Heroin use is an extremely deadly and addictive opioid drug that can lead to severe short term and long term effects. This includes personal, financial, and social changes. Unlike traditional prescription drugs/opiates, heroin is not only a very dangerous and harmful drug that often brings about chronic addiction, and death via overdose, it is also an illegal drug that can put the unfortunate user in serious legal duress.
Below, we want to explore the short term and long term effects of heroin use.
Short Term Effects
The addictive nature of heroin is due to its ability to create very intense pleasurable and EUPHORIC feelings. Heroin does this by binding to opioid receptors in the body. Once this binding takes place, a neurotransmitter called dopamine is released into the blood stream. Dopamine mediates a feeling of pleasure, a high if you will, that is rewarding and feels good to the user. This dopamine high will decrease with continuous use of heroin, as the user becomes tolerant of the drug. In order to repeat this high sensation, more of the drug is required.
Thus begins a reinforcing feedback system that can be somewhat easily treated at the beginning stages, but continuous use can lead to long-term effects.
Some of the short-term effects of heroin are:
- A “rush” which is a strong increase in euphoric feelings
- Feelings of being warm and flushed
- Heavy sensation in the extremities
- Reduced sensation of pain
- Sedation and Relaxation
Long Term Effects
People with chronic use of heroin over time may often experience:
- Damaged teeth and gum swelling
- Damaged skin from scratching
- Severe constipation
- Increased susceptibility to diseases from weak immune system
- Weakness and sedation
- Poor appetite and malnutrition
- Sleeping problems
- Decrease in sexual functioning
In addition to the above, long-term chronic heroin use can often times leads to dependency and addiction of the drug. It is not uncommon for people addicted to heroin to suffer consequences to their personal life such as financial issues, relationship turmoil, school or employment troubles, and legal troubles.
We Can Help
If you or a loved one are addicted to heroin use, prescription pain medications, or any other narcotics, we can help! Please pick up the phone and call us at Scottsdale Internal Medicine today.