Originally, heroin was prescribed as a pain medication. However, the addictive properties of the drug led to it being banned in the United States. As with other illegal drugs, heroin can have severe health effects on people who use it. Heroin addiction can negatively affect a person both physically and psychologically.
In addition to its short-term consequences, heroin addiction can also cause severe organ damage. Unlike the temporary effects of using heroin, organ damage is lasting and often irreversible, diminishing a person’s quality of life indefinitely.
Below, we examine heroin addiction and the damage it can do to major organs. Also, we outline how you can address this addiction and change your life forever.
Which Organs Are Most Severely Impacted by Heroin Addiction?
Heroin has profound effects on the brain, especially with prolonged use. Over time, individuals suffering from a substance use disorder can develop an addiction to heroin.
Heroin addiction can affect the human brain in several other ways. The brain will not be able to produce its natural opiates to address pain effectively. Heroin use can also alter an individual’s breathing patterns for extended periods. As a result, the brain and other life-sustaining organs may not receive adequate oxygen.
Most heroin contains harmful additives that the human body cannot process adequately. When these additives circulate through blood vessels connected to major organs, these vessels might become clogged. The clogs can restrict the flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to organs such as the liver, lungs, and kidneys.
As the blood vessels become even more clogged, the harmful effects on these major organs will intensify. Ultimately, individuals suffering from heroin addiction may experience liver or kidney failure. They may also develop chronic respiratory issues.
How Addiction to Heroin Impacts Major Organs
Individuals addicted to heroin will eventually experience clogged blood vessels. The rate at which this occurs will vary from person to person. Factors influencing this include the frequency of use, the volume of consumption, and the concentration of additives in the heroin.
Once the blood vessels become clogged, individuals using heroin are more likely to develop infections. These infections can kill small segments of vital organs.
People who share drug paraphernalia, such as syringes, may endanger their organs in other ways. Specifically, they may contract HIV, Hepatitis B, or Hepatitis C. HIV significantly compromises a person’s immune system. At the same time, the Hepatitis strains slowly damage the liver, which may lead to liver failure.
Other Consequences of Having an Addiction to Heroin
Heroin addiction results in numerous short- and long-term consequences other than organ damage. Immediately after using heroin, individuals suffering from substance use disorder may experience symptoms such as:
- Mood swings
- Depressed breathing
- A feeling of heaviness or lethargy
- Severe itching
- Dry mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Skin flushing
These symptoms can often last for hours. Symptoms such as constipation or mood swings can last for several days after a single use. Fortunately, these symptoms will subside following detox.
Prolonged heroin addiction can cause individuals to experience severe and lasting symptoms. Some of the most notable consequences include:
- Lung infections
- Hepatitis B or C, from sharing contaminated equipment
- Blood clots
- Collapsed veins
Of these consequences, overdoses are one of the most concerning. An individual could experience an overdose their first-time using heroin. However, the risk of overdose increases as people develop a tolerance. The more frequently they use heroin, the more they need to use larger quantities of heroin to achieve euphoria.
How to Address the Risks of Becoming Addicted to Heroin
The only concrete way to protect yourself from the risks of heroin addiction is to start your journey toward recovery. Ending your heroin use can help you reduce the severity of short-term consequences. Achieving sobriety will also prevent significant organ damage or stop the progression of this damage if it has already begun.
With that being said, overcoming heroin addiction is a challenging process that’s difficult to navigate alone. Fortunately, you don’t have to do this by yourself. By partnering with an experienced addiction treatment center like Desert Cove Recovery, you can lay the foundation for lasting recovery.
Our experienced team uses innovative techniques and traditional therapeutic interventions to help you beat your heroin addiction. To learn more or enroll in our program, contact Desert Cove Recovery today.