Heroin is a powerful opioid that induces an overwhelming rush of pleasure and euphoria when used. It also diminishes the ability to feel pain. These two effects make heroin a very attractive recreational drug to try. However, it is potent enough to cause addiction even after trying it once or twice—which puts a person at risk of the long-term effects of heroin. Once a physical dependency has developed, withdrawal can be uncomfortable, if not dangerous. If someone is trying to overcome a dependency, starting a heroin addiction treatment program will be the safest and most effective option.
At Fort Behavioral Health, we offer a wide variety of programs and treatments to help patients through detox and recovery. Our master-level clinicians provide support and guidance to give our clients the best chance at sobriety and lifelong abstinence. If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin addiction, contact us at 844.332.1807 to learn how we can help.
How Does Heroin Work?
Heroin comes from the opium poppy and is a very addictive drug that often looks like a white or brown powder or a black tar-like substance. It can be smoked, snorted, or injected. The drug makes its way quickly to the person’s brain, causing a rush of happiness and good feelings. This high makes heroin an attractive drug for people dealing with anxiety, depression, or stress.
However, the effects of taking heroin aren’t all positive. It doesn’t take long for some negative side effects to manifest, such as dry mouth, an upset stomach, vomiting, itchiness, lethargy, or drowsiness.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Heroin Abuse?
Prolonged heroin abuse can change the physiology and structure of someone’s brain, causing emotional and hormonal changes that are difficult to reverse. Heroin can also cause white brain matter to deteriorate, affecting the ability to regulate behavior and make decisions. Apart from these, there are other long-term effects of heroin abuse, such as:
- Increased risk of contracting blood-borne diseases such as HIV, hepatitis, or blood poisoning, collapsed veins at the injection site
- Broken or uneven teeth and gum inflammation
- Cold sweats, itching, skin infections, skin abscesses, or facial pustules
- Muscular weakness, fatigue, or partial paralysis
- Sleep disorders, such as insomnia
- Decreased intellectual performance and other cognitive issues, such as memory loss
- Reproductive issues, such as menstrual cycle disturbances for women and impotence for men
- Decreased sex drive, the inability to achieve orgasm, miscarriage, as well as other fertility problems for both genders
- Digestive problems like decreased appetite or chronic constipation
- Respiratory illnesses, difficulty breathing, or pulmonary infections
- Weakened immune system
- Arthritis, kidney disease, liver disease, or heart disease
- Low blood oxygen, or hypoxia, which can damage the body’s other systems
Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
If someone has been taking heroin for a long time, their body becomes dependent on it. Due to this, attempting to stop taking heroin can result in some uncomfortable side effects, such as:
- Restlessness, insomnia
- Muscle and bone pain
- Diarrhea, vomiting
- Involuntary leg movements
- Cold flashes
The effects of withdrawal often peak between 24 and 48 hours from the last dose and typically subside after a week. However, some patients can have persistent symptoms which last for months. During this time, it can be very tempting to return to use in order to alleviate the discomfort.
Heroin Addiction Treatment at Fort Behavioral Health
Heroin is a very potent drug that can quickly cause a physical dependency, making withdrawal difficult, if not unsafe, to attempt without medical supervision. At Fort Behavioral Health in Fort Worth, Texas, our compassionate and experienced staff can provide the right level of guidance and support for each stage of a patient’s detox and recovery. Our treatment programs are individually tailored to ensure the best chance of achieving lifelong sobriety. If you or a loved one is in need of heroin addiction treatment, contact us at 844.332.1807 today to start your journey to recovery.