While heroin use is often glamorized in movies, the truth is this drug is one of the most dangerous drugs in the world. At no point is heroin use safe. It is classified as a Schedule I substance by the DEA. This classification means that heroin is highly addictive and has no medical use.1 Whether the drug is snorted, smoked or injected it is still very dangerous. In fact, using the drug repeatedly over an extended period of time creates a number of serious physical and psychological problems.
Here is a summary of the most significant long-term effects of heroin use:
One of the most common, and serious, health problems associated with long-term heroin use is heart disease. Heroin use can lead to both infections and malfunctions in the areas that surround the user’s heart. As a result, the drug can lead to heart failure and pulmonary complications. If someone has a family history of heart disease, he is even more susceptible to heart-related problems.
Heroin use leads to prolonged stress on the body and kidney disease. When an individual loses function of his kidneys, he is at a greater risk of serious illness or death. Kidney disease is one of the less talked about consequences of heroin use, but remains a great risk for long-term heroin users. The kidneys remove waste from the body, so heroin abuse essentially overworks the kidneys.
HIV and Hepatitis
Those who inject heroin with a syringe face unique health risks.The sharing of needles with other users is the quickest way to contract HIV, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C. This is a very serious health concern as over 130 million people in the world have Hepatitis C.2 Studies have shown that high percentages of HIV and Hepatitis cases come from shared needle use.
Pneumonia and TB
Heroin use affects the body’s ability to fight disease.When you combine a weakened immune system with the generally unhealthy lifestyle of the long-term heroin user, you’ve got a breeding ground for serious viral illnesses that can be deadly. Some examples include: pneumonia and tuberculosis and more.
Greater Chance of Overdose
The more an individual uses heroin over the years, the greater the chance that they suffer an accidental overdose. Sadly, drug overdose is a reality for heroin users. Not all heroin is the same strength. Because heroin is an illegal unregulated drug, there is always a chance of receiving a bad dose that is cut with something harmful from a dealer looking to increase profits.
A Life Turned Upside Down
One of the most devastating consequences of long-term heroin use is the addiction itself. The never-ending pursuit for more heroin causes individuals to lose everything in their lives: their health, their family, finances, friends and more. Sadly, heroin users often find themselves selling off all of their possessions and eventually turning to criminal behavior as a way to pay for drugs. However, there is hope for a better life.
Javier, who shares his story at Heroes in Recovery, got help and got his life back:
“I have now been sober since October 2, 2012 by the grace of God,’ he writes. “Now I am the person who I used to be before I started using and drinking. Now I work as a peer recovery coach at a non-profit organization. I share my story of strength and hope there.”
If the losses in your life are stacking up due to drug addiction, it is not too late. We at Michael’s House are ready to help. Michael’s House provides complete drug treatment programs for long-term heroin users as well as anyone else with a drug problem. We are proud to offer the highest quality comprehensive treatment programs available. Don’t wait another day. Please contact Michael’s House today at 760-548-4032.
1 “Drug Schedules.” DEA.Accessed 7 February 2018.
2 Pietrangelo, Ann. “Hepatitis C by the Numbers: Facts, Stats, & You.” Healthline. Accessed 7 February 2018.