Heroin Addiction

Harmful Effects of Heroin

Approximately 4 million Americans try heroin for the first time each year. (Source: NIDA)

Heroin addiction is one of the most powerful and destructive substance abuse conditions that affects the US today. The vicious cycle of heroin addiction, withdrawal and relapse makes a unique set of challenging circumstances from a rehabilitative standpoint. Known infamously for its excruciating withdrawal symptoms, heroin can be one of the most difficult drug addictions to break free from.

Heroin remains at the top of American anti-drug experts’ watch lists as one of the country’s most devastating and powerfully addictive drugs. Recent federal estimates indicate that nearly a quarter of those who try heroin just once, become addicted.

How is Heroin Addiction Treated?

There are several different methods used in the field of opiate rehabilitation to help an individual recover from a heroin addiction.

Commonly, prescription opiates (such as methadone or Suboxone) are used to block the brain’s opioid receptors and diminish withdrawal symptoms. These drugs, however, carry the risk of misuse and dependency similar to the opiates they are being used to treat.

The Narconon treatment protocol is based on a holistic philosophy–an approach which targets the many different aspects of addiction using more alternative and natural methods of rehabilitation. Through the use of supplements, proper nutrition, light exercise and sauna detoxification, followed by life skills exercises, an individual is helped through the course of heroin withdrawal and recovery both naturally and effectively.

Effects of Heroin Use

Effects of Heroin When an individual uses heroin, they experience a sudden euphoric “rush” which permeates the body and lasts for usually just a few minutes. After this, the user may experience a high that can last up to 4 to 5 hours. During this high they will feel what has been described as a warm, drowsy, cozy state. Addicts report a very deep sense of satisfaction, as if there is nothing wrong in the world and everything has been satisfied around them. One might also experience a pleasant state of mild dizziness that is not as impairing as alcohol, with a sense of distance or dissociation from whatever is going on in the environment.

Opiate drugs, including herion, act as a “copy cat” of the naturally produced feel-good chemicals in the body, called endorphins. Endorphins are released by the brain in moments of stress or excitement; they flood the space between nerve cells and usually inhibit the neurons from firing, thus creating an analgesic effect. When the endorphins are doing their work, they make the person feel good and relieve the person from pain.

Opiate use creates an artificial and excessive flood of endorphins throughout the body. This is the beginning of the end in terms of addiction, as the body quickly learns that the only way to achieve the same euphoria experienced with opiates is to take them again.

After many rounds of drug usage, an individual may continue taking the drug not to achieve the euphoric high but rather to relieve the terrible discomforts of heroin withdrawal. Some users shoot heroin throughout the day, simply to avoid withdrawal symptoms. This can develop into a very time consuming habit, and explains why so many heroin abusers are not functional and can only manage to cope with their addiction.

Individuals begin using drugs like heroin to solve a problem or to rid unwanted feelings. Once an opiate addiction establishes itself on a physical level, the problem then becomes the heroin itself and preventing the withdrawal symptoms. This is the beginning of the cycle of addiction and leads to further drug use.

heroin side effects

Some of the short-term side effects that someone might experience when abusing heroin include:

  • Clouded thinking
  • Nausea
  • Severe itching
  • Impaired breathing   

Additional long-term effects can include liver and kidney disease, collapsed veins and pneumonia. Users may contract diseases as a result of heroin injection, experience permanent organ damage as well as fatal overdose. Opiate users may resort to stealing, lying and other such activities just to support their addiction, eventually becoming a liability to everyone around them including family and friends. The guilt of having committed these acts against loved ones leads to further mental anguish and, in turn, even greater degrees of drug use.

Get Help for Opiate Dependency Today

Heroin dependency is best treated with comprehensive, long-term and inpatient drug treatment. The unique biophysical and mental aspects of this particular addiction make it especially challenging for users to permanently recover in programs which grant only 28 or 30 days of rehab.

Narconon is a holistic, long-term residential program that has provided relief to thousands of struggling addicts. Learn more about heroin addiction by browsing our website, or by contacting us at 1-800-468-6933.