Opioid Use Disorder

What It Is

Heroin is typed as an opioid drug made from morphine, which is a natural substance taken out of the seed pod of various poppy plants. It comes in the form as either white or brown powder, or a black sticky substance known as black tar heroin. Individuals will often ingest the drug by injecting via needle, sniffing, snorting, or smoking it. Some will even mix heroin with crack cocaine, a practice called “speedballing.”

Once ingested, heroin enters the brain rapidly and binds to the brain’s opioid receptors on cells located in various areas, especially those involved in feelings of pain and pleasure and in controlling heart rate, sleeping and breathing.

When initially using heroin, individuals often report feeling a “rush”, or surge of euphoric pleasure. However, there are other common negative effects, including:

  • Dry mouth
  • Warm flushing of the skin
  • Heavy feeling in arms and legs
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe itching
  • Clouded mental functioning
  • Going “on the nod”, or back-and-forth state
    of being conscious and semi-conscious 

Individuals who use heroin for extended periods of time may experience:

  • Insomnia
  • Collapsed veins when injected via needle
  • Damaged tissue inside the nose from repeated sniffing or snorting
  • Destruction of the heart lining and valves
  • Abscesses, or swollen pus-filled tissue
  • Constipation and stomach cramping
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Lung complications, including pneumonia
  • Mental disorders such as depression and antisocial personality disorder
  • Sexual dysfunction for men
  • Irregular menstrual cycles for women

Other potential effects include clogging of blood vessels leading to lungs, liver, kidneys, or permanent brain damage. Also, sharing drug injection equipment such as needles and bands with impaired judgement of the drug use can increase risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. 

Complications from Opioid Use

The major complication of opioid, such as heroin, increase in usage often leads to overdose. A heroin overdose occurs when an individual uses an enough amount of the drug to produce a life-threatening reaction or death. When an individual overdoses on heroin, their breathing often slows down or stops altogether. This can decrease the amount of oxygen that reaches their brain, a condition called “hypoxia”. Hypoxia can have short and long-term mental effects and affects the nervous system and can lead to coma and permanent brain damage.

The caring staff at My Hope For Tomorrow are equipped and ready to help you or a loved one break free from opioid use disorder.

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Don’t let Opioid Use Disorder ruin your life, the caring and compassionate clinical team at My Hope For Tomorrow are here for you to rediscover life free from addiction.

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