heroin use

The Short Term Effects of Heroin

The effects of heroin or any other kind of drug may vary from person to person. It depends on a number of factors including weight, the state of the individual’s health, and whether or not the person has developed a tolerance for the drug. Additionally, the effects of any drug depend on the amount taken. The short-term effects of heroin also depend on the purity of the drug. One thing is for sure, heroin addiction is fast developing.

One of the major risk factors involved in heroin use is that users cannot determine the strength or chemical make-up of the drug. This is mainly due to the fact that this drug is sold on the street and sellers may mix heroin with other substances. For example, Sometimes, street dealers mix heroin with drugs like morphine or fentanyl. But they might not disclose this information to those who buy from them. 

Heroin comes in various forms. It may be found as a black sticky substance, which is commonly referred to on the streets as “black tar heroin”. This drug can also be seen in the form of either white or brown powder. Purer forms are also found, but most street heroin is produced from sugar, starch, powdered milk, or quinine. It may be produced from strychnine or other poisons as well, making it even more toxic and dangerous for users and more important for people to get help in overcoming heroin use. 

The History of Heroin

In the 1870s, heroin was synthesized from morphine. A German pharmaceutical company by the name of Bayer marketed this substance; people thought it to be a replacement for morphine and Bayer marketed it as a cough suppressant. However, in 1924, the United States declared this drug illegal, so it no longer has any medicinal use in the States.

Heroin is a highly addictive drug and can produce very harmful effects. In fact, 1 out of every 4 people who use this drug actually become addicted to it. Any use of this substance is considered drug abuse and can ultimately lead to serious addiction problems in the lives of those who use heroin.

Thie drug is classified as an opiate and is considered to be a sedative and psychoactive drug. Those who use heroin experience various consequences, including both short-term and long-term effects. 

Heroin: An Overview of its Short-Term Effects

The method of consumption is another factor influencing the short-term effect of heroin. Heroin is administered by injection, snorting or smoking. Intravenous injection is the most common method of use since it produces the most intense effects the fastest. Users typically feel the effects in 7 to 8 seconds.

People usually feel the effects of intramuscular injection within about 5 to 8 seconds. Those who smoke or snort heroin usually feel the peak effects within 10 to 15 minutes. Some users smoke or snort heroin because they believe there is less chance for addiction when administering it through those routes. But, of course, this is not the case.

Shortly after a person uses heroin, the drug crosses the blood-brain barrier where it is converted to morphine. It quickly binds to the opioid receptors in the brain and, as a result, the drug produces intense feelings of pleasure. This is usually accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, dry mouth, and a heavy feeling in the arms and legs.

Other short-term effects may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Severe itching

Following the initial sensation, users may begin to experience:

  • Drowsiness 
  • Deterioration of mental functions 
  • Lack of coordination 

Those who use heroin may begin to drift in and out of consciousness. This is known as “going on the nod”. Heroin also blocks pain signals transmitted through the spinal cord from the body. Some individuals who use this drug may experience pain relief.

Heroin causes sedative effects, so people may seem to feel content or calm after using the drug. But, this can cause people’s heartrates to become dangerously slow and breathing to become shallow.

The Short-Term Effects of Low to Moderate Doses of Heroin

The short-term effects of heroin will depend on the dose administered. In lower doses, heroin may result in the following:

  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion
  • Pain relief
  • Drowsiness
  • Reduced libido
  • Constricted pupils
  • Slow breathing rate
  • Reduced coordination
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slurred and slow speech
  • Strong feelings of wellbeing
  • Decreased heart rate and blood pressure

The Short-Term Effects of High Doses of Heroin

High doses of heroin will intensify many of its effects. It also increases the risk of overdose. The following are commonly experienced when high doses of heroin are administered:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Nodding off
  • Shallow and slow breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased sweating and itching
  • Urge to urinate but difficulty doing so
  • Decrease in body temperature
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Unconsciousness

If a person uses high doses of heroin, it’s possible that the results can be life-threatening and even fatal. This is why it’s so important for people to end heroin abuse as quickly and safely as possible.

Detoxing from Heroin Use

Withdrawing from heroin use can be very challenging. When people stop using heroin, their bodies experience withdrawal symptoms which can be extremely intense and severe. Still, many individuals attempt to stop using heroin and other drugs abruptly, opting to “quit cold turkey”. However, this option is not only uncomfortable but unsafe.

Those who want to get past an addiction problem should instead ask for help from professionals who can work with them throughout the withdrawal process. A professional, medical detox program can help people to end substance use in a more comfortable and safe way. 

Getting the Help You Need at Northbound Treatment Services

Reaching out for help when you have a problem may be challenging. It’s not easy to come to grips with the fact that you are struggling with something like addiction. But, please know that you are not alone; there are many others who have found hope in reaching out for help from professional addiction treatment facilities. You can overcome substance abuse but it begins with asking for assistance.

Here at Northbound Treatment Services, we work to help individuals who are struggling with heroin addiction. We help them to develop coping mechanisms by adopting a lifestyle of recovery.

Our team understands that no two individuals are the same, so we offer customized treatment plans to meet each patient’s needs. We also offer medically assisted treatment for drug addictions as well as counseling and education to treat the underlying causes. 

At Northbound, we’ve helped thousands regain control of their lives and function as a productive member of society. Let us help you! Just call us at (855) 858-6803.

References:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-heroin 

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin 

http://www.drugpolicy.org/drug-facts/what-is-heroin 

https://www.addictioncenter.com/drugs/heroin/ 

Article Reviewed by Paul Alexander

Paul AlexanderPaul Alexander is the founder and CEO of Northbound Treatment. He received his Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist training at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, and was awarded Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 2002. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law and Society, Summa Cum Laude, from University of California, Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. He believes wholeheartedly in transformational leadership, organizational health and effective, fully integrated substance use disorder treatment.

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