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The Cost of Heroin Addiction: Effects on the Body

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The outward signs of heroin addiction aren’t always easy to see. Your loved one might lose a little bit of weight or have some fresh cuts or scabs from picking at his skin, but if he’s hiding the needle track marks or taking the drug via other means, his body might appear normal.

Meanwhile, on the inside, a battle is raging on as the drug wreaks havoc on the brain, heart, lungs and other systems.

How Does Heroin Addiction Affect the Body?

When you’re struggling with heroin addiction, finding the next high becomes all that matters. The euphoric rush masks other changes that are happening to your body each time you use. The drug binds to areas in your brain responsible for releasing natural feel-good chemicals like dopamine and gradually wears them down.

Other immediate or short-term effects include:

  • Blocked pain signals
  • Depressed breathing (sometimes to a life-threatening degree)
  • Rising body temperature
  • Slower heart activity

Your body goes through other changes when you try to go without using heroin. Multiple systems are unbalanced, and as they struggle to begin regulating themselves again, you can experience physical symptoms including:

  • Shaking
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Muscle Spasms

These withdrawal symptoms are rarely life-threatening, but they can make you so uncomfortable that you feel like using again is the only way to feel better.

The Longer You Use, the Higher the Price Your Body Pays

Because heroin changes the way your body works, systems begin to break down when you keep using. Injecting it can pose additional risks beyond the drug’s effects, including infection and disease.

The brain’s physiology changes with heroin use. You can develop neuronal and hormonal imbalances. White matter deteriorates over time, which manifests in changes to your decision-making processes, how you respond to stress and your ability to regulate behavior and mood.

The damage doesn’t stop there. You may suffer from collapsed veins or infections in the lining of your heart. You’re at higher risk of lung diseases like pneumonia. Kidney failure and liver damage can occur.

A whole host of other issues may arise from long-term heroin use, too. These include:

  • Arthritis
  • Bacterial skin infections and abscesses
  • Changes in menstrual activity
  • Gun inflammation and tooth decay
  • Muscle weakness or deterioration

You Don’t Have to Fight Heroin Addiction Alone

Fighting heroin addiction can be incredibly difficult when you go it alone. In fact, nearly 95% of those who try to handle it themselves relapse. The good news? You don’t have to face this on your own.

At Design for Change, located in Lancaster, California, we can provide the education, training and life skills you need to break free from heroin addiction. Our caring, professional team understands that addiction is a disease—not a choice—and our residential rehab center can offer you a neutral, non-judgmental place to begin healing.

If you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction, we understand the challenge in finding the right treatment program. When you need to stage a heroin addiction intervention, we can help with that, too.

Our admissions professionals can help with questions about cost or insurance coverage. Don’t wait another day. Contact us now to begin making a positive, lasting change.

A woman struggling with heroin addiction is oblivious to the damaging effects on the body.