid receptors to become completely overwhelmed, which is why it produces the addictive and intense feeling of happiness. In addition to the positive feelings it produces, heroin can also relieve pain, anxiety, and depression, just as prescription opioids do. However, because the drug floods the brain, its opioid receptors are disrupted and can become damaged with long-term use. When this happens, the brain is unable to communicate with the body and tell it how to work properly. One of the long-term effects of heroin use on the brain is brain damage; the rate of breathing slows down to a dangerous rate that’s enough to rob the brain of oxygen. Heroin’s withdrawal symptoms can cause severe depression, as well as panic attacks, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.

How Heroin Affects the Body

Ingesting heroin through the nose will cause damage to the septum and nasal lining.  Smoking heroin causes various ailments of the lungs, including infections and cancer. Oral health can quickly decline, damaging the teeth and gums. Injecting the drug may cause the veins to collapse, and sharing needles puts individuals at risk of contracting HIV. Heart disease and infections are both long-term effects of heroin misuse. The immune system is weakened, which affects the body’s ability to fight infection. As a result, broken skin from injections may be slow to heal, causing painful abscesses. Using heroin for a long period of time can also affect the digestive system, causing severe cramping and constipation. Diseases of the liver and kidneys and the disruption of menstrual cycles, as well as sexual problems including erectile dysfunction, are very common. Loss of appetite is another result of misusing the drug for long periods of time, which weakens the body further, making it that much more susceptible to disease.

The Effect of Heroin Use on Relationships and Life

A person who has taken heroin and developed a substance use disorder may engage in risky behavior in order to obtain the drug, which can cause conflict in a family, with a spouse, and with work relationships. They may become isolated from family and friends when taking heroin starts to become a priority. Group of men and women during group therapy

How to Get Help for Heroin Addiction

All of the above effects can be devastating, both to a person’s health and to their life, but getting heroin addiction rehab for substance misuse disorder at Apex Recovery can help you avoid these painful long-term effects, repair your body and your relationships, and return to a healthy life. Call (877) 798-4404 for more information.

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