What Are The Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Heroin Use?

The opioid epidemic is showing no signs of slowing down, and heroin is being used by more people than ever before. In fact, drugfreeworld.org estimates that 9.2 million people in the world use heroin. With so many people in the world using heroin, one has to wonder, what are the health effects?

Heroin is an opiate derived from the poppy plant that can be snorted, smoked, and injected. Heroin affects the pain and pleasure centers of the brain, which is a part of why it is so addicting. Here are some short-term and long-term health effects of using heroin.

Short-Term Health Effects of Heroin Use

Short-term, people who use heroin may experience dry mouth, warm flushing of the skin, a heavy feeling in the arms and legs, nausea or vomiting, severe itching, and “nodding” back and forth between consciousness and semi-consciousness.

Long-Term Health Effects of Heroin Use

Effects of long-term use of heroin include damaged teeth and gum swelling, scarring from scratching and injection sites, muscular weakness, severe constipation, decreased ability to ward off infections due to weakened immune system, poor nutrition and appetite, sleep difficulties, and a decrease in sexual functioning. Long-term heroin use also negatively affects the liver, kidneys, brain, and heart and can sometimes cause irreversible damage to these organs.

Sometimes, learning about the health effects of heroin can motivate someone to stop using the substance. If you or someone you know is interested in getting help for his or her addiction to heroin, contact Rehab After Work today.



      1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin
      2. http://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/heroin/international-statistics.html
      3. http://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/heroin/long-term-effects.html

    Article Written by Shaylyn Forte, LPC, CAADC