long-term effects of heroin use

Understanding the Long-Term Effects of Heroin Use on the Body and Mind

Each year, more than 170,000 people in the United States try heroin for the first time. 

The opioid crisis has and will continue to affect the lives of thousands. But these numbers don’t even count the friends and families who suffer while watching their loved one battle their addiction disorder.

While the symptoms of heroin abuse begin with poor personal hygiene, the long-term effects of heroin use are much more dangerous. Before you or a loved one begins to experience these sometimes fatal symptoms, you should seek help. 

Not sure what signs to look for? Here are the mental and physical symptoms most commonly seen in long-term heroin users.

Mental Effects of Heroin Use

Many people start using heroin to self-medicate mental disorders like depression and anxiety. While the euphoria of heroin use may seem to help these conditions at first, the long term effects of heroin use, actually make the symptoms of a mental disorder worse. 

That’s because chronic heroin use has been shown to cause damage to white matter in the brain. 

White matter is tissue that contains neurons and axons, which are both vital to healthy brain function. When these cells are damaged or destroyed in heroin addiction, they are extremely slow to recover. 

Meanwhile, a heroin user will experience problems with:

  • impulse control
  • processing and responding to stress
  • decision making
  • processing information
  • learning new information

Heroin cravings, tolerance, and addiction are also due to the mental effects of heroin abuse.

That’s because of the neurotransmitter, Dopamine. Dopamine is the way the brain reinforces or rewards and encourages a behavior. When people use heroin, a cascade of Dopamine is released, making them feel euphoria.

The euphoric effects of Dopamine reinforce heroin-taking behavior. This leads the user to crave heroin and feel like they need more heroin to live.

After administering heroin over and over, users develop a tolerance to heroin. This tolerance means they need to take more heroin to feel the same effects they did that first time. When heroin users experience cravings and tolerance, they have developed an addiction disorder. 

The most frightening fact about heroin use is that, while tolerance decreases over time, cravings for heroin may never go away. Those who seek help, though, have a better chance at quitting heroin for good.

Mental Symptoms of Withdrawal

Withdrawal occurs when a heroin addict stops using. In long-term users, these symptoms typically show up 2-3 days after cessation of use. Users who already have a mental health condition may experience exacerbated symptoms of their disorder during withdrawal.

The psychological symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • severe depression
  • feelings of emptiness
  • suicidal ideation or attempts
  • anxiety
  • panic attacks
  • insomnia

These symptoms eventually cease. Yet the pain inflicted on family and friends by suicidal behaviors may last an entire lifetime.

Physical Signs of Heroin Use

The symptoms of heroin use can damage a person’s body just as much as they damage the mind. 

Facial appearance can drastically change. Symptoms like swollen gums, damaged teeth, and skin abscesses can make a user virtually unrecognizable to family and friends. 

But that’s only the beginning. 

The long-term effects of heroin use include chronic constipation and severe stomach cramping. Heroin addicts experience poor sex drive and men often develop irreversible erectile dysfunction. Women often report irregular or stopped menstrual cycles, which may affect their ability to have children. 

The way the user administers heroin to the bloodstream leads to different symptoms as well. 

Snorting causes damage to the nasal lining and the septum. Smoking leads to lung infection, pneumonia, and even cancer of the mouth, throat, and lung. Intravenous methods lead to collapsed veins, infections of the heart lining and valves, as well as heart disease. 

More severe physical symptoms of heroin use are:

  • liver and kidney disease
  • arthritis
  • HIV
  • Hepatitis

The scariest symptom of all, however, has to be death. More than 15,000 Americans die each year from a heroin overdose.

There is a common misconception that heroin overdose only occurs in individuals with low heroin tolerance. The truth is that any heroin user could die at any time. Infected needles, tainted supply, or even extremely pure supply are all known causes of a heroin overdose. 

Physical Symptoms of Withdrawal

Long-term heroin use also causes physical symptoms of withdrawal after cessation. These flu-like symptoms are often associated with continued use of heroin even after heroin tolerance makes it difficult to experience the euphoric effects.

Physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:

  • restlessness
  • muscle and bone pain
  • insomnia
  • diarrhea and vomiting
  • cold flashes
  • goosebumps
  • involuntary leg movements

While these symptoms usually go away after 7-10 days, some long-term heroin users experience symptoms for a month or longer. 

