Out of all the drugs that can harm your body, heroin is one of the worst. What heroin does to you is nothing short of gruesome, and some of the effects of heroin addiction can be irreversible. So what are the physical effects of heroin addiction, in both the short term and the long term?
The things that happen when you're addicted to heroin range from a little distressing to downright horrifying. Sure, having some issues with erections or focus don't sound so bad, but what about organ failure, thoughts of suicide, and much higher chance of STDs? And let's not forget, even if you quit the effects of heroin withdrawal on your body can be devastating. Seriously, it's not pretty.
So let's dive deep and find out exactly what heroin addiction does to you. Hopefully, you'll be convinced that it's not worth trying for yourself.
Once heroin passes into your brain and body, it makes you feel all kinds of sleepy. You'll feel warm all over, your mouth will get dry, and suddenly, moving will feel difficult. In particular, you may feel heaviness in your extremities that leaves you draped over a chair, lying in a corner, or unable to rise from bed. Addicts, however, come to accept this sensation, and it becomes a well-loved part of the experience. Some say it's like dreaming while awake.
The longer you use the drug, however, the more this sensation of heaviness plagues you. Even when not taking heroin it may feel difficult to get up or move. Part of this has to do with a loss of weight and musculature that comes with long term use of the drug.
Besides making you feel sluggish, heroin slows down your actual body operations as well. Your heart rate, your breathing, even the speed at which your brain processes information will all become slower, which is part of what makes you feel sleepy. This happens because heroin acts as a depressant, like alcohol but much stronger.
This slowing of your body is what makes the drug so dangerous. Heroin is easy to overdose on because a relatively small amount of it can cause your body to slow down to the point where it just stops working. Your heart may stop beating, or your brain may suffer damage from a lack of oxygen as your lungs stop expanding and contracting at a useful rate.
Whether you're an abuser or a first time user, this kind of overdose is always possible. Over long term use, however, you're more likely to up your doses to unsafe levels, leading to your eventual demise.
Sexual dysfunction doesn't just refer to an occasional difficulty getting it up. Over time, you will find that you're not able to engage in sexual activity for as long, and that you crave it less frequently. You may find you're physically unable to become aroused. With long enough abuse, men can find themselves impotent and unable to bare children. This happens because the part of the brain that regulates your sex drive and sexual organs can be damaged permanently by the drug, leaving your body simply unable to compensate. You may even be unable to experience orgasms anymore.
This can be even more drastic for women. Pregnant women can suffer spontaneous miscarriages, and they may find they are no longer able to bear children at all. Your menstrual cycle will also become irregular, bringing with it painful cramps and anemia.
Although your brain is probably the most impacted, the rest of your body is going to feel the negative results of long term use as well. It is possible to smoke or snort heroin, but most longtime addicts tend to inject it.
Eventually, this can lead to issues with your veins. To be precise, the veins you're injecting into can no longer stand the trauma and constant abuse, and they respond by simply collapsing. This means that blood flow will not occur as efficiently, leading to a tingling sensation in your hands, and difficulty finding a new place to inject. It is for this reason that long term addicts tend to have needle marks and scars all over their body, as different veins in their arms and legs collapse and even die over time.