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Heroin is one of the 12 most addictive drugs circulating amidst our population today. It is the opioid of choice for 9.2 million of the 13.5 million individuals using this form of drug.

And it is deadly.

Heroin is highly addictive and it can cause your life to fall into a downward spiral after just one use. But, how does heroin affect the brain, and is the damage permanent?

Discover the risks of this dangerous drug below.

What is Heroin?

Heroin is an opioid, a compound similar to opium that directly influences one or more of the opioid receptors within the human body. Although heroin is derived from the opium poppy, it is considered a synthetic drug due to the various chemicals laced within it.

Users ether snort heroin or inject it directly into their veins using a needle and syringe.

How Does Heroin Affect the Brain?

Heroin’s influence over your opioid receptors leads to a rewiring of your brain and how it releases chemicals. More specifically, it kicks your dopamine production into overdrive.

High levels of dopamine lead to a euphoric high far beyond any natural experience. It is what makes this drug so desirable.

However, the high only lasts a few minutes. Afterward, users are overcome with feelings of fatigue and sometimes a zombie-like state of sluggishness. This after-effect is sometimes considered pleasurable by users as well.

But it comes at a cost. Heroin’s influence over the brain and its highly addictive nature lead to numerous side effects, both short-term and long-term.

Individuals who indulge in high doses or frequent use of heroine run the risk of brain damage. This includes chemical imbalances in the brain which are difficult to reverse, as well as deterioration in the brain‘s white matter.

White matter directly influences your ability to make decisions, respond to stressful situations, and regulate your emotions.

Heroin’s Short-term Effects

Heroin users can experience various short-term side effects from the drug, including:

  • Dramatic Mood Swings
  • A Feeling of Heaviness in Your Extremities
  • Dry Mouth
  • Severely Itchy Skin
  • Respiratory Depression
  • No Appetite
  • Constipation

While these side effects of heroin may be short-term, they are no less dangerous than the long-term effects. It only takes one overdose to kill a user, and this can happen whether it’s you’re a veteran user or it’s your first time experiencing the drug.

Heroin’s Long-term Effects

Long-term effects of heroin include:

  • Vein Collapse Due to Frequent Injections
  • Liver and Kidney Damage or Failure
  • Blood Clots
  • Infections Within the Lungs
  • Possible HIV or Hepatitis from Infected Needles
  • Heroin Dependence
  • Heroin Tolerance
  • Impaired Memory
  • Inability to Properly Process Emotions
  • Poor Executive Function
  • Inability to Make Good Decisions

Some of these long-term effects are permanent, which is why it’s important to cease heroin use.

Seek Help for Your Heroin Addiction

We’ve answered the question “how does heroin affect the brain?”, now it’s up to you to use that information in a positive way.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a heroin addiction, seek help now. With recovery programs geared to help you get clean and reclaim your life. The road to recovery isn’t an impossible stretch.

With the right support, resources, and counseling, you can overcome your addiction. Contact us to begin your admission process today.