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How Does Heroin Affect Your Brain?

July 26, 2021 , Agape Treatment Center

How Does Heroin Affect Your Brain?

Serious Effects of Heroin on the Brain

Heroin is a highly addictive and widely abused illegal opioid drug, one that is responsible for thousands of overdose-related deaths on an annual basis. Over the past several years, rates of heroin abuse and overdose death related to heroin have been on the rise throughout the country. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in the year 2016, roughly 948,000 American adults reported using heroin at least once within the past year. The same report states that this number has been steadily increasing since 2007. The number of first-time heroin users is exceptionally high, with an estimated 170,000 new users in 2016 alone. Since the NIDA report was released, the number of heroin users has continued to increase.

When it comes to both short and long-term heroin abuse, there are many negative effects to consider. The short-term effects of heroin use include:

  • A rush of intense pleasure or euphoria
  • Severely itchy skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • “Nodding out” or slipping in and out of consciousness
  • Dry mouth
  • A heavy feeling in the extremities
  • Flushing of the skin
  • Respiratory depression
  • The long-term effects of heroin use include:
  • The development of a physical and psychological dependence
  • Withdrawal symptoms with abruptly ceased use
  • Long-term health issues related to chronic heroin use
  • Damage to the lungs and other organs
  • Permanent brain damage

What Will Heroin Do to Your Brain?

The body contains many neurotransmitters, which are naturally occurring chemicals that bind to certain receptors within the brain to complete vital functions. One of these receptors, called mu-opioid receptors, is activated in the brain’s reward center when an opioid drug enters the central nervous system. As a result, a significant amount of certain “feel good” chemicals like serotonin and dopamine are released, which leads to intense feelings of euphoria and pleasure. Over time drug-taking behavior is reinforced by this excess dopamine release, and physical dependence develops. There are certain consequences involved in introducing opioid narcotics to the system as opposed to naturally occurring mu-opioids.

The brain becomes incapable of producing these “feel good” chemicals independently, and it becomes completely reliant on artificial production. This is one of the most significant ways that heroin affects the brain. When heroin is used chronically, it can lead to permanent memory loss as well.

Agape Treatment Center and Heroin Addiction Recovery

At Agape Treatment Center, we specialize in treating heroin addiction regardless of how severe it has become. It is important to remember that substance abuse is progressive, and even if your symptoms are not severe yet, they will continue to worsen over time. If you have recently started using heroin, the prospect of doing permanent damage to your brain might seem like a long shot.

However, doesn’t brain damage occur in people who have been abusing heroin for years? With rapidly changing potencies and the inclusion of fentanyl (a synthetic opioid) in many current batches of heroin, there is no telling how severe your initial reaction will be. Even people who use heroin one time are liable to experience a range of serious side effects.

Begin Your Journey from Heroin Abuse at AGAPE

Sadly, many first-time users also lose their lives to heroin overdose. There is no telling what the product will be cut with, not to mention that many first-time users accidentally take too much. Regardless of whether you have used the drug several times or for years, we are available to help you begin on a journey of recovery. At Agape Treatment Center, we combine evidence-based and heavily researched medications with behavioral therapies and 12 step program education and involvement.

To learn more about our recovery program or to get started with our simple admissions process, contact us today. One of our addiction specialists is available around the clock to help you find the right treatment option.