Whether used medically or abused, psychoactive drugs work because they interact within the brain to produce certain effects. A psychiatrist might prescribe an anti-depressant to help a patient feel better. That medication works because of how it impacts brain chemistry to help alleviate depression. Similarly, an opioid like heroin or fentanyl affects the brain. The long-term consequences of heroin abuse within the brain, as well as other systems of the body, can be significant. To mitigate or avoid long-term health problems, consider heroin addiction treatment in Rehrersburg, PA.
Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge (PAATC) has been successfully treating addiction for more than 60 years. Our professional team of therapists, clinicians, addiction specialists, and support staff are experienced and compassionate. If you are curious about heroin and the brain, what the long-term effects of heroin are, or how you or a loved one can find help for heroin addiction, call PAATC today at 844.442.8673 or use this online form.
The Dangers of Heroin
Heroin is a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Though some opioids have medical uses, such as morphine or oxycodone, heroin is considered a street drug and is available only illegally. Many people originally prescribed an opioid for pain become dependent and, eventually, addicted and end up seeking cheaper and easier-to-get drugs on the street, usually heroin, to avoid painful withdrawal.
Heroin interacts with the brain to create the euphoria users seek. Those who are addicted need heroin to simply feel normal and avoid withdrawal. Without any medical supervision or oversight, heroin is more dangerous than a prescription pill simply because its potency is unknown and there is no way to know if it is laced with something potentially even more deadly, like fentanyl.
Heroin and the Brain
All systems in the body are controlled by the brain, including involuntary functions like breathing, heartbeat, and digestion. The brain oversees everything else too: decision-making, learning, planning, and more. The abuse of heroin erodes the brain’s ability to do those things. People addicted to heroin stop making daily or life plans, do not make sound decisions, and often struggle with memory retention.
The way it does that is to interfere with the body’s endocrine system. This system is in charge of making the hormones and neurotransmitters that regulate brain function, among other things. Heroin disrupts mood regulation and simple communication among nerve cells.
Your brain and body become dependent on heroin to produce good feelings. Without it, your body has forgotten how to do that. People addicted to heroin lose their ability to:
- Regulate stress
- Make decisions
- Feel pleasure
In addition to the way heroin interferes with the brain, there are effects of heroin that are more long term.
Long-Term Effects of Heroin
Prolonged heroin abuse leads to the following effects or changes within the body and brain, many of which are difficult, or even impossible, to reverse:
- Changes to the physical structure of the brain
- Deterioration of the brain’s white matter
- Imbalance within the neural and hormone systems
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
Some of the dangers of heroin use are associated with the use of intravenous needles, including,
- Skin infections
- Sepsis and infections of major organs like the heart
Opioids like heroin are far from harmless. Dabbling casually can lead to a powerful addiction, which turns life inside out. But help for heroin addiction is available at PAATC.
PAATC Heroin Addiction Treatment Program
Heroin’s effect on the brain can be severe. Depending on how long someone has been addicted and how much they use on a daily basis, the physical changes within the brain can be lasting. But most of the effects of heroin abuse do fade over time, once recovery has begun.
If you or someone you love is struggling with heroin abuse, give yourself a solid start on your recovery by letting PAATC help you. Our professional staff provides evidence-based therapies in a safe environment where you will feel supported and secure. Call to learn more about heroin addiction treatment at PAATC by dialing 844.442.8673 or using this online form.