Heroin, an illegal and highly addictive drug, is extracted from certain types of poppy seeds. It is sold as a powder or sticky substance and can be inhaled or injected. The drug, once it enters the bloodstream and reaches the brain, produces a “high” sensation—a rush of pleasure, relaxation, and euphoria.
Heroin use climbs rapidly in the United States each year (there are a little under a million users today), and the effects of the drug are absolutely devastating. Read below about the destructive consequences of a heroin addiction.
Heroin & the Brain
Opium-based drugs like heroin have serious long-term effects on the brain. The human brain naturally produces endorphins and other “pleasure” hormones—chemicals that help us to feel good. Heroin disguises itself as an intense feel-good hormone, and eventually stunts a brain’s ability to naturally produce endorphins. That means a user simply won’t feel good unless he or she has heroin.
Eventually, heroin eats away a brain’s white matter, which affects the ability to regulate behavior, respond well in stressful situations, and even make decisions. Heroin will literally alter the brain, making it more and more difficult for a user to pull away from the addiction.
Heroin & the Body
Heroin can create a craving that is even stronger than the urge we would feel if we were starving and needed to eat. It creates a physical dependence, which means that if a user tries to stop using the drug, the user’s body will go into withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, insomnia, restless leg movements, cold flashes, and muscle and bone pain.
The medical consequences of continuing heroin abuse are severe: everything from insomnia and constipation to depression, sexual dysfunction and infertility, bacterial infections, and lung, liver, kidney, and brain damage.
Seek Help Today
Addiction, especially to a mind-altering drug like heroin, can destroy lives. Many recovered heroin-addicts report that using the drug became their sole reason for living, and that they would do anything to get their next dose—lie, cheat, steal, and even harm people they love.
Because heroin is both highly addictive and destructive, we advise the loved ones of addicts to seek professional help immediately from doctors, counselors, and others who specialize in addiction recovery.
Your loved one’s addiction is not your fault. Talk to a specialist today to learn how you can help your loved one on the road to recovery.