Dr. Andrea Middleton - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Andrea Middleton

Is Heroin Bad For You?

Also Known As: diamorphine, H, smack, boy



Short answer

Doing heroin is suicidal - for the body, for social relationships, etc. It is a terrible drug that ruins lives and there is nothing good to be said about it.



Long answer

Heroin is an opioid that is synthesized from morphine. It can be a white or brown powder or black and sticky (known as black tar heroin). According to a survey conducted in 2011, around 1.6% of Americans aged 12 and over admitted to having used heroin at least once. It is a drug that can be snorted, sniffed, inhaled, smoked, or injected, with the last form being perhaps the most common and leading to the intense euphoria sometimes absent from other methods. All methods, however, deliver heroin to the brain rapidly. 

Once heroin enters the brain, it is re-converted into morphine. Once this occurs, the morphine binds to opioid receptors, which are located in the brain stem (the same region responsible for automatic processes such as breathing, blood pressure, etc.). The immediate risk of heroin is brain damage, which includes going into a coma. Furthermore, as the drug affects the part of the brain which controls automatic processes, there is a large risk of respiratory failure. In fact, overdose of heroin often results in hypoxia - a condition in which the victim cannot breathe properly, thus depriving the brain of oxygen. 

Still another risk from heroin is getting HIV and other transmittable infections from using shared needles. Heroin withdrawal is said to be one of the worst (compared to withdrawing from other drugs) and can take hold shortly after one's most recent fix. Symptoms of withdrawal include involuntary kicking, chills, insomnia, muscle and bone pain, diarrhea, and restlessness. Not only can a heroin user go through withdrawal, but symptoms can appear in a child born to a heroin-using mother. This is known as neonatal abstinence syndrome and - along with low birth weight and miscarriage - is a possible effect of doing heroin during pregnancy. One more thing to look out for is that street heroin is often laced with other substances that can, among much more, clog blood vessels.

Possible short-term side effects

  • difficulty breathing
  • hypoxia
  • nausea / vomiting
  • blood clot
  • addiction
  • permanent brain damage
  • contraction of illness from shared needles
  • death

Possible long-term side effects

  • tooth erosion
  • inflammation of the gums
  • constipation
  • cold sweats
  • itching
  • weakening of the immune system
  • coma
  • respiratory (breathing) illnesses
  • muscular weakness, partial paralysis
  • reduced sexual capacity and long-term impotence in men
  • menstrual disturbance in women
  • inability to achieve orgasm
  • loss of memory and intellectual performance
  • introversion
  • depression
  • pustules on the face

Possible withdrawal symptoms

  • restlessness
  • chills
  • insomnia
  • involuntary kicking
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • seizures

Big is heroin bad for you 2

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Written by Jeff Volling | 02-28-2016

Written by Jeff Volling
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