Side Effects of Heroin | Harbor Village of Miami Florida - Harbor Village

The Effects of Heroin

Understanding Heroin Addiction

As most diseases, addiction is treatable with the right medication and intensive treatment. However, many heroin addicts don’t get the treatment they need because many don’t believe addiction is treatable; in fact, the general public’s governing opinion is that one suffering from addiction is making a willful choice to do so. This is egregiously false. Addiction has measurable roots in genetic predisposition, environmental stimuli, and insufficient life management skills- in terms of coping with traumatic events and stressful situations. Many turn to heroin as a source of escape when they are overwhelmed with emotional strain or complicated living situations. Many turn to drugs as a result of domestic violence, sexual abuse, the death of a loved one, or a number of life’s traumas. The problem with heroin is tolerance is developed quickly, and easily overwhelms new users, forcing them into years of addiction without help. Akin to many illicit substances, heroin’s effects are long lasting after initial use. The drug slowly causes permanent brain damage, and leaves users vulnerable to contracting communicable viruses when used intravenously including Hepatitis C and HIV.

Heroin’s Effect on the Brain

  Because heroin floods the brain with feel-good endorphins the substance is highly addictive, and eventually creates permanent damage. Heroin use disorders left untreated inhibits one’s natural ability to produce serotonin. Serotonin deficiencies cause aggressiveness and depression. In a study conducted by the University of Edinburgh, those with untreated heroin disorders showed signs of early Alzheimer’s, where the average age of those examined was 26. Heroin use, which turns chronic, eventually reduces the brain into a sponge-like state, causing overall weakness throughout the entire body, hand tremors, and random body spasms- making simple tasks like walking exceedingly difficult.

Mental Disorders Caused by Heroin

  Heroin is responsible for contributing to the following mental illnesses:  
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Depression
  • Manic Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Co-Dependency
  • Antisocial personality Disorder
  • Serotonin Deficiencies


Physical Effects of Heroin

The effects of heroin are not contained within the brain, Chronic heroin users suffer kidney failure because of the high levels of protein common after use. Although doctors are not entirely sure why this is, there is speculation revolving bacterial or viral contaminants in heroin which serve as dilutants. Those who contracted hepatitis C or HIV seemed to be more at risk for kidney failure. Those users who are survivors of toxicity and poisoning of heroin (commonly referred to as an overdose) enter a catatonic state can develop rhabdomyolysis; a chemical released during this period of breakdown is particularly destructive to the kidneys. Recovery from this condition typically includes dialysis, or a kidney transplant. Other physical symptoms of heroin addiction caused by heroin use disorders include:  
  • Respiratory Infections
  • Dry Mouth
  • Slurred Speech
  • Hyperactivity Turns to Exhaustion
  • Hallucinations
  • Acute Paranoia
  • Excessive Sleeping
  • Liver Disease
  • Skin Diseases
  • Blood Clots
  • Heart Attack
  • Seizures
  • Cognitive Impairment
  • Contraction of Blood Born Pathogens
  • Overdose
  • Death

Getting Help for Heroin Addiction

Finding help for heroin addiction immediately is critical to making a timely recovery from the disease, before permanent damage occurs. During heroin addiction treatment and similar opiate dependence programs, recovering users learn how to effectively fight off cravings and confront their underlying causes for addiction and abuse. Treating heroin use disorders early on is critical to avoid permanent brain and mental damage. Even those who have not yet developed a physical dependence to the drug will benefit from enrolling treatment for heroin dependence. By catching addiction before it turns into a chronic condition, recovering addicts circumvent treatment expenses, and get help for the underlying causes of addiction sooner, drastically improving the quality of their lives. [get-help]

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