Heroin, along with prescription painkillers, lies at the heart of the nation’s opioid epidemic. Heroin offers powerful pain-relieving qualities to users, along with strong feelings of euphoria. This leads many to develop a dependence, tolerance, and addiction that has cost countless lives and ruined many more.
Most are aware of the risk of overdose presented by heroin, especially when heroin is laced with fentanyl or other dangerous substances. Aside from overdose risks, however, long-term heroin use and addiction presents countless risks and destroys every aspect of one’s health. Here, we look at the most common side effects of heroin addiction.
Physical Side Effects of Heroin Use
Heroin addiction ravages the user’s physical health, due in part to effects from the drug itself as well as the dangerous behaviors that can surround and enable its use. Long-term effects can include:
- collapsed veins
- damaged nose tissue from snorting
- clogged blood vessels due to unseen additives
- possible liver and kidney damage
- infected heart lining
- pneumonia and lung complications
- increased risk of diseases such as HIV (due to unsafe needles)
- higher prevalence of risky behavior
- inability to sleep soundly and regularly
- sexual dysfunction
Studies have confirmed that “individuals who used heroin for longer durations had significantly higher odds of several physical and mental health disorders, including anxiety, hepatitis, and tuberculosis”.
The Psychological Damage of Heroin Addiction
The physical side effects of heroin addiction are numerous and severe, but no less serious is the psychological toll heroin addiction takes on users. Addiction and mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety, often go hand in hand. Heroin users tend to exhibit higher levels of “depression, hopelessness, antisocial behavior and self-harm” when compared with the general population. Heroin’s effects on the brain only worsen such conditions, with opioid use tied to a higher risk of depression. Studies show that heroin addiction is tied to poor health, psychological distress, and suicidal ideation.
Heroin Addiction and Social Health
Heroin’s physical and psychological effects are crippling, with addiction consuming
every facet of a user’s life. Heroin abuse may ruin one’s relationships, with dangerous drug-seeking behavior and the stresses of addiction placing great strain on an addict’s family, friends, and loved ones.
Like any addiction, heroin addiction often takes precedence over an addict’s most valued relationships. The social isolation prompted by this addiction can only worsen one’s psychological condition, leading the user further down the path of addiction. Heroin addiction often leads users to seek out social groups that encourage continued use of the drug, worsening their chances for recovery.
Heroin Use Disorder and Substance Abuse Recovery
If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to heroin, it is vital to seek help from medical experts who are qualified to treat Heroin Use Disorder and similar substance abuse issues. Give our admission specialists a call at (603)339-4160. We can help.