Health Effects

Health Effects Addiction Treatment
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Heroin is known to be one of the most addictive drugs with both short-term and long-term health effects.

Regardless of the method of use, the drug will begin to have an effect on the central nervous system immediately after it is used. Heroin is usually injected, the preferred method of use by 70 percent of addicts. Snorting and smoking are other methods of heroin use.

  • The drug has an immediate effect on the body after it is used.
  • More than 80 percent of heroin addicts abuse the drug to achieve desired effects that are felt right after use
  • Heroin addictions are becoming common in younger people. It is estimated that 12 percent of high school students have used heroin at least one time

Short-Term Effects

After the person uses the drug, they will almost immediately feel a sense of euphoria. This is exhibited with a warm flushing of the skin, the feeling that arms and legs are heavy and a dry sensation in the mouth.

When the initial rush of the drug passes, users will enter a state of drowsiness combined with periods of wakefulness. This is referred to as on the “nod.”

Heroin suppresses the central nervous system and users will experience cloudy thought patterns and slowed mental responses. Breathing rates will begin to slow down and it is possible for users to go into respiratory failure. Of the deaths that are associated with heroin addiction, 15 percent are related to respiratory failure.

Long-Term Effects

When an addiction to heroin is formed, users will abuse the drug and use it repeatedly. This chronic use can lead to long-term and serious health effects. Based on a study, it has been revealed that 60 percent of heroin addicts do not use sterile techniques when using the drug and many will share equipment, such as needles. These practices can lead to many long-term effects, including:

  • The development of infections in the lining of the heart and heart valves.
  • Liver disease. Each year, 70 percent of hepatitis C infections in the United States are a direct result of drug use by injection.
  • Kidney disease.
  • Infections that cause pulmonary complications.
  • Skin infections caused from collapsed veins when heroin is injected.
  • Increased risk of contracting HIV and other viruses.
  • In the US, 18 percent of HIV cases are linked to heroin use.


An overdose is the most serious heroin addiction risks.

Twenty percent of heroin-related deaths are the result of accidental overdoses. There are various reasons for an overdose. In many cases, about 40 percent, the overdose is a result of the addict needing more of the drug to achieve the desired effects. The remaining percentage is due to the potency of the drug which is often unknown. When heroin is sold on the street, users are unaware of what they are actually getting and do not know how pure it is.

Heroin is often mixed with other ingredients when sold on the street.

  • Sugar, starch, strychnine and quinine have been found in street heroin samples.
  • Added poisons in heroin can increase the risks associated with use and can be fatal.
  • Users who are unaware of the origin of the drug are at a 70 percent higher risk of accidental overdose and death.

Additional Concerns

Aside from the short- and long-term effects, heroin produces other effects that place users at risk. Many additives that are found in street heroin can cause health complications in users outside of the expected health effects that have been mentioned. Studies have shown that heroin that is not pure will increase the chances of the user developing blood clots and blood vessel clogs. The vessels that are affected lead to the liver, kidneys, brain and lungs. When this happens, the addict has a 60 percent higher chance of getting a severe infection that can be fatal.

Reports from the Drug Abuse Warning Network have ranked heroin as being the second most frequently mentioned drug in all drug-related deaths.

In just five years, between 1990 and 1995, the number of heroin-related episodes doubled. Since that time, the numbers have tripled. Heroin not only causes damage to the cells in the brain, but it is also one of the leading causes of pulmonary and renal failure. You can get help through a drug treatment Facility today.


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