Heroin is an illegal drug that is highly addictive. Some people think that infrequent use can help them to avoid becoming addicted, but this is not necessarily the case. Even sporadic use can still lead to addiction. While the euphoria that heroin produces can be alluring, people should not lose sight of the fact that there are dangerous side effects that can occur even from just a single use.
What is Heroin and How is It Used?
Heroin is a form of morphine. It originates from the Asian poppy plant and often comes in the form of powder. People get high from injecting, snorting, or smoking this powder. Because heroin travels quickly into the blood stream and to the brain, it produces an almost immediate effect. Users, especially those who inject the drug, feel a rush of euphoria along with a warm flush of their skin, dry mouth, and heavy extremities. Once this euphoria wears off, however, their thinking becomes cloudy and they often drift between wakefulness and drowsiness.
The sense of euphoria occurs because once the heroin reaches the brain, it is converted back to morphine. This blocks cell receptors that are responsible for signaling pain and reward. However, it also affects receptors that are essential for life-sustaining functions such as blood pressure, arousal, and respiration. If a person’s breathing becomes overly suppressed, they could die.
The Dangers of Abusing Heroin
Over time, heroin addicts begin to build up a tolerance to the drug. Their highs are not quite as high. They need to use more and more to achieve the same effect, which could cause them to unknowingly or unintentionally overdose. Another danger of using heroin is that it is often cut with other substances during processing. People have no way of knowing how pure the powder is or what other substances may have been cut into it. This can have dangerous results.
Also, when addicts share needles to inject these drugs, they can spread infectious diseases including HIV and hepatitis C. Frequent injections can also cause their veins to collapse and lead to scaring and other complications.
Continued use can result in a multitude of long-term effects including: liver or kidney disease, infection of the lining of the heart and valves, abscesses, constipation, and gastrointestinal problems. Suppressed breathing can lead to respiratory problems and the development of pneumonia or other pulmonary complications. As users come down off of their high, they may begin to experience symptoms of withdrawal, which often leads to increased use and more physical dependence. It is a vicious cycle.
Stopping the Cycle
In order to break the cycle of heroin use, addicts must go through detox. While the thought of enduring withdrawal symptoms may seem overwhelming, with careful monitoring and assistance, doctors can help to alleviate some of these symptoms in a safe way. Once the person has rid their body of these toxins, they can begin the healing and recovery process. Without proper help, they may cause long-term damage to their body and potentially overdose.
It is important that people realize that the risks of using heroin far outweigh the temporary “bliss” they may experience while high. If you or a loved one is battling addiction, Chapters Capistrano is here to help. Contact us today to find out how we can work with you to overcome your addiction to heroin or other drugs.