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Health and Psychological Effects of Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction can cause long-term and short-term problems.

Heroin addiction can cause long-term and short-term problems.

Heroin addiction results in many major health effects and can affect the brain both physically and psychologically. The drug addiction comes with various long-term effects that cannot be reversed as well as many different short-term effects. The affects of heroin on the central nervous system are felt nearly immediately after heroin is smoked, snorted or injected and may last minutes, hours or even days depending on the potency of the drug, the amount used and the method of use.

Short-Term Effects of Heroin Addiction

Heroin suppresses the central nervous system and causes the body to work slower. Labored breathing is common with heroin use and overdose can result in respiratory failure. Heroin addiction causes the brain to be “cloudy” as a result of slowed mental function, another short term effect of heroin on the central nervous system.

Long-Term Effects of Heroin Addiction

People who abuse heroin are faced with a number of possible health effects including disease as a result of using “dirty” needles, infection, and scarring. Chronic use of heroin most often results in the addict sharing needles between other users and this ultimately results in the transfer of many different diseases and viruses.

Heroin addiction often results in pulmonary conditions related to labored breathing or to infection that arises from the use of heroin. The heart valves or the lining of the heart often become infected as a result of the heroin being circulated through the body and the heart as well as because of the debris or foreign matter that may come from the use of dirty needles or shared needles. The lack of a sterile environment in which the heroin is used a the lack of a sterile way of using the drug results in many internal infections that are very uncommon for those who do not use intravenous drugs.

Many heroin addicts suffer from liver disease as a result of hepatitis C. Statistics show that about 80% of all new hepatitis C infections are the result of injection drug use. Needles aren’t the only way that hepatitis can be transmitted, studies have proven the ability for hepatitis to be transferred through shared straws that are used for snorting heroin as well.

Heroin addiction also results in various skin infections that are often the result of injections gone bad. Those who inject heroin often or for a prolonged period of time may cause damage to their veins and ultimately may have difficulty finding a vein that is not collapsed. Chronic injecting of heroin or other drugs can cause skin abscesses and scarring.

Psychological Effects of Heroin Addiction

Psychologically, heroin addiction causes adverse affects and may result in long term mental conditions that require counseling. Anxiety is not uncommon for heroin addicts and paranoia is also likely. Heroin addiction will result in the feeling that everybody is out to cause problems for the person. A heroin addict may think that everybody is stealing from them or that people are watching them when the latter really is not true.

Mood swings similar to those of a serious bipolar disorder are also common. The addict may be happy one minute and then very angry or depressed the next. This is usually a result of having (or not having) heroin. Heroin addicts show signs of euphoria when they initially get the drug and then over time will seem depressed or sleepy until they use again. Additionally, the heroin addiction may cause the addict to seem fidgety or unruly when they do not have heroin or when it has been a prolonged time since they last used.

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