Effects of Heroin Abuse on Mental Health

How Does Heroin Abuse Affect Your Mental Health?

Bill Wilson
By Bill Wilson
contributor

July 29, 2021


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  • Drug Addiction is an issue that has plagued every society all around the globe. It is indeed a social problem, but its solution lies in its recognition as a medical condition. Certain individuals with fragile mental health are more prone to drug abuse and addiction. People who have addictive personality disorder are also more prone to addiction of any kind, including drug addiction. Once addicted, the individual requires rehab depending upon the kind of addiction they have. The addiction can be mental or chemical.

    Mental addiction is not as severe and can easily be cured. It is behavioral in nature. Drugs like marijuana often lead to mental or psychological addiction. On the other hand, chemical or physical addiction affects the body. It makes your body dependent on the substance, and when you try to quit, there are severe withdrawal symptoms. Drugs like alcohol, heroin, cocaine, meth, and other hard drugs lead to chemical addiction. To treat this addiction, facilities such as alcohol rehab, heroin rehab, etc., are required. 

    What is Heroin?

    Heroin is an opioid that is derived from morphine. Morphine, in turn, is extracted from poppy plants. Poppy plantations are often found in Colombia, South East Asia, and Mexico. In the market, heroin is also known as dope, smack, junk, brown, China white, snow, and hero. There are also other nicknames for it, but they’re not as popular as these.

    Heroin is more often than not of two types – white or brown. White heroin is often purer and more expensive. Brown heroin is very popular in developing nations and is easily accessible. It is also cheaper than white heroin as it consists of only 20% heroin. The remaining 80% are impurities. Thus, brown heroin is even more dangerous as it can be laced with almost anything.

    Most heroin abusers inject it to get the most out of it. Some also snort and smoke it. Brown heroin is often mixed with tobacco or marijuana and smoked.

    Effects of Heroin on Mental Health

    Heroin can have devastating short-term as well as long-term effects on one’s mental health. These include:

    Insomnia

    People who use heroin often develop insomnia and are unable to sleep for days. This leads to more health problems. Combined with other effects, insomnia can trigger a cycle of abuse.

    Early Onset of Mental Illnesses

    Many drugs can trigger mental illnesses an individual might already be prone to. In other words, if a person’s family has a history of a certain mental illness such as schizophrenia, they might be prone to it. Drugs such as heroin can trigger those mental illnesses, and that person can develop them early.

    Depression

    It is another effect of heroin abuse that can prove deadly. Long-time abusers can develop chronic depression that not only fuels their abuse but also makes it harder for them to quit. The drug soon becomes their only crutch. 

    Other Harmful Effects of Heroin

    Apart from the devastating effects of heroin on one’s mental health, there are also some other deadly effects it has. Here are some of them:

    The short-term effects of heroin include dry mouth, heavy arms and legs, vomiting and nausea, severe itching, and loss of consciousness. Its long-term effects are quite deadly. If a person injects heroin, their veins can collapse. Those who snort or sniff the drug can have their nose tissue damaged after excessive use. Other long-term effects include heart infection, swollen tissues, constipation, lung complications, sexual dysfunction, and irregular menstrual cycle for women. When it comes to effects, heroin is perhaps one of the most dangerous illegal substances out there. 

    Addiction and Overdose

    Heroin is a highly addictive substance. After using it twice or thrice, a person can easily get addicted to it. Its addiction is chemical as well as mental in nature. Thus, when a person tries to go cold turkey, there can be some severe withdrawal symptoms. These might include muscle and bone pain, diarrhea, restlessness, cold flashes and goosebumps, cravings for heroin, and uncontrollable limb movements. It’s best that one is admitted to a rehab center and is provided with medical treatment. Only a medical professional can help a long-time abuser of heroin to recover fully.

    Heroin addiction is so severe that it can ruin one’s family life, career, as well as their psyche. Another very dangerous thing about this drug is the number of overdose cases. Those who are addicted to heroin often develop a tolerance due to repeated use. Thus, they begin taking higher quantities to get the same ‘high’. That often leads to a heroin overdose, which can be fatal. When a person overdoses on heroin, their breathing stops, and not much oxygen reaches the brain. This condition is called Hypoxia. If not treated immediately, this can lead to brain damage, coma, or even death.

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