Treatment for the Long-Term Effects of Heroin Use

The long-term effects of heroin usecan be devastating not only to the user but also for their friends and family. The drug-seeking behaviors heroin users participate in often cause tension and conflict in relationships. Meanwhile, loved ones are devastated watching the user suffer from their addiction disorder. 

The good news is there is something you can do. 

Medication-assisted therapy has been shown to help with the mental effects of heroin as well as the physical signs of heroin use. Therapy helps to improve impulsive behaviors while medication decreases the symptoms of withdrawal. 

A treatment center is a great option for many heroin users since rehabilitation clinics like 1st Step offer services that are handcrafted for individual needs and goals for recovery. Patients are supported by professionals and have a community of patients to share the experience. 

If you or a loved one is ready to seek help, contact us or get in touch for more information about our rehab program. 

Heroin is a Full-Time Job

Addictions to drugs, alcohol, or gambling all take a lot out of us. They take a toll on our physical and mental well-being, and they exhaust our time and money.


An Increasing Commitment

When many people begin to take heroin, it’s often to supplement their prescription opioid addiction or to manage other chronic pain. As a person’s body gets more and more addicted to a substance, it has less and less of an effect. Often the amount of time needed to get a fix before withdrawal symptoms set in gets shorter and more severe. At some point double lives and denial get too much to deal with, and the addiction goes from. Although many people find ways to manage addiction and drug abuse, many others find it difficult to maintain employment and support their addiction. This often results in crime and selling off personal belongings to pay the bills and/or feed the addiction.


An opioid addiction also pays a toll on a person’s relationships, ruining many. The attempt at maintaining familial, romantic, and platonic relationships while in a deepening addiction can be a major challenge and time commitment. Time spent on an addiction can be time lost with a family or leading life in a capacity you enjoy.


Recovery Takes Time Too

The longer it takes to get into recovery, the harder it can be. Finding ways to deal with the core issues that invoked your drug dependency don’t happen overnight. It can take a years of intense work with support groups and behavioral therapists to find successful coping strategies with chronic physical and mental pain. The time spent addicted has often added more complications to the mix.

There are some wonderful people out there who are in real pain. For whatever reason they got in over their heads with an addiction, life can get complicated real fast with an addiction, and the lie the addiction tells us is that it will make things better when it’s really making it worse. If you are addicted to heroin or other opioids, it can be a full time job, but we hope you spend that time working on improving your life instead. Call us today for information about heroin detox in Broward County at (866) 319-6126.


Why Does Vicodin Lead to Heroin Addiction?

One of the things that can be confusing about addiction and the way it progresses is that there is a link between certain drugs. There are many people who laugh when they hear the term “gateway drug,” but gateway drugs do exist in a certain capacity. Vicodin is one of them. Heroin is one of the most dangerous drugs on the market, and Vicodin can absolutely lead the way to heroin abuse. But how does this happen? Here’s a rundown of how Vicodin leads to heroin addiction.



As it turns out, Vicodin is a part of the opioid class of drugs, as is Heroin. Opioids are chemicals that can interface with opioid receptors in the brain, digestive tract, and spinal column. Chemically and medically, they’re used mainly for pain relief, but like other pain relievers and chemicals can be, opioids are addictive. Whether you take something prescribed by a doctor, like OxyContin or Vicodin, or something clearly illegal like heroin, each of these chemicals are opioids, and addict the body in similar ways.


Increasing Tolerance

One thing that is different about the opioids, though, is that each has a different strength. The body has the ability to adapt to chemicals and poisons, decreasing their influence on the body over time through a process called tolerance. While this doesn’t stem off addiction, it does make the body receive less benefit the more a chemical is used, because having that chemical becomes the body’s new normal. So if someone is popping Vicodin pills for their high, it won’t last forever. Eventually, the only way to get a high like before would be to take a stronger drug. Hence, Vicodin can lead the way to heroin, a higher-strength opioid.


If you or someone you know are looking to head off the rock bottom by getting heroin drug treatment, our Broward County addiction facility has plenty of options for detox and rehab. Contact us to learn more.


Why Broward County is Inundated with Opioid Addiction Treatment Cases

Although there has always been drug use and abuse within Broward County, you are much more likely these days to know someone who has been afflicted with or you have found yourself with an opioid addiction. Considering the national figures, though, it would likely be rarer these days if you are an adult who does not know someone, including yourself, who has an opioid addiction in Broward County. We might understand how bad the problem is and can be, but where did it come from in the first place and why has it corresponded with a huge uptick in heroin abuse and addiction?

