What Does Heroin Do to Your Body? Short & Long-Term Effects

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Updated 12/16/2020

Heroin is a highly addictive opioid drug that can wreak havoc on your body even after just one hit. With repeated use, heroin can destroy brain cells and have detrimental effects on your overall health and wellbeing.

While you might not be able to see what is happening on the inside of your body, that does not mean serious changes are not happening on a physiological level. Many of the consequences done to your body through drug use may even be impossible to reverse, depending on the frequency and duration of your drug habit.

How, exactly, does heroin use effect your body?

Short-Term Effects of Heroin Use

Obviously, the immediate effects of heroin use are feelings of elation and the suppression of any pain. That is a result of heroin being converted into morphine – a well-known pain-killer – which seeks out opioid receptors in the brain. Along with that initial rush of pleasurable feelings comes a slew of physical symptoms, such as:

  • Flushing of the skin
  • Dry mouth
  • Feeling of heaviness in the arms and legs
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Itchiness
  • Brain fog
  • Drowsiness

As the rush starts to fade, more serious physical side effects typically occur over the short term, including slowed heart rate and breathing. These symptoms can be dangerous and can send a user into a coma or overdose. Brain damage can also be a result of heroin use, even after just a few hits.

Long-Term Effects of Heroin Use

Using heroin comes with a host of symptoms that take effect right away. But long after the rush has gone, the body and brain are left with a host of long-term effects, some of which may cause irreversible impairment depending on the extent of the damage.

Using heroin repeatedly over time can alter the physiology of the brain, resulting in neurological and hormonal imbalances that may be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse. The white matter of the brain deteriorates after repeated heroin use. Thus, users typically have a difficult time making decisions, controlling their behavior, and dealing with stress.

In addition to the constant dependence on the drug and the perpetual need to use, physical long-term effects of heroin use include:

  • Scabs on the skin from constant scratching
  • Swollen gums
  • Rotting teeth
  • Constipation
  • Weak immune system
  • Insomnia
  • Malnutrition

If heroin use suddenly stops, severe withdrawal symptoms occur within a few hours after cessation of drug use. Such withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diahhrea
  • Cold flashes
  • Bone pain

Can Damage Caused by Heroin be Reversed by Going to Ohio Drug Rehab?

While physical symptoms like skin scabs can heal, other side effects of drug use can be tough to repair. Depending on how long and how much a person has been using, harm caused to the brain may be irreversible.

Research has shown that brain damage is the main consequence of using heroin. However, there is not much evidence about damage to the brain caused by heroin use and the extent to which it may be reversible. Yet, while addiction is a chronic disease that never really goes away, it is still manageable with the help of interventions including cognitive therapy and medication.

Advances in the medical field have been instrumental in finding ways to repair brain damage caused by heroin use, and Ohio drug rehab is the first step on the path to improving overall brain health. In fact, many people overcome heroin addiction as a result of Ohio drug rehab and go on to live full, rewarding lives.

If you are currently battling heroin addiction and need help, contact

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