Heroin is an opioid made from morphine, commonly ingested by injecting, or “shooting up,” but also sniffed, snorted and smoked. Users on heroin are commonly referred to as, “nodding out,” a side effect of use and very dangerous. Heroin misuse can commonly lead to an addiction or Substance Abuse Disorder and should not be taken lightly.
Invented in 1874, Heroin is made from opium and morphine. It’s original use included treating pain and morphine addiction and was prescribed up into the 1920s. In 1924, Heroin was made illegal due to misuse.
What Happens With Heroin Use
Heroin has seemingly positive effects when first used. Individuals who use heroin typically feel a rush of pleasure or euphoria followed by ill side effects.
The short-term effects include:
- Severe itching
- A clouded mind
- Nausea or vomiting
- Heaviness in the arms and legs
- Dry mouth
- “Nodding out”
Nodding out refers to an individual’s reaction to ingesting heroin and is serious because unlike other effects of Heroin use, it doesn’t appear as severe or dangerous. However, it is usually a sign of substance abuse issues and possibly even overdose. The largest sign of an individual nodding out is if they appear to be going into a state of sleep but are unable to be awoken or totally unable to speak.
For individuals who use Heroin long-term, more severe consequences are likely, such as:
- Liver and kidney disease
- Collapses veins
- Lung complication
- Mental disorders
- Damaged tissue in the nose
- Sexual dysfunction
- Infections of the heart
Additionally, those who share injection equipment are at a higher risk of getting infectious diseases such as hepatitis or HIV. More frequent use of the drug will most likely lead to a substance addiction where professional treatment is needed.
Highly addictive, it’s reported that 3 million US citizens and 16 million worldwide have or do suffer from opioid use disorder. For Heroin users, it’s common that they first began misusing legal prescribed opioid pain modifications, such as OxyContin, before switching to Heroine.
Common signs to look out for with a Heroin addiction include:
- Mood swings
- Skin irritations, such as scabs or bruises, from picking at the skin
- Increased irritability
- Dishonesty about drug use
- Track marks on arms and legs
- Decreased motivation
- Possession of objects used to ingest, such as needles/syringes, glass pipes, or burned spoons
Withdrawal symptoms of Heroin can include:
- Muscle aches and pains
- Craving for heroin
- Cold sweats or extreme sweating
- Possible death
Heroin overdose is common in addicts. Symptoms include:
- Symptoms of nodding out – inability to stay awake or talk
- Completely limp body
- Slowed or stopped breathing
- Blue or purple lips and fingernails
If you see someone with any of the above symptoms, seek emergency medical attention immediately. If you or a loved one is struggling with abusing heroin or a heroin addiction, treatment is available and hope is not lost.