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Long-Term Effects of Heroin Use

long-term effects of heroin use

Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs today, so heroin addiction treatment programs are more important than ever. Heroin abuse is part of the U.S. opioid epidemic, after all. In many cases, people using prescribed opioid medications — such as OxyCodone — may find themselves unable to access prescriptions and then turn to heroin for their fix.

While heroin is illegal, dependence on opioids can increase the risk of engaging in risky behavior. Legal trouble may not be the first thing someone struggling with addiction thinks of first — they’re usually fixated on getting their next dose. Searching for a heroin addiction treatment program in Texas? Contact The Arbor Behavioral Healthcare today by calling 844.413.2690 or reaching out to our team online.

What Are the Side Effects of Heroin Use?

When heroin becomes the primary priority of a person, they’re completely addicted to it — and will behave differently because of this obsession. Apart from scattered drug paraphernalia in a person’s private spaces, these changes in behavior will be the first observable side effects of heroin use:

  • Depression and isolation
  • Engaging in risky behavior, such as stealing
  • Erratic mood changes
  • Missing valuables or money
  • Having legal troubles
  • Lying and secretiveness
  • Prioritizing drug use over obligations and relationships
  • Track marks on the body
  • Using street slang related to heroin

Over time, someone addicted may also exhibit long-term effects of heroin use — usually in the deterioration of their physical health.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Heroin Use?

The dangers of heroin use typically worsen the longer someone uses the addictive substance. Many people struggling with heroin addiction eventually overdose — sometimes fatally. Withdrawal symptoms also typically worsen the longer the person detoxing has used heroin.

Repeated heroin use changes the physical structure and physiology of the brain. This creates long-term imbalances in the brain system that aren’t easily reversed or healed. Studies show that this type of deterioration of the brain may affect decision-making abilities and the ability to regulate behavior and responses to stress.

Other physical effects that long-term misusers should expect of heroin are constipation, insomnia, various lung complications — including tuberculosis and multiple types of pneumonia — and mental disorders, such as depression or antisocial personality disorder. Men often experience sexual dysfunction, and women’s menstrual cycles usually become irregular.

There are also specific negative consequences associated with different types of heroin dose administration:

  • Chronic snorting of heroin can damage the mucosal tissues in their noses as well as perforate their nasal septum
  • Chronic injection of heroin can scar or collapse veins and result in bacterial infections of the blood vessels and heart valves, abscesses, and other infections. Blood vessels can also be clogged in the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain. Immune reactions to these can cause arthritis or other rheumatologic problems.
  • Sharing of injection equipment can lead to some of the most severe consequences of heroin use — infections with hepatitis B and C, HIV, and a host of other blood-borne viruses.

What Should a Client Expect From a Heroin Addiction Treatment Program?

A professional heroin detox program keeps clients comfortable as the staff addresses any physical and psychological complications while minimizing relapse opportunities. When necessary, the medical staff can also provide medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help with troublesome withdrawal symptoms. However, it’s important to remember that detox is only the first step away from addiction and not the cure.

There is no actual cure — there is only the lifelong maintenance of sobriety. Addiction is a chronic disease, which means that treating it is a lifetime responsibility. After detox, clients are often transitioned into further addiction treatment. They can start with individual therapeutic care that will guide them through understanding their addictions and triggers and learn new coping mechanisms that will help them not relapse in the future. Most treatment programs include group therapy and family counseling, as well.

Sometimes, MAT needs to continue while a client is undergoing further addiction treatment after detox — and it may even continue after a client has finished formal treatment. However, a client must also be provided with an aftercare plan before returning to their regular life.

Ready To Learn More About The Arbor Behavioral Healthcare’s Heroin Addiction Treatment Program?

Contact The Arbor Behavioral Healthcare today if you’re looking for a heroin addiction treatment program in Texas. Call 844.413.2690 or reach out to our team online.