Beginning of the Opioid Problem

The opioid crisis in Broward County mirrors that which the country as a whole is going through. Most people now addicted to opioids began using these narcotic drugs because they received a prescription from a legitimate medical practice sometime between the mid 90s and 2000s. The doctors aren’t to blame, though, as they were told that opioids are neither addictive or dangerous – that they should just throw opioids at any patient who experienced any pain, even if it was fairly minor.

And while doctors saw and reported individual cases of addiction take root, the pharmaceutical industry did nothing to dissuade over-prescribing these notoriously addictive medicines. It wasn’t until large numbers of people started dying from opioid medicines like fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and tramadol, among quite a few more that people started to take notice of how dangerous they are. By then, there was a legitimate crisis of addiction that’d spread nationwide.

The Real “Gateway” Drug

When politicians started to take notice of the opioid problem was when they realized how easily they led to heroin use, which has a massively negative stigma attached to it. That came about because heroin and opioid medications have very similar effects, but heroin has become substantially cheaper than its pharmaceutical relatives.

If you’re looking for help entering an opioid or heroin drug treatment program in Broward County, contact us for more information or to schedule a meeting with one of our addiction specialists.

How Painkillers Led to Widespread Heroin Addiction

Poorly Regulated and Misunderstood

In some way or another, nearly everyone has heard about the “opioid epidemic” and how it has been plaguing our nation over the last decade. However, although it is often portrayed as individuals abusing their painkillers, the widespread addiction actually has roots in issues that actually places the blame squarely where it belongs – on the government and big pharmaceutical companies.

When it was time for the Food and Drug Administration to do its job and test each opioid painkiller  as they hit the market, they apparently just trusted whatever the medicine’s manufacturer said rather than actually putting in due diligence. Because of this, it became “common knowledge” that opioids were not addictive. While we know the (obvious) truth of these dangerous drugs now, before everyone understood how addictive opioids could really be, doctors prescribed them at rates that would now be deemed highly irresponsible.

Because of that, millions of people around the United States are now addicted to some opioid or another, and many are in life-or-death battles with their addictions.


Going From Painkillers to Heroin

Where things get really dangerous with the opioid epidemic is that many addicts end up turning to heroin. As drastic of a choice this might seem, it is usually done to save money rather than just get a stronger high as most people assume. In fact, many medicinal opioids are actually much stronger than heroin. Still, where pharmaceutical opioids start at around $40, give or take a few, to get a day’s worth of drugs in, heroin is closer to $5. People have turned to heroin in large numbers simply to afford their addiction.


If you or a loved one is developing or has developed an addiction to prescription opioids or heroin, get the help you need right away by calling us today at (866) 319-6126 or send us a message online. Don’t wait until it’s too late.


Symptoms and Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Heroin vs Heroin-based Drugs

While heroin has a reputation of being one of the most addictive and powerful illegal street drugs in the world, there are a number of pharmaceutical medicines derived from it. And although heroin itself is especially well-known as being dangerous, some of those medically-approved pharmaceuticals are actually more addictive, more powerful, and more dangerous than heroin.

The medicines built from heroin and those that are synthetic heroin are referred to as opiates and opioids. Technically speaking, the difference between opiates and opioids is that opiates are directly created from the poppy plant. On the other hand, opioids are any substance that binds itself to the parts of the brain that are affected by opiates. This means that although every opiate is an opioid, not all opioids are opiates since opioids can and are often synthetically built by pharmaceutical companies. For example, heroin is itself an opiate but not an opioid.

Some of the drugs, medical or otherwise, include:

  • Methadone
  • Fentanyl
  • Tramadol
  • Codeine
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Morphine
  • Opium

Though this list isn’t comprehensive to all opioids available, those listed above are some of the most addictive with particularly widespread cases of abuse, including in Pompano Beach, FL .


Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Addiction

The signs and symptoms of opioid addiction include:

  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of coordination
  • Itchiness
  • Financial problems
  • Pulling away from friends or family
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Drop in productivity
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Shallow breathing
  • Slow breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Slow heart rate
  • Heart problems
  • More susceptible to infection
  • Kidney problems
  • Liver problems


Though the effects of heroin and it’s opioid counterparts are generally very similar, there are specific signs and symptoms that indicate heroin use specifically, these include:

  • Needle marks
  • Bruises on areas injections are common
  • Abscesses
  • Skin infections
  • Collapsed veins
  • Paraphernalia found together (combinations of spoons, foil, lighters, candles, needles, syringes, cotton balls, metal bottle caps, tie-offs, straw, rolling papers, pipe, small tubes)


Best Rehab Options for Heroin Addicts

If you or a family member has an addiction to heroin, or any opioid for that matter, should seek assistance through rehab as soon as possible. The addictiveness and the dangers of these drugs make them especially difficult to quit on one’s own.


