The abuse of heroin takes its toll on your body in many different ways. Heroin is considered to be one of the most addictive drugs, and it destroys your relationships, your career, and most obviously, your physical appearance. While the internal damage done by heroin abuse is life-threatening, it’s often the outward body changes with heroin use that people can see the most significant changes. And while looks can often be deceiving, the damage from heroin abuse is typically telltale and drastic.
Heroin Use On The Rise
As America focuses on the opioid epidemic and the impact it has on the country as a whole; an unfortunate and potentially deadly residual effect is a rise in the use of heroin. Experts believe this stems from government-mandated crackdowns on prescription medications and drugs, particularly painkillers. Heroin is similar to many prescription painkillers on a chemical level and often brings about similar effects in the body. However, it’s cheaper and more accessible, which makes it even more of a turn-to drug. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 80% of people who use heroin misused prescription painkillers before heroin use.
Without question, the damage done by heroin use inside your body is significant and potentially deadly. Once heroin enters your bloodstream, it goes through various chemical reactions in your brain, and your body essentially behaves as if you’ve been given morphine. The heroin binds to opioid receptors and brings you the heroin high. Euphoric feelings and a decrease in anxiety and pain are common as your heart pumps the drug throughout your body. But while the half-life of heroin inside your body is brief (approximately two-six minutes), the outward and visible signs of heroin misuse are more readily noticeable and longer-lasting.
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Body Changes With Heroin Use: Drastic Transformation
Typically, when you begin using heroin, there are not very many outward signs your friends and family may recognize. They may notice you seem euphoric but still somewhat sedate, and they may comment on your consistent fatigue. But because heroin is so highly addictive, the body changes with heroin—seen and unseen—come about rapidly and are drastic in nature.
Heroin Use Compromises Oral Health
A study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association found that the symptoms of tooth decay often known as ‘meth mouth’ (the result of meth abuse) were also characteristic of those who use heroin intravenously as well. Those who use heroin have more cavities, missing and/or filled teeth and more periodontal and gingival disease. The missing and decayed teeth are pronounced outward body changes with heroin use.
Skin Condition Deteriorates
The skin of heroin users typically starts off looking flushed and pale. Heroin lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, and your skin goes from pale to yellow and aged without proper blood supply. Then, even more visibly, your skin begins to show cuts, bruises, and scabs. Most often exclusive to heroin users, dermatillomania is a condition that causes you to pick at your skin repeatedly. The many scabs on your face can lead to infection and scarring as well.
Weight Loss and Malnutrition Are Prevalent
One of the most significant body changes with heroin use is your weight. Heroin decreases your appetite and affects your weight. You look malnourished because you are most likely not eating and the change in body shape is typically quite sudden.
Effects of Extreme Constipation
Experts estimate up to 90% of heroin users suffer severe constipation, similar to those who suffer from opioid-induced constipation. Heroin use prevents your brain from giving signals for emptying your bowels. Heroin also paralyzes your stomach and reduces secretions from your digestive system, so you may not be able to go at all. Not only does this cause extreme cramping and pain, but it can also cause you to be frustrated, irritable, and anxiety-filled as seeking relief becomes more difficult.
Sexual Function Impairment
Research shows that for both men and women, heroin use impairs not only sexual bodily functions and ability but sexual pleasure as well.
Heroin Use & Insomnia
Heroin addiction typically ends up leaving you with insomnia. This insomnia affects your wakeful periods, your relationships, your cognitive functioning, and could even lead to psychotic episodes and hallucinations.
There is Hope After Heroin
The impact heroin use has on your body is significant. You see it every time you look in the mirror, and you know it’s not the life you were meant to live. The caring and compassionate staff of Ocean Hills Recovery can help you return to living a fulfilling life. We will customize a treatment program for you, and walk alongside you as you break the chains of heroin addiction and begin rebuilding your life.
The body changes with heroin use don’t have to be permanent, and you deserve the personalized and honest recovery help that Ocean Hills Recovery specializes in. Contact us today and return to the real you.
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.