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The Dangers of Heroin Addiction

The use of heroin has risen in recent years. Over a million people in the US alone currently use it on a regular basis. However, heroin is rarely used casually. As a member of the opiate family, heroin is one of the most addictive drugs on the market. It’s important to avoid using it at all costs. 

Below is everything you need to know about the negative impact of heroin use and how to access services for those with an addiction.

The Addictive Power of Heroin

Heroin has a depressive effect. It acts on your central nervous system, slowing down brain responses. It can prevent a person from feeling pain, both physical and emotional, and makes it much easier to deal with overwhelming sensations. 

Because of this phenomenon, heroin can become very addictive. The more you take heroin, the more your brain and body become tolerant of it, and more is needed to achieve a high next time. 

Much like any other addiction, a person who hasn’t taken heroin in a while will likely struggle to function without it. They can experience a strong need that makes it difficult to focus on anything else, including taking care of themself, maintaining relationships, and being an active member of society. 

Heroin is very easy to overdose on. Due to its depressive effects, heroin slows down organ responses. A person who has taken a large amount of the drug may pass out and become unresponsive as a consequence of slowed breathing and a very light pulse. 

Physical Effects of Heroin

Heroin has various physical effects, and these can differ from person to person. The most common effects are as follows:

Intense euphoria

As we mentioned above, taking heroin can allow someone to achieve a ‘high.’ The length of these periods will vary depending on the dose taken and the person's tolerance. However, most commonly, they tend to be short-lived. 

Although it may seem appealing, this sense of euphoria comes at a massive cost. While the emotional sensation on the drug may be amazing, the come down and the period before the next ‘hit’ can be incredibly intense in a negative way.


Heroin slows all bodily functions, which can cause its users to experience a drowsy, semi-conscious state. Taking too much can easily lead to overdose, as some people fall asleep and never wake up.

It can be challenging to think clearly on heroin, which often leads to dangerous–sometimes life-threatening–accidents.

Inhibited libido

Heroin is closely linked to sexual dysfunction and disinterest in both men and women. Heroin suppresses the release of certain hormones that contribute to sex drive. Because it slows down the body’s responses, individuals using heroin may experience difficulty with arousal, lubrication, and more.

Stomach issues

Individuals taking heroin may experience nausea or vomiting, both on and off the drug. They may also undergo more frequent bowel movements, constipation, or diarrhea.

These symptoms can make it hard to function outside of the addiction, and the feelings of embarrassment and guilt that arise as a result can cause someone to seek out heroin further. 

Withdrawal from Heroin

When someone comes off heroin, whether by choice, inaccessibility, or medical necessity, the withdrawal symptoms can be incredibly severe and last a very long time. 

These symptoms diminish the longer you go without heroin, as your central nervous system returns to its baseline, but the first few months can make you feel like you’re never going to get better. 

Some of the short-term symptoms include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Inability to sleep
  • Panicked breathing
  • Racing pulse
  • Vomiting

These symptoms tend to occur in the first few days to a week after stopping heroin use. They can be very dangerous depending on a person’s overall health. Medical professionals should be within close range during this period of a person's recovery, providing support and oversight.

The long-term symptoms that can occur after this period can be just as dangerous. They include:

  • Bad memory, both short- and long-term
  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Moodiness and irritability
  • Sudden, sharp, and seemingly unending cravings for another hit
  • Tiredness or listlessness 
  • Unshakable boredom with daily life

Heroin Can Be Fatal

The most concerning aspect of heroin is that it can be fatal. Using it could stop your heart. 

You could also fall into a coma after injecting. The slowed responses caused by the drug can make it very hard to wake up, even when the high wears off. When your body experiences hypoxia, the absence of enough oxygen in the body, you become unable to breathe or think properly.

Overdoses can be treated with a drug called naloxone. If naloxone is not readily available, taking too much heroin could end in death. 

Call JHRC if You’re Struggling with Heroin

Living with a heroin addiction is incredibly dangerous. Reaching out for help immediately is crucial to a healthy recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin addiction, contact Jackson House Rehab (JHRC) today.

If you’d like more information about treatment for heroin addiction, you can visit our website to take a self-assessment regarding your heroin usage. Determining the nature of your addiction is vital to your long-term recovery. Remember, this test is not a diagnostic tool, but it can be a helpful starting point on your journey to wellness.

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