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If you or someone you know has used heroin, you may not know all of the pertinent facts about this opioid. Read on to get answers to questions like “what are heroin’s effects?” and “how long does a heroin high last?”

What is heroin?

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, heroin is an opioid drug that is processed from morphine, which is extracted from certain poppy plants. Heroin is commonly found in a white or brown powdered form and is injected, snorted or smoked. It can also be found in a black and sticky, tar-like form.

Heroin is often consumed on its own or mixed with other drugs, such as cocaine. It is commonly cut with other white, powdery substances like sugar, so many users are unaware of how much they actually consume.

Heroin is a Schedule I Controlled Substance, meaning that it has no approved uses in the United States and has a high risk for addiction.

What are heroin’s effects?

Heroin is often sought for its quick surge of euphoria. This is due to heroin quickly entering the brain and binding to opioid receptors, which influence a person’s sensations of pleasure and pain.

Heroin effect on the brain

Like all opioids, heroin binds to opioid receptors in the brain, changing someone’s experience of pleasure and pain. A person’s body naturally creates opioid-like chemicals, such as endorphins, that promote feelings of pleasure. For example, endorphins are released by exercising. Synthetic chemicals offer these same sensations of pleasure in exorbitant amounts and cause negative consequences for the brain and body.

When an addictive drug is consumed, the brain reinforces the pleasurable sensation and is eager to experience it again. When the drug is taken a second time, the neurological pathway that favors the euphoric high is more deeply entrenched. As a drug is sought again and again, the brain’s reward circuitry is reinforced. This means a person will simultaneously begin to crave the drug, and at the same time deny the negative consequences of the substance.

As time passes, more of the drug will need to be consumed to produce the same effects. This is what causes tolerance and addiction. It will eventually lead to overdose if left untreated.

Additionally, once a person consumes synthetic opioids, he or she is unlikely to continue producing these natural feel-good chemicals. This can further create a substance use dependence as the brain only artificially releases pleasure chemicals.

If a person stops taking the substance, withdrawal effects can be felt. Withdrawal occurs as the body expels toxins while still craving the drug that created them. A system that has learned to function while saturated with synthetic opioids will have a tough transition to re-adapting to life without them, even if it’s better in the long run.

Heroin effects on the body

The short-term effects of heroin on the body are as follows.

  • The initial feeling of euphoria
  • State of decreased activity and wakefulness
  • Drowsiness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Dry mouth sensation
  • Constricted pupils
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Warm flush
  • Heaving feeling arms and legs

Due to the addictive nature of heroin and the common mixing of heroin with other substances, overdose rates for this opioid drug are high. The physical signs of overdose can include blue fingernails, moist and clammy hands, shaking, coma and bradycardia (a heart rate of less than roughly 60 beats per minute).

Long-term effects are as follows, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

  • Insomnia
  • Collapsed veins
  • Damaged nose tissue from snorting
  • Abscesses
  • Constipation
  • Stomach cramping
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Pneumonia and other lung conditions
  • Mental health issues
  • Permanent brain damage

The short and long-term effects of heroin are serious. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to this powerful opioid, the time to get professional help is now.

How long does a heroin high last?

The American Addiction Center states that the initial euphoric high of heroin can be felt within minutes, and typically only last for several minutes after it is first felt. Smaller effects can linger for hours, though. As the initial high wears off, a person’s heart rate and breathing will slow.

Among opioids, heroin provides one of the quickest highs. A person may experience nausea before the high sets in. It’s worth noting that the longer heroin has been used and the more tolerance has developed, the amount of time the high is experienced and the pleasure of the high both decrease.

How long does heroin withdrawal last?

The timeline of heroin withdrawal is unique for each individual. Many people wonder how long the effects of heroin last. Symptoms of withdrawal may set in a few hours after the last use and continue for around a week. Withdrawal from any opioid is a grueling process and often drives people back into an addiction.

Initial withdrawal symptoms almost always recede within two weeks time, but residual effects may be evident for several months after cessation of use.

How long can heroin be detected in the body?

Since heroin is an opioid, it accumulates in the body over time and is stored in fat and tissue. Heroin can be detected in urine samples for up to a week after the last use and in hair follicle tests for up to three months.

Be proactive and start treatment today

Heroin’s effect on the brain and body can cause devastating consequences, including overdose and death. Don’t let a heroin addiction go on another day and get professional help for your recovery now. Find the personalized care you need from an experienced team at Silvermist Recovery and contact us today.