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What Are the Dangers of Heroin?

a young woman leans her head on window looking upset after realizing the dangers of heroin

For the last several decades, people across the United States and here in New Hampshire have struggled with heroin use, addiction, and opiate-related death. Unfortunately, the country is in an opiate and opioid epidemic that includes heroin. Contrary to popular belief, heroin users often maintain relatively everyday lives, including school, employment, and families. Like other drugs in the opiate family, heroin is incredibly difficult to stop taking without heroin addiction treatment.

If you or someone you love is struggling with heroin, don’t quit cold turkey. The team at A Better State can help. Our holistic, trauma-informed outpatient treatment center helps clients across New Hampshire recover from heroin use and addiction. Call us now at 781.412.1488 to learn more about the dangers of heroin and find the right treatment plan for you.

Understanding the Dangers of Heroin Abuse and Addiction

Initially, heroin was developed at the turn of the 20th century for hospital use. It is a semi-synthetic opiate made from the opium poppy. Like opium, it’s known for pain relief and euphoric experiences. Now illegal, other opiates and opioids have replaced heroin for medical use. This illicit drug can only be purchased through the illegal drug trade, meaning someone may never know what is in a dose or how strong it is. People inject or smoke heroin for an instant high. However, a dose also contains fillers and other drugs that are used to reduce manufacturing costs, making a dose more potent and addictive.

The Physical Effects of Heroin

When heroin enters the bloodstream, it turns into morphine, stopping pain and releasing dopamine for an intense sense of euphoria. A dopamine release causes a “dopamine reward effect,” making someone crave dopamine and increase use. While heroin may temporarily help with chronic or acute pain, in the long term, heroin use can make symptoms worse. Side effects of heroin include:

  • Confusion
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Memory problems
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Shaking
  • Chills
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Intense cravings
  • Slow heart rate
  • Drug and alcohol cravings
  • Self-harming behavior
  • Delusions
  • Trouble breathing
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Changes in sleep
  • Changes in hygiene
  • Paranoia
  • Organ damage
  • Brain damage

Heroin slows down every system in the body. During an overdose, someone may lose consciousness, and their heart or lungs may stop working. Without medical attention, overdose often leads to death. Smoking and injecting heroin can have irreversible physical effects like collapsed veins, tooth decay, and lung damage. The more often someone uses heroin, the higher their tolerance will become. This means someone will need more heroin to achieve the same level of pain relief and euphoria. Over time, heroin changes a person’s brain chemistry, making it difficult to quit without medication management and psychiatric support.

Get Help for Heroin Addiction at A Better State

Many people self-medicate and self-soothe with heroin. Whether someone is struggling with chronic pain, opioid addiction from prescription drugs, co-occurring disorders, or unprocessed trauma, heroin addiction is common. Opiates like heroin provide a physical and mental escape from various kinds of pain. At A Better State, we believe in helping clients get to the root cause of heroin addiction.

Our flexible outpatient program emphasizes holistic, trauma-informed treatment and provides the care and support clients need to recover. With a combination of evidence-based and alternative therapies, we have a program to help you recover from the physical side effects of heroin and regain control of your life. If you and your loved ones use heroin, know you are not alone. Contact the team at A Better State now at 781.412.1488 to learn more about the dangers of heroin and our addiction treatment programs.