What Happens to Your Body When You Are Addicted To Heroin
Heroin addiction has been a societal problem in the United States for decades. Heroin addiction is on the rise in rural areas across the country, and law enforcement officials as well as healthcare providers are scrambling to address what is seen as an epidemic. The social issues related to heroin addiction are often focused on crime, but let’s take a closer look at a different impact — the medical effects of heroin addiction on the human body.
Heroin Addiction Causes Brain Damage
While that subheading may sound like hyperbole, it is accurate. Using heroin impacts your brain, first and foremost. Heroin is an opiate, in the same category of substances as morphine and opium, and is classified as a narcotic. When you use heroin, it enters the brain and binds to specific receptors that manage pain and pleasure, and also ones that control blood pressure and breathing. That’s why heroin overdoses are often fatal — too much heroin overwhelms these receptors and causes you to stop breathing.
In addition, the way in which you get heroin into your system impacts your body:
- Injecting heroin makes you vulnerable to infections or abscesses due to needle use
- If you share needles, you increase the possibility of exposure to blood-borne diseases, including HIV, AIDS and hepatitis
- Snorting heroin causes damage to the nasal passages and sinuses, resulting in frequent nosebleeds and ulcerated mucus membranes
- Smoking heroin impacts the trachea, bronchi and lungs. Coughing and frequent respiratory infections are the result.
Heroin addiction also impacts your body in other ways:
- Your immune system gets compromised and you tend to be more susceptible to infections and diseases
- Heroin addicts tend to experience a roller coaster of gastrointestinal issues — nausea, vomiting, constipation and diarrhea are all common parts of the addiction syndrome
- Studies have shown that heroin addiction impacts intellectual functioning, causing impairments to decision-making and memory
Heroin addiction is hard on you from head to toe, inside and out. If you are struggling with heroin addiction, seek medical attention. Withdrawal from heroin is a serious and at times complicated medical issue requiring supervision and support. Get help, and get clean. It might not be easy, but it will be worth it.