August 22, 2021
How Does Heroin Abuse Affect Your Mental Health 21775 - How Does Heroin Abuse Affect Your Mental Health?

The short and long-term mental health effects of heroin are evidence of its devastating nature to individuals. Smoking or snorting are common ways to take heroin. But a more dangerous way of intake is getting heroin injected, which carries a larger risk for an overdose. However, early deaddiction procedures from a drug and alcohol rehab in Portland can minimize mental health damages to a large extent.

Heroin And The Opioid System

Heroin is a highly addictive drug from the opium poppy flower. Opium plants also are a source of morphine. The synthesized process gives heroin its opiate properties. As such, heroin directly targets the opioid receptors in the human brain, which are the primary pain regulators. The human opioid system also controls the way a person realizes sensation and predicts being rewarded. That makes substances like heroin even more dangerous because their effective painkilling effect can easily turn into an addiction. The chemical properties of heroin make it act faster than most opioid drugs. When injected into the vein, it can reach the brain through the bloodstream in merely 10 seconds. The drug molecules hit the receptors and immediately affect the sense of pain and happiness.

Impact On The Brain

The tolerance to heroin doses increases with each use. Consequently, users become compelled to increase their doses to attain the same level of tranquility. But such constant bombardment of a powerful opioid can change the brain structure by affecting the receptors. This means the neuronal and hormonal systems are also affected. To make things worse, these changes to the brain are not easily correctable. Heroin abuse disrupts the brain’s white matter that allows the transmission of chemical and electrical signals within.

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Similar damages can be observed in the brain’s grey matter as well. These regions control muscle movements and human sensations like sight, hearing, decision making, and general behavior. Progressive use of heroin might decrease the overall density of the grey matter in the frontal brain cortex, influencing human understanding and recollection abilities. Moreover, as users continue heroin intakes to get high, their ability to make decisions and control their behavior decreases significantly.

Mental Effects Of Heroin

Restrictive abilities to think, decide and behave normally are some of the short-term mental outcomes for heroin abuse. Such psychological effects occur due to a gradual increase of tolerance towards the drug. A chronic user’s brain is forced to create additional opiate receptors to accommodate the ever-increasing influx of opium. But the problem here is that there will always be more new receptors than available heroin. This compels users to use more and more of the drug in an attempt to mimic the first experience. Different forms of psychosis including anxiety and depression can be a result of this. Long-term consequences of heroin abuse can thus lead to serious mental illness in individuals.

User’s brains trying to cope with the increasing influx of heroin suffer from diminishing dopamine production. Dopamine is an essential neurotransmitter that is released in response to feelings of happiness. Heroin can override dopamine production due to its immensely powerful hijack of the brain’s pleasure pathways. It takes over the brain’s ability for dopamine self-production to distort the perceptions of pleasure and contentment. Continued heroin abuse thereby cancels the effect of any other source of gratification. Withdrawal from heroin addiction invariably means a feeling of hopelessness and extreme depression.

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Withdrawal From Heroin Addiction

Continuous use of heroin becomes inevitable for consumers. The developed tolerance however doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t harm the body and brain. Heroin addiction creates a strong dependency which makes withdrawal that much harder. Treatments often combine medication along with behavioral therapy to ease withdrawal symptoms. Since heroin changes mental functions over time, the risk of relapse exists even after years of discontinuation. So recovering patients need to take extra care and precaution after completing their treatment and therapies for a long time.

With persistent efforts, it is possible for addicts to turn their backs on heroin. It takes cumulative hard work from consultant medics, friends, and family to support through the withdrawal phases for an individual. Prescribed drugs like buprenorphine and methadone work in a similar manner to heroin but they are safe and have a longer-lasting effect on the brain. Supplementary mindfulness therapy can help to cope better with stress and other triggers.

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