Heroin Side Effects Johnson City - ReVIDA Recovery

Heroin Side Effects Johnson City - ReVIDA Recovery

Heroin is a potent synthetic opioid made from morphine. It is made from the opium poppy plant’s seed pod.

Heroin has analgesic properties and can relieve both mental and physical pain. The results of heroin use are described as an incredible surge of euphoria that promotes a sense of well-being and eliminates anxiety.

Heroin is commonly in the form of a white, brown, or tan powder. There is also tar heroin, which is a sticky black or brown material. Heroin is injected, smoked, and snorted through the nose.

Depending on the method of ingestion, the effects are immediate and can persist for several hours.

Opioid use is prevalent everywhere, including Tennessee. In 2019 the state reported that  70,000 Tennesseans were addicted to opioids.

Many people who decided to try heroin were initially using prescription pain pills. In fact, 75% of heroin users started with prescription opioids. As the opioid epidemic became apparent, legislation moved in to regulate prescription pills, pushing those who were addicted to other sources such as street heroin.

If you are concerned that someone you love may have a heroin use disorder, there are a few indications or warning signs to check for.

Some signs of heroin use disorder may include:

  • Deception
  • Theft
  • Money troubles
  • Erratic behavior
  • Social isolation
  • Wearing long sleeves or pants during the warmer months to cover needle scars (“track marks”)
  • Constantly complains of being sick or having the flu
  • Weight changes
  • Changes in social groups or settings

Learn more about the side effects of heroin use disorder to help you recognize if you or a loved one may have a problem with heroin use.

What Are Some Side Effects of Heroin Use Disorder?

Heroin evokes powerful feelings of pleasure, which is why it is so dangerous.

People can escape reality and dull feelings of emotional and physical discomfort for a brief period.

There are various short and long-term negative consequences of a heroin use disorder.

Although not everyone may experience the same symptoms, we will look at some short-term effects first.

Short-Term Effects

Some short-term side effects can be felt within minutes and last a few hours.

Some short-term side effects may include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Flushed skin color
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Itchiness
  • Slowed speech
  • Slowed breathing
  • Pain-free
  • Free of anxiety
  • Sedation
  • Falling in and out of consciousness

After the initial effects, the person who consumes heroin may be tired and might not think too clearly for a few hours.

If someone takes heroin long-term, there are numerous different side effects from long-term use.

Long-Term Effects

Eventually, the long-term effects of heroin use can cause detrimental issues with the chemical and physiological parts of the brain. Some of this damage may be irreversible.

Some long-term effects can include:

  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Sleep disorders
  • Constipation and other abdominal issues
  • Increased chance for TB or pneumonia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bone-fractures
  • Arthritis
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Irregular menstrual cycles

In addition, those who inject heroin daily may develop more severe health problems, such as infections of the cardiovascular system, bacterial infections, and abscesses.

Heroin’s Effects on Your Brain

Kappa, delta, and mu-opioid receptors are found in opioid-binding brain regions. Opioid receptors influence a person’s pain threshold, mood, behavior, motivation, and reward systems.

When heroin connects to these receptors in the brain, it releases a flood of dopamine. The dopamine flood causes an overwhelming rush of euphoria.

This rush of euphoria is something that the brain stores in memory as pleasurable.

The brain stores information on the good feelings associated with heroin use. Therefore, the longer that you do not take heroin, the more the brain will cause you to want to seek it out.

Long-term heroin use will lead to physical dependence.

Because the body and brain have become accustomed to heroin, they will require larger amounts to obtain the same effects next time.

When a person abruptly stops using heroin, their body goes through what is known as withdrawal. As a result of tolerance, physical dependency develops, and the risk of overdosing increases.

Changes in the brain’s reward system will produce intense cravings despite negative consequences in the person’s life.

If someone has become physically dependent on heroin, they may suffer from some withdrawal symptoms.

Some of the withdrawal symptoms from heroin use can include:

  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Mood changes
  • Sneezing
  • Yawning
  • Chill bumps
  • Intense cravings for heroin
  • Restless legs
  • Watery eyes and nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle aches

Over time, repeated use of heroin can cause the brain to stop producing its dopamine. Dopamine is our natural feel-good chemical. However, some signs that the brain may not be making dopamine on its own anymore may be present.

They include:

  • Depression
  • Lack of motivation
  • Short-term memory issues
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Tremors

The inability to feel pleasure from everyday activities that used to bring happiness can also happen from the brain not producing dopamine anymore.

Many different effects happen in the brain after heroin use. So, let us examine what happens inside the body next.

