The Dangers of Smoking Heroin

Heroin is a powerfully addictive drug that can be injected, smoked, or snorted. Many people believe that injecting heroin is the most dangerous way to use this drug. While injection does carry some additional risks from needle-sharing and the way it enters the bloodstream, smoking heroin is dangerous and poses a significant risk of addiction.

If you are abusing heroin or need treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, you are not alone. With the right treatment, you can recover from addiction and learn to live the healthy, fulfilling lifestyle you choose. For information about the dangers of smoking heroin or to learn about how to get started in a treatment program, reach out to the specialists at Addiction Intervention today.

Methods of Smoking Heroin

People smoke both powdered and black tar forms of heroin. Heroin is often smoked in glass pipes or heated in foil to inhale the fumes that are created. Sometimes people add heroin to joints or cigarettes.

Dangers of Smoking Heroin

Smoking heroin allows more of the drug to get to the brain quickly. Like injection, smoking heroin poses a high risk of addiction–and addiction can happen quickly. Heroin addiction can lead to severe consequences for your health and safety. People who become addicted to heroin often experience serious harm to their mental and physical well-being and life-altering financial and legal problems.

People who smoke heroin face the risk of overdose, especially if they haven’t developed tolerance to the drug and unknowingly smoke it in a joint or cigarette. Because heroin is such a potent opioid, it is possible to overdose on the drug any way you use it.

In addition to the serious risk of overdose, some of the dangers of smoking heroin include:[1]

  • Lung damage
  • Asthma or worsening of asthma symptoms
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Chronic coughing
  • Respiratory depression (dangerously, sometimes life-threatening slow breathing)

People who smoke heroin are also more prone to engaging in dangerous behavior, including illegal activities and risky sex.

Short-Term and Long-Term Symptoms of Heroin Use

After using heroin, people experience the effects of the drug. These can include relaxation, slowed breathing, euphoria, difficulty concentrating, and itching. Some people experience nausea, warm or flushed skin, and dry mouth.

Over time, the symptoms of prolonged or frequent heroin use may develop. These include:[2]

  • Insomnia
  • Constipation
  • Brain damage–specifically, deterioration of white matter
  • New or worsening mental health symptoms
  • Hormonal imbalances that cause infertility and/or sexual dysfunction

People with an addiction to heroin are also at risk of a life-threatening overdose. This can occur at any point and is often unexpected. If you or a loved one uses heroin, know the signs of overdose and seek professional support immediately.

Recognizing the Signs of Heroin Overdose

An overdose is a serious, often life-threatening event. If you or someone else is showing the signs of a heroin overdose, you must seek immediate medical attention. The signs of a heroin overdose include:[3]

  • Blue lips or nails
  • Shallow, slow, or stopped breathing
  • Constricted (very small) pupils
  • Drowsiness
  • Low blood pressure

An overdose can occur anytime a person uses heroin. The method of use–injection, smoking, or snorting–doesn’t matter. The risk of a heroin overdose is high. The only way to avoid the risk of a heroin overdose is to stop using heroin. For most people, this means getting professional treatment.

Treatment for Heroin Abuse

Heroin abuse treatment and other forms of addiction treatment occur in stages. For the best chance at long-term recovery from substance abuse and addiction, people must receive comprehensive treatment that addresses the physical, emotional, social, and environmental causes of addiction.

Detox

Because heroin is so potent and addictive, many people require detox before starting a treatment program. In a medically supervised detox program, people are monitored and treated for uncomfortable or dangerous withdrawal symptoms. This helps them achieve a safe, complete detox from heroin.

Treatment

After detox, people can begin a treatment program that will help them identify and heal the factors that contribute to their addiction. People also learn coping skills that will help them maintain sobriety and avoid relapse for the rest of their life.

Aftercare

Heroin addiction is never truly cured, and people must find ways to stay active and engaged in recovery for life. This can include other types of treatment programs, support groups, alumni networks, and individual counseling.

Choosing to seek addiction treatment is one of the most important decisions a person can make in their lifetime. With the right treatment and support, anyone can recover from addiction. Don’t wait for the help you need. Get help today.

Learn More About the Dangers of Smoking Heroin by Reaching Out to Addiction Intervention

If you or someone you love needs addiction treatment or you want support at any stage of addiction recovery, reach out to the specialists at Addiction Intervention. We offer a range of services that can help you overcome addiction and live the life you choose. Reach out today.

References:

  1. https://harmreductionjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12954-019-0337-z
  2. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-long-term-effects-heroin-use
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470415/

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