What Heroin Does to the BrainWhen used, heroin triggers the opioid receptors located in the brain. It interacts with the central nervous system as a whole. This drug, which comes from the opium poppy plant, is a Schedule I drug. That means it is highly addictive, and the short-term and long-term effects of taking it are profound. When initially used, heroin stimulates the opioid receptors, creating a feel-good experience. That lasts only for a few minutes. Once it wears off, the brain wants more. Over time, this becomes hard to control, and drug-seeking behavior occurs. Without a men’s or women’s rehab center, it becomes difficult for a person to stop using this drug.
Think Long Term Heroin UseAs dependence on the drug forms, the brain’s chemistry changes. It needs the drug to function normally and seeks it out at increasing levels. A person needs to use more and use more frequently to satisfy this need. What’s more, they cannot control these intense cravings. That’s why for a person who has a heroin addiction, it’s nearly impossible to stop using. That leads to long-term use. The brain is impacted in several ways from this type of use:
- Damage to the white matter in the brain occurs, impacting cognitive function.
- Decision-making abilities change, making work and home life difficult.
- The ability to regulate behavior diminishes, leading to increasingly risky behavior.
- Intense responses to stressful behavior occur.
- Physical dependence occurs when the body adapts to the drug, and withdrawal symptoms occur when it is not used.
Heroin Damage to the BodyWhile much of the damage from heroin impacts the brain, there is also a great deal of risk to the rest of the body. It can cause:
- Damage to the heart’s ability to function and beat normally
- Nutritional deficiencies are common.
- Pain regulation changes, making it hard to know when pain is occurring.
- Hormone release becomes abnormal, leading to other organ failures.
- Kidney and liver damage is likely.