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How Does Heroin Affect the Brain?

Man experiencing heroin's effects on the brain and the body

Heroin is an illegal opioid drug that has been making headlines for its role in America’s opioid crisis. But what is heroin, and how does it affect your brain and body? As with anything, sufficient knowledge is essential if you want to be prepared for a case of struggling with heroin’s effects and overcoming addiction with the help of a professional heroin treatment program. Call 888.341.3607 to speak with someone from Ashwood Recovery’s caring and compassionate staff about our heroin addiction treatment program and learn more about heroin’s effects.

What Is Heroin?

Heroin is a synthetic opioid that is derived from morphine. It can be snorted, smoked, or injected, producing a rush of euphoria followed by a sedative-like state. When heroin enters the brain, it is converted back into morphine and binds to opioid receptors in many areas of the brain and body. These receptors are involved with feelings of pain and pleasure, as well as regulating critical bodily functions, such as the following:

  • Alertness
  • Blood pressure
  • Breathing
  • Heart rate
  • Sleep patterns

It also increases dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pleasure. This causes heroin’s euphoric and sedative effects. Heroin interacts with the body’s reward system by activating endorphins and other neurotransmitters. Eventually, people become addicted because they cannot sustain these feelings without using the drug again. They need ever-increasing amounts to achieve the same high they had initially experienced. This causes them to develop a tolerance and makes them dependent on heroin to feel normal in everyday life.

What Are Heroin’s Effects on the Body?

The physical effects of heroin vary based on how it’s administered—snorting or smoking produces different effects than injection. However, all forms of administration cause the following:

  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Slowed breathing rate

Long-term use increases the risk of getting infected with diseases like HIV/AIDS or hepatitis C due to sharing contaminated needles with other users. People may also experience intense cravings for more drugs even after just one dose due to heroin’s powerful addictive properties. These fierce cravings make it difficult for individuals struggling with addiction to stay sober without professional help.

What Are Heroin’s Effects on the Brain?

Heroin causes brain chemistry changes over time, leading to impaired judgment and decision-making skills, decreased cognitive functioning, and memory loss. Additionally, long-term use can lead to depression, anxiety disorders, other mental health issues, and an increased risk of stroke or heart attack due to its effect on blood pressure regulation.

Some of these changes can be permanent, even after heroin use has stopped. More than anything else, these permanent unwanted consequences highlight the need for professional help. If heroin addiction has become a problem in your life, seek help by calling Ashwood Recovery. The sooner you start recovery, the better your chances of avoiding long-term consequences and living a healthy, addiction-free life.

What to Expect from Heroin Addiction Treatment

Enrolling in a professional treatment program can help you overcome addiction in a safe environment while providing care tailored to your needs. A treatment program like this often includes the following:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Medication management services such as Suboxone therapy
  • Family therapy so that loved ones can learn more about their role during the recovery process

With comprehensive treatment plans designed for lasting sobriety, success rates increase significantly compared to cases where people try “cold turkey” quitting methods by themselves.

Find Heroin Addiction Treatment in Idaho at Ashwood Recovery

Ashwood Recovery’s team of professionals has years of experience dealing with substance abuse cases explicitly related to opioids such as heroin. You can rest assured knowing that you are in good hands when seeking help at our facility for yourself or a loved one struggling with heroin’s effects and addiction. Through evidence-based therapies combined with medical interventions and individualized care, everyone stands a chance of success in their journey toward lasting sobriety. Contact Ashwood Recovery today at 888.341.3607 to speak with someone from our caring and compassionate staff and learn more about our heroin treatment program.