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The Long Term Effects of Heroine Use Explained

Are you or a family member struggling against heroin addiction? Regardless of the situation, everyone in the family should know about the long-term effects of heroin use.

Heroin use in the United States nearly doubled over the past two decades. Experts attributed the increase to heroin’s affordability and availability compared to prescription opioids.

As the number of users continues to rise, everyone needs to get proper education on the harmful effects of heroin use. Continue reading below as we break down the long-term heroin effects on the body.

Collapsed Veins

Heroin is a highly addictive substance that comes from morphine. Since morphine is psychoactive, heroin carries its mind-altering qualities. Heroin users either smoke or snort the substance.

Since consumption requires no injections, heroin became one of the most appealing illegal substances around. However, some users still prefer injecting heroin into their bloodstream. Frequent injections can lead to collapsed veins.

Regular heroin injections into the same vein cause its internal lining to swell. After that, it will collapse, causing blood flow through that particular vein to stop.

Once the veins collapse, you will notice discoloration on the injection site. Moreover, you will feel a sharp pain in the area. The veins can recover once the swelling subsides, but there’s a risk of a permanent collapse.


Drug abuse and depression are two different things but they often intertwine. Sometimes, people with depression find solace in taking heroin. However, long-term heroin abuse can also lead to depression.

Regular use of substances can trigger feelings of loneliness and hopelessness. At the start, you will lose your interest in work. You will become more irritable and will have problems sleeping at night.

As your heroin addiction and depression escalates, you may develop severe depression. You will experience delusions and hallucinations. Your behavior will become more reckless.

You may even reach a point where you begin to have thoughts of suicide. If you take more drugs, it develops a never-ending cycle of depression and addiction.

Liver Disease

Chronic heroin use can lead to liver damage. The impact can become more devastating if the heroin user is also alcohol dependent. 

Heroin comes with many additives. These additives do not dissolve quickly. In turn, they clog up the blood vessels that lead to different organs like the liver.

When this happens, the liver is at risk of infection. Its cells may eventually die, causing liver failure and death.

Heart Infections

Heroin can cause heart infections and cardiovascular diseases. As we mentioned earlier, it’s mainly because of the additives that come with the substance. These are toxins and contaminants that do all kinds of damage to the body.

These harmful ingredients can block the blood vessels leading to the heart. Since they affect blood flow in the veins, heroin users develop the risk of having a heart attack. 

Also, there is the possibility of developing the “heroin heart.” It is a type of endocarditis that infects the heart valves. Moreover, it targets the heart’s inner lining. 

Some of the common symptoms of heroin heart include pale skin, night sweating, muscle pain, and swollen extremities. You may also experience heart murmurs, shortness of breath, and significant weight loss.

Pulmonary Infections

Because of the clogging in the blood vessels, your lungs will not get the right amount of oxygen necessary. As a result, you will experience breathing difficulties.

More importantly, you increase the risk of developing empyema. It is a lung condition causing pus to build up in the spaces between the chest and lungs. When you suffer from empyema, you will feel intense pain whenever you breathe.

You may also develop a myriad of respiratory illnesses. One common example is pulmonary edema. It is a disease that causes the lungs to start to collect fluids, leading to respiratory failure.

Another is hypoxia, wherein the body develops sub-par oxygen intake. Before long, your immune system goes down. It will make you more vulnerable to a variety of infections.

Kidney Disease

What does heroin do to the kidneys? For starters, taking heroin intravenously can result in kidney inflammation. When you take heroin via injections, you increase the chances of contracting bacterial and fungal infections. 

Such infections may lead to acute kidney inflammation. Also, you may develop a protein buildup in the tissues and organs where the inflammation is. It may eventually lead to kidney failure. 

Also, heroin overdose can lead to rhabdomyolysis. It’s a serious condition where the muscles break down and die. 

Increased Risk of Contracting HIV and Hepatitis

Last but not least, using heroin increases your risk of contracting HIV. When heroin addicts use as a group, they often share and pass around the same set of syringes. The problem is when one of the users has HIV, they may likely pass the virus to their fellow addicts.

HIV can transfer from one person to another through syringes. The same goes for people with Hepatitis. They can spread the illness in the same manner.

Common Health Effects of Heroin Use

Aside from the long-term effects of heroin use, users will also have to deal with the common effects of heroin. Some of the immediate effects include itchiness and flushed skin. You may also experience dry mouth, nausea, and heaviness in your arms and legs.

It can also slow down your heart rate and breathing. Sometimes, things can escalate fast. Taking too much heroin in one sitting can lead to brain damage or coma.

Overcome the Long Term Effects of Heroin Use

By understanding the long-term effects of heroin use, you will have more reasons to stay away from drug abuse. You will also develop a sense of urgency to save a family member from their substance addiction. However, knowing how to quit heroin is not enough. 

If any family member is looking to get out of heroin addiction, we can lend a helping hand. Connect with us today and tell us more about your situation. We offer substance addiction treatment that will help your loved one get a fresh start in life.

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