Physical Effects

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.


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