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Heroin Addiction

Understanding Risks, Symptoms, Treatment Options

Heroin is an opioid drug synthesized from morphine. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder and can be inhaled by sniffing or snorting, smoked or injected.  All three ways of consumption deliver the drug to the brain very rapidly.

When Heroin enters the brain it is converted back to morphine and binds to molecules on cells known as opioid receptors. These receptors are throughout the brain and body and are involved in the perception of pain and in reward.

Tolerance is common with drugs like Heroin when used over a period of time.  It begins taking a higher dose of the drug to achieve the desired response originally achieved.
Continued heroin use can also lead to dependence.  The body will require the continued use of heroin in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Heroin use disorder is associated with a number of serious health conditions, including fatal overdose, spontaneous abortion, and infectious diseases like Hepatitis and HIV.  Chronic Heroin dependence may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, constipation and gastrointestinal cramping, and liver or kidney disease.  Pulmonary complications, including various types of pneumonia, may result from the poor health of the user, as well as from heroin’s effects on breathing.

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