Heroin’s Effects on Your Body

Heroin is a depressant, so it slows down the central nervous system. As a result, it affects breathing, heart rate, and behavior.

Heroin affects the central nervous system through the brain and the spinal cord. Opioid receptors are in the reward centers of the brain as well.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that heroin causes to be released in the central nervous system. The central nervous system sends messages to various organs throughout the body, and heroin impacts all of them, especially when used long-term.

Heroin can affect the digestive system even from short-term use.

Some effects on the digestive system include:

  • Constipation
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Diverticulitis
  • Bowel obstruction

Heroin use can cause problems with the respiratory system. For example, respiratory depression, slowed heart rate, and sleep disorders stem from long-term use.

There are some damages to the cardiovascular system. High blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, and other cardiovascular diseases can come from long-term heroin use.

Many other areas of the body can be affected by heroin use.

Some physical effects of long-term heroin use can include:

  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Itching
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Cravings
  • Behavioral changes
  • Tooth decay and swollen gums
  • Skin problems
  • Sleep issues and disorders

Tolerance to heroin can build up quickly. As a result, people may often increase their dose levels to maintain the same effects. Unfortunately, this increases the risk of an overdose.

Other Potential Effects of Heroin Use Disorder

Aside from its effects on the brain and body, heroin poses several other potential dangers.

Some possible lifestyle consequences of heroin use disorder:

  • Poor health
  • Weight loss
  • Lower immune system
  • Money problems
  • Homelessness
  • Contract HIV or HCV

Is It Possible to Overdose on Heroin?

When people’s tolerance for heroin is so high that they take big, dangerous dosages, overdosing can happen. This is a particular danger after events like involuntary detoxes in jail. A user may detox over several weeks, be released, and then immediately go back to using the amounts they were used to, which is much higher than their body can now tolerate, resulting in overdose.

When someone takes too much heroin, their breathing slows down. It is as if the body forgets it needs to breathe. As a result, organs, including the brain, are deprived of oxygen. However, more often, overdose from heroin occurs when combined with alcohol. The person will pass out on their back from a combination of alcohol and heroin, vomit, and then choke on their own vomit since the heroin keeps the body from waking up.

Consequently, the brain dies within a few minutes without oxygen.

In Tennessee alone, drug overdoses that involved opioids were 1,307 in 2018. Three hundred sixty-nine of those deaths were attributed to heroin use disorder.

In 2015 the number of heroin-related deaths rose from 205 to 380 in only four years.

It is a good idea to educate yourself on overdose symptoms in case you witness one.

Some symptoms of a heroin overdose are:

  • Blue lips and nails
  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Flushed skin
  • Sweaty
  • Gurgling noises
  • Falling in and out of consciousness
  • Slowed speech
  • The body becomes rigid

If you notice anyone who may appear to be overdosing on heroin, please call 911 immediately.

Medical professionals will have Naloxone (Narcan), which can safely counter the effects of heroin in the body.

By understanding the signs and symptoms of a heroin use disorder, you may be able to address potential heroin use disorder in loved ones. 

Heroin is a dangerous substance.

Thankfully, there are treatment options for heroin use disorder.

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Heroin use disorder does not have to affect your lifestyle forever.

ReVIDA Recovery® offers a heroin rehab plan designed to give you the best chance at success.

Many people have felt the same way you think and have made the first step to lifelong recovery. It can be terrifying to think of withdrawal, but there are ways to ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings.

At ReVIDA Recovery®, we offer a medically assisted treatment (MAT) program that uses therapy and medications to treat heroin use disorder.

Suboxone® will help fight off those cravings and ease withdrawal symptoms so that you can focus on your recovery.

We offer a comprehensive approach to your treatment plan, including MAT, therapy, and care coordination programs.

If you have a heroin use disorder and want to make the first step to a new way of life, give ReVIDA Recovery® a call at (423) 631-0432 today.

FAQs About the Side Effects of Heroin

How does heroin affect your hormones?

Heroin use can lower sex hormones in the brain. This change can lead to issues such as:

  • Depression
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Menstrual cycle changes
  • Weight gain or loss

Is heroin good for stress?

The effects of heroin take away stress the first time someone consumes it. However, many people choose to use heroin more than once. When taken for the second time, additional tension begins to occur. It is more stressful than stress-free when a physical dependence on heroin has developed.

How does heroin affect aging?

Heroin use can cause cellular aging, making you look older much faster. Additionally, heroin use can increase inflammation and stress levels, making you appear older.