What Is Heroin Addiction?

Heroin is a strong, opiate based drug that has been devastating the lives of millions for years. This drug is often associated with making the user feel pain-free with a sense of euphoria, however heroin addiction comes with a lengthy list of side effects.

Even after a person decides to stop abusing heroin and seek help for their heroin addiction, heroin still remains an active part of their lives every day as seen in the long-term effects of heroin use. This drug is highly addictive and extremely dangerous to those that use it.

Heroin Addiction - Dark image of a man holding a heroin needle in his right hand injection it into a vein on his left arm.

One of the most common question asked is, how long does it take to get addicted to heroin? When asking this question, most want a simple response such as a few days or a few months, maybe even something as plain as three uses or fifteen uses. However, the reality is that there is no exact way to tell how long it takes to get addicted to heroin. Each user is different.

While one person might get addicted after their first use, others might not get addicted until they have been using heroin for many weeks. Also, physical addiction and physiological addiction can happen at different times. A general rule is that once heroin enters the system, it is almost guaranteed that the person will become addicted to heroin. The best way to prevent heroin addiction is to never use it in the first place and remain abstinent.

How Long is Heroin in Your System?

Multiple factors determine how long heroin can stay in your system. Drug tests are often used in recovery based environments so that the treatment team can accurately detect when a patient has relapsed or is still using heroin. Often times, when a person is aware that they will be given a drug test, it often deters them from abusing heroin so that they will not have to suffer the consequences of a positive drug test. This can prove beneficial to those seeking help from their heroin addiction. When used, heroin enters every part of your body and can be detected by urine, saliva and hair.

Different factors come into play in each individual person suffering from heroin addiction when determining how long heroin stays in your system. These factors include, frequency of use, the amount that is used, how heroin enters the body (smoking, injecting, and other methods) and an individual person’s health. Every person’s body is different and how their body filters out drugs is also different. However, even with all these different factors, there is still a very specific general guideline for how long heroin can stay in your system.

Heroin remains present in urine for 24 hours up to 72 hours. In saliva, heroin can be detected for 24 hours up to 36 hours. Hair testing can detect heroin for the longest period of time going from 5 days of last use up to 90 days.

Heroin addiction man

Heroin Addiction Effects on the Body

Heroin addiction comes with a vast array of negative effects on the body. But the question remains, what does heroin do to your body and what are the effects of heroin? Short-term and long-term health effects can be devastating to most users. Heroin addiction can wreck the same amount of havoc on a person that has been using for a short time just as it does on a person that has been abusing heroin for a long time. These effects can last for years even after heroin use has stopped.

So, what does heroin do to your body in the short-term aspect and what are the effects of heroin? Heroin can cause nausea/vomiting, itchy skin, lower body temperature, light sensitivity, dry mouth, slowed heart rate and slowed breathing. Because heroin is a sedative the parts of the body that are needed to perform basic, vital functions like breathing and heart rate can become depressed causing them to slow to a fatal rate. These effects to the body can cause respiratory arrest, heart problems, coma and even death due to a lack of oxygen traveling to the brain.

What does heroin do to your body in the long run and what are the effects of heroin? Some of these effects can be seen by decreased dental health, an extremely low immune system, weakness and malnutrition, sleeping problems, severe decreased appetite resulting in weight loss, heart disease, liver disease, collapsed veins and extreme, long-term addiction.

Once heroin addiction begins, the user’s body becomes dependent on the drug and can no longer function properly without the aid of heroin in their system. As heroin is regularly introduced into the body, heroin addicts will not only need to continue to use, but they will also need more and more to get the same effect because a tolerance is building in their body.

Heroin overdose is the most deadly side-effect of heroin addiction. Heroin overdose happens when a user takes too much of the drug and their body becomes overloaded and immediately starts to shut down. Heroin overdose deaths have quintupled in the last decade and show no signs of slowing down.

How Does Heroin Affect the Brain?

The physiology of the brain can be greatly affected by heroin addiction. Mental and emotional issues arise which cause long-term imbalances in the brain’s chemistry. The white matter of the brain will begin to deteriorate and become damaged. This affects behavior including a person’s decision-making abilities. Heroin affects the brain by causing the user to suffer from trouble concentrating, learning and organizing their thoughts.

Emotionally, heroin addiction can change a person entirely. The drug becomes the only thing that matters, it is what drives the addict to do things. Self, friends, family and others all get pushed to the side to make way for heroin. Oftentimes, heroin addiction can cause the person to have trouble in many, if not all, areas of life. Ranging from personal problems to social situations and everything in between. Difficulty holding down a job, making appointments, tending to their physical health and well-being, responsibilities and more become difficult. Heroin abuse is more than just a drug, it is something that will completely change a person down to their brain chemistry.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

A person suffering from heroin addiction will experience heroin withdrawal at some point. Whether they are unable to get heroin for a day or if they decide to stop and start the road of recovery. Heroin withdrawal begins after a person who has used heroin suddenly stops. Withdrawal happens because the body needs the drug to continue to function properly. The symptoms of withdrawal include muscle and bone pain, insomnia, restlessness, cold flashes, diarrhea, excessive vomiting and more. For 48 hours after heroin is stopped the withdrawal symptoms are at their worst and can last up to a week, even longer in some cases.

Heroin: Drug Facts

The drug facts of heroin are devastating. Not only can heroin cause short and long term effects both physically and mentally, but can also result in life-long addiction or even death. This is a drug that stays in the system for days or weeks causing harm to the body and changing the brain’s chemistry.

Heroin withdrawal symptoms can attest to just how much damage the body is suffering at the hands of heroin addiction. Only through treatment and a desire to stop heroin abuse can the road to recovery begin. If you’re ready to begin your recovery journey, reach out now to the specialists at Find Addiction Rehabs now and let them help guide your search for the best available treatment, nationwide.