Heroin Effects on the Body

Heroin effects on the body occurs in a multitude of ways. Let’s first look at what heroin is and that will help you understand how and why it affects the person using it.

 Heroin is an opioid analgesic (painkiller) which at the molecular level is morphine, derived from the poppy plant. When discussing heroin, we are generally speaking about the raw form which is hydrochloride salt, the chemical derivative of diacetylmorphine hydrochloride.

When we speak of heroin, we are referring to the illicit street name of the medicine diamorphine. Street names for heroin include: Black Tar, H, Horse, Smack, Brown, and Dope. There has been a recent resurgence in the use of heroin, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has published reports showing a major growth in use since the 70’s. This new growth is attributed to young users who smoke, or snort a more pure form than injectable heroin.

When a person uses heroin they report getting an almost immediate “rush”. This rush is caused by the chemicals binding to the many opiate receptors throughout the brain. This binding causes an intense euphoria in the person. The rush last briefly but leaves a relaxed feeling, and state of contentment for several hours. If a person uses heroin on a regular basis, the body will begin to adjust to the drug. The result is the individual will often build up a tolerance to the heroin effects and have to use more of the drug to feel the same rush. Given time, the usage will progress until the person is addicted and can not go without using or they become sick from withdraws.

Short term Heroin Effects

The short term effects of heroin are:

Central Nervous System


Alternately drowsy and alert state


Dryness of the mouth


Warm flushing of the skin


Respiratory System

Suppressed or slowed breathing



 Muscular Weakness


Long Term Heroin Effects

The long term effects of heroin are:

Central Nervous System





Respiratory System




-Infection of heart lining and valves.


Circulatory System

-Collapsed veins



-Decreased liver function


Systemic System


Withdraw Effects of Heroin

The withdrawal effects of heroin can begin to onset a person between six and twenty-four hours after quitting. This depends largely on a person’s usage both in the amount and frequency.

Here are some of the effects of heroin withdrawl:






-Muscle aches

-Bone aches






©Copyright 2015 Substance Abuse Recovery Network – Heroin Effects

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