Long Term Effects
Perhaps the most detrimental effect of heroin is the addiction itself. Heroin Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease, characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, and by neurochemical and molecular changes in the brain.
Heroin is a highly addictive drug; the body becomes accustomed to the presence of the drug and tolerance develops, meaning higher doses of the drug are required to achieve the same effect. Therefore, reducing intake or completely stopping use of the drug will result in a number of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Various health complications can arise as a result of prolonged use of heroin. A common complication that individuals who inject heroin experience, is collapsed veins, which occurs as a result of the strain veins experience through constant injecting.
Abscesses and skin infections can also occur, especially amongst those who frequently inject the drug. Other complications experienced regardless of the method of intake can include infection of the heart valves and lining, and liver disease.
The general poor health of a heroin user can lead to pulmonary complications, such as pneumonia and tuberculosis, and can also lead to the individual experiencing depression of breathing, which in some cases can result in respiratory failure and death.
The fact that heroin is very rarely taken in its “pure” form, and is often cut with other substances can also have health implications.
The additives used whilst cutting the drug may often not dissolve, which can result in the blood vessels that lead to major organs becoming clogged. This can lead to infection in the lungs, liver, kidneys or brain which may result in these organs beginning to fail.
Those heroin users who fail to use sterile equipment, or share equipment, are also putting themselves at greater risk of blood-borne infections.
These can include HIV, Hepatitis B and C, which can in turn be passed on to their sexual partners and children.
Heroin can also cause feelings of depression, which may last for several weeks at a time.
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