Heroin is one of the most well-known illegal drugs out there. This drug is highly addictive thanks to the effect it has on the brain and the nervous system. It’s also infamous for the increasing number of deaths associated with a heroin overdose.
But, just what is heroin and what effects does it have on the body?
Heroin is an opioid derived from the sap of the opium poppy. It is a highly addictive depressant drug that acts on certain regions of the brain and the nervous system. Individuals who abuse heroin are at a greater risk of becoming dependent on it, addicted to it, and prone to craving the drug.
Once taken – either through smoking, intravenous injections, or snorting – heroin enters the brain where it is converted to morphine. This in turn binds to the opioid receptors in the brain with the affected cells releasing dopamine which results in a rush of pleasurable sensations. This process leads to a variety of other effects on the body which may culminate in loss of consciousness.
The Instant Effects of Heroin
Now that we know how heroin works, let’s see what short-term effects it has.
- A rush or high. A few minutes after taking heroin, individuals are likely to feel an increase in euphoric feelings. This surge of pleasurable sensations is referred to as a “rush” and is often accompanied by relief from physical pain. How strong this high is depends on the purity of the heroin, the person’s physical and physiological state, the dose taken as well as how the heroin was administered.
- The rush is also followed by a warm and flushed feeling, flushed skin, and a heavy feeling in the extremities.
- Nausea, vomiting, and severe itching may occur in some individuals.
- After the rush, the person may feel drowsy or sleepy as the drug produces feelings of sedation and lethargy. Their breathing may slow down and become shallow, sometimes to the point where it becomes life-threatening. In some cases, slowed breathing has led to a loss of consciousness, comas, or permanent brain damage.
- Other effects include a drop in body temperature and blood pressure accompanied by an irregular heartbeat, and slowed brain function and mental capacity.
The thing about heroin is that the high it produces decreases with continued use over time as the user becomes more tolerant of the drug. They then have to take higher amounts to achieve the high and this can easily lead to an overdose.
Help is Available
While heroin is highly addictive, with the right help and support, you can break free. At Impact Outpatient Program in Louisville, Kentucky, we’re happy to provide that help. We have a range of evidence-based programs including our intensive outpatient program and our outpatient addiction treatment program. We also provide virtual telemedicine sessions to clients who aren’t able to make it to the rehab facility in Kentucky.
If you or your loved one is struggling with heroin addiction, help is available. Get in touch with us and our admissions team will help you find the best treatment options that fit your individual needs.