1st Step Behavioral Health has the tools, resources, and experience to help fight and end a heroin addiction safely and in a way that is far less likely to lead to relapse. Contact us for yourself or for a loved one to get started right away.


Rehab in South Florida Keeps Growing Due to Widespread Opioid Use

Rehab Centers Seeing Numbers Like Never Before

Due to the huge, and seemingly increasing, number of people who are addicted to some kind of opioid or opiate, rehab in South Florida has seen an influx the likes of which our state has never seen. Because of this, new rehab centers have been popping up in nearly every town in South Florida, and they are only going to continue growing until this massive problem becomes a thing of the past.


Issues Caused by Opioid Epidemic

The issues that the opioid epidemic have led to are for practical purposes too numerous to mention. People have lost their homes, their families, their friends, and so much more because of how insanely addictive these pharmaceutical narcotics can be. Likewise, those who lose access to their pharmaceutical drugs find other sources to appease their addictions, which generally means they fall into the world of illicit drugs by way of heroin addiction.


Who’s to Blame?

While there isn’t a single person or organization that you can point your finger at and say they’re at fault, that doesn’t mean there aren’t organizations that could have stopped opioid addiction from taking over South Florida. When opioids hit the market, doctors and medical facilities were told that they offer pain relief without any long-term side effects. That being the case, once the community finally realized what a problem opioids were, many people had been using them for a very long time. Their prescriptions were pulled or modified, and these medical-industry-created addicts turned to heroin to easily abate their cravings.


Get Help for Opioid Addiction in South Florida

If you or a loved one is addicted to opioids, be it pharmaceutical or illicit or a combination of them, Contact Us today to get you set up with the help you need to overcome this life-threatening addiction.


Prescription Opioid and Heroin Addiction in Pompano

Starting off with a notably lax regulation of opioids during the 1990s and combined with years of negligent testing (it is unclear whether the tests were done poorly on purpose to increase usage), the United States has seen an explosive increase in opiate consumption over the last two decades. Pharmaceutical drugs like especially when it comes to heroin addiction in Pompano.


The Rise of Narcotic Pharmaceuticals

During the 90s and early 2000s, if a patient reported any kind of pain at all, most doctors would just prescribe a veritable never ending supply of some opioid or another. Over time, these patients grew dependent on their prescribed opioids, which led to many patients exaggerating or making up pain just to keep getting their preferred narcotic medications.


Once doctors and medical professionals finally realized that those medications were actually incredibly addictive -and downright dangerous for many users-, the medical community started pushing to add regulations to the way opioids get prescribed. Some doctors would only prescribe an opioid for pain relief if the patient was going through intense physical trauma, otherwise people would have to rely on the likes of ibuprofen and acetaminophen.


A Cheap Alternative to Pharmaceuticals

As patients started to see their number of pills dwindle into nothing and new prescriptions being more and more unlikely, millions of people around the country turned to illicit sources to keep up with their opiate consumption. Many of these people looked for -and found- new ways to get their hands on the same opioids they had been prescribed for years on end.


Conversely, there are many opioid addicts who just can’t get their hands on their preferred pharmaceutical medicines, but that means they are left craving something that seems impossible to get. It’s situations like that when people start doing desperate things. And specific to the opioid epidemic, more people than ever before use and are addicted to heroin.


If you or a loved one is living with an opioid addiction, contact NSN Tdoayds

Drug Rehab in Ft. Lauderdale that can help me with drug addiction?

The Signs of Heroin Use

Heroin use is rampant in the United States, with estimates of nearly one million people actively abusing the drug. Learning to recognize the signs of heroin use can help you identify a problem within your family. Thus, let us explore the common heroin use signs and discover how to respond effectively to them.

Strange Sleep and Energy Cycles

Heroin can disrupt sleep cycles in a number of ways. For example, when a person is under heroin’s influence, they might nod off without explanation. It’s also normal for chronic heroin users to drift in and out of consciousness when using the drug.

As a result, most heroin users aren’t always awake during the day and asleep at night. Additionally, they might constantly appear tired, as they may be constantly awake during odd hours. Instead of long periods of sleep, heroin users tend to rest in small increments. However, they’re never truly well-rested.

