For many people, experimenting with heroin came on the heels of getting accidentally addicted to prescription painkillers. When they could no longer get a prescription from their doctor, or their insurance would no longer pay for it, they turned to heroin in order to get relief from their pain. In addition to that relief, though, there are also heroin side effects that can be devastating.
Short Term Heroin Side Effects
If you or a loved one uses the drug, chances are you’re intimately familiar with some heroin side effects. The most immediate side effect is the pleasurable sensations — the rush — that is experienced once your brain converts the heroin to morphine.
This rush usually includes other heroin side effects such as dry mouth, flushed skin, and a heavy feeling in your arms and legs. Severe itching, nausea, and vomiting could also occur shortly after you take heroin.
Once these effects start to wear off, you might feel drowsy for a few hours and your mental functions will be clouded. Your heart functions and breathing rate can slow — sometimes enough to threaten your life. Permanent brain damage and coma can also result from slowed breathing.
Long Term Heroin Side Effects
Over time and with repeated use, heroin can change both the brain’s physical structure and its physiology. These changes can create imbalances in your body’s hormonal and neuronal systems that cannot be reversed. There could also be brain deterioration that can affect how you respond to stressful situations, regulate your behavior, and make decisions.
Using heroin also produces a significant degree of physical dependence and tolerance of the substance. This occurs when you need increasing amounts of heroin in order to achieve the desired effects. Heroin can also cause physical dependence in which your body adapts to having the drug. If you attempt to stop using heroin abruptly, you could experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. It is highly likely that you will require a heroin addiction treatment center.
Once you stop taking heroin, you could experience withdrawal symptoms after just a few hours. These symptoms include the following:
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Leg movements
- Cold Flashes
- Bone and muscle pain
In many cases, you’ll experience major symptoms of withdrawal for about a week. They’ll peak between 24 and 48 hours after your last dose of heroin. Some people have experienced persistent withdrawal signs for weeks or even months after they last used the drug.
Heroin Use Disorder
Heroin is ingested in a number of ways. Two of them — smoking and ingestion — allow the drug to reach your brain rapidly. This can increase the risk of you developing heroin use disorder. This medical condition is chronic and marked by relapses. It goes beyond being physically dependent on heroin and is characterized by uncontrollable drug-seeking behavior — regardless of the consequences. If you have heroin use disorder, obtaining and using the drug becomes your sole purpose in life.
Treatment For Heroin Use Disorder
If you, or someone you love, has heroin use disorder, attempting to stop the drug suddenly can result in serious withdrawal symptoms that can be life-threatening. Detoxing from heroin should only take place under the watchful eye of trained personnel. In order to reduce the chances of relapse, access to a high-quality drug treatment program is needed.
Oceanfront Recovery, conveniently located in Laguna Beach, provides the small and intimate setting that allows for individual attention. In addition to a stand-alone detox, we offer the following services:
- Sober living program
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
- Traditional residential treatment program
- Treatment program for professionals
- Amenities such as yoga, acupuncture, and breathworks
Learn more about how Oceanfront Recovery can help you by calling us at (877) 296-7477.