Heroin is a highly addictive, illegal drug. It among the most abused and fastest acting of the opiates (opiates, also called narcotics, are a family of drugs which are used in the medical profession to relieve pain, but are also highly abused due to this very property). It induces a feeling of intense ecstasy and brings on this effect with rapidity, making it the drug of choice among recreational users seeking a quick ‘rush’.
It is more often than not injected. Alternatively, it can also be sniffed, snorted or smoked.
Direct short and long term effects of heroin use Addiction itself is one of the most devastating side effects of heroin. It is especially addictive because it finds its way into the brain extremely rapidly. It causes neurochemical and molecular changes in the brain. Soon after taking the drug, users may feel drowsy for a few hours. Mental function becomes hazy due to its effect on the central nervous system. Heroin addicts tend to expend most of their energies in procuring and using the drug; it becomes their life’s foremost motive. Heroin literally alters their brains.
The body gradually becomes used to the presence of the drug, and withdrawal symptoms occur if drug consumption is abruptly terminated. The symptoms manifest as restlessness, pain in muscles and bones, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, to name a few. Mostly, peak withdrawal symptoms are seen 24 to 48 hours after the last dose and fade out after a week or so. However, people have been known to persistently display withdrawal symptoms for several months.
Consistent heroin abuse has several debilitating medical consequences, some of which include collapsed veins, liver and kidney disease, respiratory problems (and sometimes a fatal collapse of the respiratory system), boils, blood clots which clog blood vessels leading to the lungs, liver, kidneys or brain. Heroin abusers often exchange used syringes, exposing themselves to a heightened risk of contracting infections such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C.
During pregnancy, heroin use can cause severe complications such as miscarriage and premature delivery. Babies of addicted mothers are more likely to die of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) than their counterparts whose mothers are not addicts.