Dilated Pupils

One of the more obvious signs a person is using heroin is evident in the eyes. For example, heroin causes pupil dilation, making them appear very small. The more heroin a person uses, the smaller the pupils appear. If you notice the pupils are like pinpoints, then the individual in question is probably regularly using large amounts of heroin.

Visible Skin Infections or Scratches

Overall, there are many different methods of heroin use. However, heavy users tend to inject the drug. Doing so often causes open wounds, infections, and abscesses. These skin problems tend to be on the arms, but they might be visible on other areas of the body as well.

Many heroin users scratch at their skin while under the drug’s influence, as well. For example, some people feel like there are bugs underneath their skin. Thus, you might be able to identify a heroin addiction by noticing damaged skin. In addition, look for people who wear long sleeves in warm weather.

Changes to Behavior or Appearance

Sometimes, people use heroin and don’t display any of these signs. On the other hand, some users display them all. If you’re working to identify heroin abuse, overall, look for unexplained changes. For example, if a person drastically changes their appearance, hygiene habits, or routine without a reason, this could be a sign of substance abuse.

Responding to The Signs of Heroin Use

If you spot any of these signs of heroin abuse, seek professional help immediately. At 1st Step Behavioral Health, heroin addiction treatment is always available. Clients can begin their journey to recovery with access to the following resources and treatments:

Cognitive behavioral therapy
Dialectical behavioral therapy
Group and family therapy
Dual diagnosis care
Holistic approaches to recovery

Recognizing these signs of heroin use means a loved one needs help. Fortunately, at 1st Step Behavioral Health in Pompano Beach, Florida, there are programs designed to help you permanently conquer heroin addiction. Call (866) 319-6126 to learn more about your loved one’s personal path to recovery.

A man struggles with heroin effects

4 Heroin Effects and Their Consequences

Heroin is a dangerous drug. Just one use of the opiate can lead to addiction, not to mention countless other health consequences. For your safety, take a closer look at four common heroin effects and their resulting complications.

1. Short-Term Rush or Euphoria

Often, heroin causes a rush of euphoria upon injection. Overall, this is why the drug is so addictive. While this might sound desirable, it’s actually merely heroin binding to opioid receptors in the brain.

Furthermore, when these receptors flood with heroin, your brain consumes as much of the drug as possible. Ultimately, this can permanently change brain structure and function. Once the opioid receptors acclimate to a large amount of heroin, activities you once found appealing lose their luster. Therefore, sex, food, and friendship aren’t as pleasurable anymore.

2. Nausea and Vomiting

Heroin effects occur mostly in the digestive system. For example, it’s normal to experience nausea and vomiting immediately after consuming the drug. Consequently, this is an unavoidable byproduct of heroin use.

While nausea and vomiting are unpleasant, when it comes to long-term consequences, they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Heroin, like all opiates, causes constipation. This quickly becomes incredibly unpleasant after a week and can lead to serious complications. For example, conditions like bowel perforation are common from heavy heroin consumption.

3. Drowsiness

Another common effect of taking heroin is drowsiness. Many heroin users experience what is known as nodding. This is when people go in and out of consciousness after using the drug. Unfortunately, this leads to an inability to feel truly rested.

Additionally, while drowsiness and lethargy are concerning, heroin could lead to a potential overdose. It’s extremely important to understand that drowsiness could be the direct result of labored breathing and reduced oxygen flow. With too much heroin, users can become unconscious. In some cases, an overdose on heroin is fatal. If you experience nodding and difficulty breathing after using heroin, call 911 immediately.

4. Reduction in Pain

Often, those with heroin dependence first began using because they no longer had access to prescription opiates. Thus, heroin becomes a method for easing chronic pain, although, it’s certainly not effective or safe. Over time, the need for pain relief can lead to addiction.

Avoiding Heroin Effects with Addiction Treatment

The only way to safely end a heroin addiction is with professional support. At 1st Step Behavioral Health, you can begin conquering the unwanted effects of heroin. We offer various addiction treatment methods including:

• Art and music therapy
Dual diagnosis treatment
Life skills rehab
Drug detox
Relapse prevention training

The harrowing symptoms of heroin addiction are endless, and recovery is the only way to avoid them. At 1st Step Behavioral Health in Pompano Beach, Florida, you’ll have the tools and support for embracing lifelong recovery. Fight back against heroin by calling (866) 319-6126 today.