This is a basic explanation for a more detailed review see Heroin in Detail.
Heroin is an extremely addictive drug which is derived from morphine, from the opium poppy. The drug is a “downer” or depressant which affects the pleasure receptors of the human brain and interferes with the perception of pain. Heroin comes in a white or dark brown powder, but can also be tar-like in consistency. Depending upon the preference of the user, heroin can be injected, snorted, smoked or injected into a vein which is called “mainlining.”
The short-term effects of the drug can be seen with just the first dose and disappear within a few hours. If heroin is injected, the user reports experiencing feelings of euphoria or a “rush,” accompanied by warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth and a heavy feeling in the arms and legs. For people who have a heroin addiction, there is a risk of collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, cellulitis and liver disease.
Other complications that may occur with chronic heroin use also include pulmonary complications, pneumonia, and depression, clogging of the vessels in the lungs, liver, kidneys and brain. With regular abuse, a heroin user will develop a tolerance to the drug, which means more of the drug is needed to experience the same initial effects.
At higher doses used over a prolonged period of time, physical dependence and heroin addiction develop. With a physical dependence, the human body adapts to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms happen if the drug is discontinued. Withdrawal occurs as quickly as a few hours after the last dose of heroin and can last for up to a week or more.
There are several side effects a user will experience while undergoing withdrawal from heroin, which include the following:
- Drug cravings
- Muscle and bone pain
- Cold flashes with goose bumps
- Kicking movements
Because a user with a heroin addiction often neglects basic health care needs and is subject to so many infections, withdrawal can be physically demanding and painful. When a heavily dependent user undergoes sudden withdrawal, poor heath or an infection can result in death. It is important when a person is trying to combat an addiction to heroin that medical attention and supervision is implemented to monitor the withdrawal process and administer medical care if necessary.
Heroin addiction is a very serious problem in the United States. If the addiction is left untreated it can result in irreparable damage to a person’s health and heavy use can result in death. There are a variety of treatment options for people who have an addiction to heroin; treatment is most effective if the addiction is addressed in the early stages. Which treatment methods are utilized will depend upon the severity of the addiction and the needs of the patient.
If you or someone you love is facing an addiction to heroin, there is help available. Please contact us today for further information.