How Does Your Body Change With Heroin Use
Many people have a general picture in their head of a typical “drug addict.” But few people actually think beyond this picture and learn about what else can happen to the body with specific drugs and specific side effects. The next few paragraphs will outline how the body changes with heroin use: short-term effects, long-term effects, and more obvious changes that happen with one’s appearance.
How Heroin Use Changes The Brain
The most alarming changes are obviously those that affect the brain. Reports from the National Institute on Drug Abuse find that heroin alters the actual physical structure of the brain and changes the physiology of the organ. Heroin has also been shown to cause long-term hormonal disturbances/imbalances that can’t be undone easily. So, even if a long time heroin user does manage to kick the habit, residual effects from the abuse of the drug may linger on and affect the quality of a drug-free life.
Short Term Effects
Obviously, as soon as heroin is introduced to the bloodstream, the effects are immediate. Heroin users are often chasing--and get addicted to--what’s more colloquially referred to as the “high.” But, once the rush of the warm euphoria passes, the drug causes short-term effects that are more dangerous. These effects include, but are not limited to:
- Warm, flushed skin
- Severe itching
- Nausea, vomiting, appetite loss
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Slow breathing
Long Term Effects
Since the cycle of heroin addiction can be one of the toughest to break, there are many people who suffer from or remain at risk for the long-term effects of such a destructive drug. There is a long list of these and they are all insidious, destructive, and potentially fatal:
- Liver Disease
- Pulmonary Infections
- Collapsed Veins
- Kidney Disease
- Skin Abscesses
- Heightened Exposure to HIV
Changes to Physical Appearance
Many of the effects of drug use are internal ones. Indeed, the “high” most addicts chase after is not something that can be seen with the eye. But that same limitation does not apply to the body changes that happen with heroin use. The drug causes many changes to the actual physical appearance of its users and these changes can be somewhat alarming. These include:
- Inflammation of the gums
- Bad teeth/deterioration of oral hygiene in general
- Pustules on the face
- Abscesses on the skin
- Pockmarked complexion
- Dangerous/alarming weight loss
Body Changes Specific to Women
Because of childbearing responsibilities, women will always have to be extra vigilant about maintaining their health. Heroin use specifically affects women by increasing the chances of infertility. Female heroin users put themselves at risk for spontaneous miscarriages and premature births. By extension, if a female who is actively using heroin gives birth, there is a strong likelihood that the infant is born addicted to the drug and will suffer those consequences, though it be through no fault of their own. So, one person using the heroin is now actually affecting two separate bodies.
How The Body Changes with Heroin Withdrawal
Even after the active phase of heroin use is over, the substance continues to affect the body. The first, most daunting part of recovery can be the withdrawal process. It’s easy to see why this can be the most agonizing portion of the struggle to get clean, when the effects often include:
- Muscle pain
- Bone pain
- Cold Flashes
As touched upon in the previous section, an infant born addicted to heroin is also sentenced to suffer through the same withdrawal process as it’s drug addicted mother. The infant will be treated for many of the same afflictions listed above. This puts an already fragile newborn into an extremely compromised state.
The number of ways heroin can change the body and the negative affects are staggering. For these reasons, it’s important to feel as though you can reach out and get help to start putting your body on a better, healthier path. Combine that with the wondrous ways sobriety will help clear your mind and you have no reason not to pursue rehabilitation. If you or someone you love needs support, encouragement or guidance through the large task of getting clean and maintaining sobriety, we encourage you to contact us here at Spring Board Recovery. We offer a holistic approach that addresses many of the complex issues surrounding addiction and recovery and we’d love to help.