What are the Long Term Effects of Heroin Abuse?


long term effects of heroin abuse

Heroin is a highly addictive illicit drug considered one of the most dangerous substances on the market. Using heroin can lead to many short and long-term complications. People who use heroin risk permanent damage to their physical, emotional, and behavioral well-being.

If you or someone you love use heroin and need help to regain control, reach out to the caring specialists at Moving Mountains Recovery to learn about our holistic treatment programs. Help is just a call away.


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What is Heroin?

Heroin is an illicit drug created from morphine, a derivative of the opium found in the poppy plant. Heroin is available in several forms, including a white or brown powder and black tar. People use heroin by snorting it, injecting a liquid form, or smoking it.

Heroin causes an almost instant hit of pleasure, relaxation, and euphoria. The drug affects the pleasure and reward centers of the brain, making it highly addictive. People who use heroin can develop dependence and addiction quickly. Heroin addiction is tough to treat, but comprehensive support and treatment can help people put their addiction behind them and move forward.

Even after people stop using heroin, they may experience the long-term effects of heroin abuse for a long time. Early access to treatment and ongoing support is essential to long-term recovery and management of lingering side effects.

The Risks of Heroin Use

Heroin use can cause immediate harm to your health and safety. The short-term effects of heroin use include:

  • Sleepiness
  • Trouble with thinking, memory, and focus
  • Heaviness in the arms and legs
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Itching
  • Slow heart rate and breathing
  • Nodding off

Deadly heroin overdose can also occur. Combining heroin and other substances can be immediately life-threatening.

The Long-Term Effects of Heroin Abuse

Heroin use can result in a wide array of adverse consequences and can develop into a life-threatening addiction. Over time, people may find that they need to use more heroin to get the pleasurable effects they desire–this is a signifier of tolerance.

Tolerance can create a cycle of needing more and more over time, which can cause dependence and addiction.

People who use heroin regularly are at risk of the short-term consequences of heroin abuse, but also face the long-term effects of heroin use. These are extensive and include the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Infections of the heart’s lining and valves from using dirty needles
  • Abscesses
  • Chronic, severe constipation
  • Pneumonia and other lung diseases
  • Mental health conditions like depression and antisocial personality disorder
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Irregular periods

The way people use heroin can affect what long-term effects of heroin use they may experience. For example, people who inject heroin are more likely to sustain tissue damage and infection, heart disease, and abscesses. Those who snort heroin may be at increased risk of erosion of the facial tissues.

Heroin users are also at risk of contracting blood-borne diseases, including HIV and Hepatitis C, if they share needles.

Signs of Heroin Abuse and Addiction

Heavy or regular periods of heroin abuse change the brain’s physical structure and chemical makeup. These changes make it nearly impossible for someone to stop using heroin, even as they face worsening consequences of their substance abuse. If someone stops using heroin suddenly, they will likely experience brutal withdrawal symptoms. Often, the extreme discomfort of heroin withdrawal pushes people to use the drug again.

Getting treatment as early as possible is the best way to avoid the long-term effects of heroin use. Recognizing a problem is the first step toward getting the help you need.

Some of the signs of heroin abuse and addiction include:

  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Severe fatigue
  • Depression
  • Insomnia or significant sleep disruptions
  • Isolating from friends and family
  • New or worsening relationship strain
  • Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home
  • Pneumonia or tuberculosis

If you notice these signs in yourself or others, seek treatment immediately. You do not have to live with addiction. Treatment can help you address heroin addiction’s physical, emotional, and behavioral aspects and move toward a healthier future.

Comprehensive heroin addiction treatment programs use evidence-based and holistic therapies to help people heal from addiction and adopt new, healthy routines that support lifelong recovery. Many begin in a medically-supported heroin detox program before moving on to a treatment program that includes therapy, medications, support, and lifestyle changes to improve health in recovery.

Get Help Now

Heroin abuse and addiction can wreak havoc on your life. Living with an untreated addiction robs you of your health, relationships, and future. Don’t live with your substance abuse–fight for your life and get the help you deserve.

At Moving Mountains Recovery, we offer holistic, supportive addiction treatment programs designed to help people thrive in recovery. Our focus on whole-self healing means you can put addiction behind you, find a new purpose in life, and make connections that will last a lifetime.

Don’t wait for another day to go by. Reach out today to learn about your heroin rehab options and get started.

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