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What Are the Long-Term Effects of Heroin?

a person stairs over a railing sadly with their hand on their forehead as they learn of the long term effects of heroin

Heroin is one of the oldest and best-known opioids of abuse in America and worldwide. Today, almost a million people in the U.S. use this drug. Not surprisingly, more than two out of every three of these people are addicted. Long-term use of heroin is a dangerous proposition. That’s true because, over time, the drug can damage your health in various ways. The best way to avoid this kind of long-term harm is to seek an effective heroin addiction treatment program.

Addiction as a Long-Term Effect of Heroin

When you use even one dose of heroin, it alters the normal chemistry of your brain. If you don’t take the drug again, this alteration will correct itself. However, if you keep using heroin, your brain will eventually start to change its response. Instead of restoring its primary function, it will begin to treat heroin like just another expected chemical.

This state, known as physical dependence, is the first building block of opioid addiction. If you keep using heroin, the next step in addiction, psychological dependence, may also appear. In addition, you may develop the involuntary, drug-seeking behavior shared by essentially all addicted people.

Physical Effects of Heroin Addiction on the Brain

Once present, heroin addiction may also be the catalyst for other damaging changes inside your brain. These changes may lead to the following:

  • Loss of the brain matter that supports your nervous system
  • Other structural alterations in your brain tissues
  • An impaired ability to make decisions
  • Lack of normal control over your everyday behavior

Heroin-related brain damage can also make you less tolerant of the effects of stress.

Effects of Long-Term Heroin Use on Your Body

If you use heroin for an extended period, other serious harm may also emerge. These troubling potential effects of long-term heroin use include:

  • Kidney damage
  • Liver disease
  • Infections in your heart tissue
  • Heart failure

Two kinds of major lung illnesses, pneumonia and tuberculosis, are also more common in people who use heroin long-term.

Other Possible Physical Effects of Heroin Addiction

The potential long-term effects of heroin do not stop there. Extended use of the drug can leave you chronically constipated. It can also contribute to the onset of insomnia. Other health issues associated with long-term heroin use include weakened immune function and nutrition problems. Men who repeatedly use heroin may become impotent over time. Women involved in long-term use of the drug may undergo significant menstrual changes.

Effects Related to Your Method of Heroin Use

The method you use to get heroin into your system can also lead to additional long-term harm. The most dangerous route is injecting the drug into a vein. If you use the same vein repeatedly, it may eventually collapse. In addition, the skin near it may start to abscess. These dangers can be a serious threat to your health.

Needle-sharing during IV injection of heroin can expose you to serious, severe, or even fatal blood-borne illnesses. The most alarming of these illnesses is HIV/AIDS. In addition, you risk developing two forms of hepatitis – hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Any of these illnesses can be chronic, life-altering, and deadly.

Learn More About the Long-Term Effects of Heroin at Northpoint Colorado

Want more information on the many long-term effects of heroin? Turn to Northpoint Colorado for a detailed explanation that answers your questions.

Northpoint specializes in treating all forms of opioid addiction. That includes heroin addiction. With our help, you can end your heroin use and stop exposure to potential harm. You can also take the steps necessary to establish a stable, heroin-free lifestyle. Call us today at 970.579.4569 or fill out our online contact form to start the process.