In the US, heroin was originally used in pain relief, along with morphine which is, like heroin, also derived from the opium poppy. However, heroin became illegal in 1924 when its highly addictive qualities were realized. Morphine, much less potent, is still in use today for medical purposes. Heroin and other opiates, like all recreational psychoactive drugs, operate within the brain to create a euphoric high for those who use them. All use of an illegal drug, as well as improper use of a legal drug, is considered abuse. Abusing heroin can lead rapidly to dependence and addiction.
Understanding the effects of heroin on the brain and how long-term heroin abuse will impact your health and well-being can help you decide on addiction treatment at a heroin detox center and rehab facility. To learn more about the way heroin affects the brain and what a heroin detox center can do for starting recovery, reach out to Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge (PAATC) today. Call us at 844.442.8673 or use our online form.
What Are Psychoactive Drugs?
Drugs like heroin are psychoactive drugs. This term can apply to both prescription drugs and illegal or street drugs. The purpose of a psychoactive drug or substance is to interact within the brain in order to affect how it works. This means it can cause changes in thoughts, awareness, perceptions, mood, emotions, and behavior. This kind of drug can have a range of purposes:
- A drug used to treat a mental health disorder such as depression, schizophrenia, or anxiety is a medication whose psychoactive properties bring about improved mental health. Sedatives like Valium or an anti-psychotic like Haldol are considered psychoactive even though they have distinct purposes and work in the brain differently.
- A drug prescribed for a physical health condition can also cause psychoactive effects, such as opioids used in pain management.
- A drug that is acquired and used for recreational purposes with the psychoactivity being the goal. This can be anything from a prescription medication that is not being used as prescribed, or other drugs such as LSD, meth, cocaine, or heroin.
Not all psychoactive drugs are dangerous, but all opioids, including heroin, are psychoactive drugs.
What Are the Effects of Heroin on the Brain?
Heroin directly interferes with the structures in the brain that produce the hormones and neurotransmitters, like dopamine and serotonin, that regulate your emotions and mood. They are responsible for your feelings of pleasure and contentment. Unfortunately, long-term heroin abuse can interrupt the natural feedback cycle that keeps that system running smoothly.
Heroin floods the brain with those neurotransmitters, creating the euphoria associated with this drug. However, the brain soon becomes dependent on the drug to experience pleasurable feelings. Matter within the brain can deteriorate and lead to issues with decision-making and stress management.
As you become psychologically addicted to the euphoria, your body is becoming physically addicted as well. This is because the brain essentially stops doing part of its job. Without heroin, the brain does not kick in automatically. That takes time and recovery.
How to Treat Long-Term Heroin Abuse at PAATC
To break the damaging cycle described above, medical detox is the first step in recovery. Experiencing withdrawal is much easier and safer while under medical supervision. Next comes a range of treatments that address the whole person, from evidence-based therapies to peer support groups.
At PAATC, we offer full support from both a clinical and personal perspective. If you enroll in treatment with us, you will have numerous options available to you after you go through detox, including:
- Residential treatment
- Short-term inpatient treatment
- Faith-based therapies
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Peer support, including 12-step groups
Reach out to learn more about the effects of heroin on the brain, how long-term heroin abuse is treated, and how our heroin detox center can safely get you started on your recovery journey. Call us at 844.442.8673 or fill out this online form today.