Nearly three million people in the US are affected by opioid use disorder (OUD). In 2020, opioid overdoses, like heroin and Fentanyl®, claimed the lives of about 68,630 people. Compared to 1999, there was a seven times higher rate of a heroin overdose in 2020. It is among the most dangerous drugs in the world after Fentany®. Sadly, heroin is readily available on the streets, so individuals, including teenagers, can get a hold of it. Below, we explain how is heroin an opioid by elucidating the opioid mechanism of action and its effects on the user.
How Is Heroin an Opioid?
Heroin is an opioid created from another drug called morphine, a substance extracted from poppy plants, and is classified as a depressant of the central nervous system. Like other depressants, heroin slows down the working of the nerves to the extent that everything around the user will slow down. In such a state, they are unable to feel pain. While heroin initially produces a rush of good feelings, it puts a person at risk of depression and anxiety in the long run.
Is heroin an opioid? The answer to this is yes. However, once it enters the brain, it turns into morphine, the substance it is created from.
How Does Heroin Affect the Nervous System? Understand the Opioid Mechanism of Action
Because heroin is an opioid, it shares the same mechanism of action as other drugs belonging to the same class. When an opioid kicks in, it affects many regions of the CNS as well as the peripheral nervous system. Primarily, there are three receptors present on the neurons that opioids act on and a total of two sites that are responsible for different effects on various parts of the body as well as interactions with other neurotransmitter systems, mainly those that are responsible for sleep, pain, pleasure, breath rate, and heart functioning.
Want to beat heroin addiction? Undergo treatment from our DEA-certified doctors by contacting us at 844.445.2563 or filling out this form.
Short term Effects of Heroin
Heroin can rush to the brain very quickly. Being a depressant and having the ability to disrupt the normal functioning of the central nervous system (CNS) may result in the following:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Slowed breath rate
- Lowered overall temperature
- Vomiting and nausea
- Heaviness in the limbs
Heroin is an opioid that can cause breathing issues, but because the user is not conscious, they may experience a coma or even death.
Long term Effects of Heroin
Long-term use of heroin can result in severely damaging health issues. Some of them are listed below:
- Developing skin infections
- More likely to contract HIV/AIDS
- Pneumonia or TB
- Problems with menstruation and pregnancy
- Kidney-related diseases
- Deteriorated heart health
- Developing tolerance
It is very important to remember that there is always a chance of overdose, which is why addiction treatments must be sought.
Mental Effects of Heroin
Heroin can cause significant damage to the brain’s chemistry. Studies show that long-term heroin use meddles with the white matter of the brain, thus negatively affecting the following cognitive abilities:
- Stress handling abilities
- Inflammation in the brain
Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
Heroin is a very dangerous drug that may cause irreversible damage to the brain, which is why many people may want to get off of it. However, due to its highly addictive nature, it can be quite challenging to get rid of heroin addiction on your own. This is because your brain becomes accustomed to the presence of the drug. Therefore, once you decide to stop consuming heroin, you may experience the following heroin withdrawal symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Upset stomach
- not being able to sleep
- Pain in different parts of the body
- Chills or cold flushes
What makes it difficult to cut on the use of heroin is that its withdrawal symptoms can be painful to deal with due to the psychological and physical dependence on the drug. The long-term use of heroin can cause intense, long-term withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Issues with sleep
- Anxiety or depression
- Mood swings
- Issues with focus
- urge to intake the drug
- Impaired decision making
- No interest in activities that once intrigued you
- Issues with memory
Though it may seem challenging to combat heroin addiction, various treatment options can help you manage this chronic condition and live a happy life.
Is Heroin an Opioid? Potential Treatment Options
Like any other chronic condition, addiction cannot be cured but can be managed and treated. However, you can live better and even overcome this issue through treatment.
When you are addicted to heroin and seek professional help, the first step is heroin medical detox, which ensures that your body is cleansed of all the toxins before starting the treatment. During this process, you are also supervised by a counselor, and a practitioner is also taking care of you.
If you or someone you care about struggles with heroin addiction, contact us at 844.445.2563 or fill out this form to undergo our detox program in Fairlawn, NJ.
FDA Approved Medication
Medications like buprenorphine and naltrexone are given to the patients to help with the extreme withdrawal symptoms. This is done under the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program. A MAT program is intended for the following purposes:
- Reducing drug urges
- Addressing withdrawal symptoms
- Reversing the damage done by opioids
- seeks to reduce the chance of relapse.
After successfully operating in New Jersey, we are now available statewide virtually in Montana, and you can get a same-day prescription by calling us at 844.445.2563.
We offer therapeutic interventions, otherwise known as behavioral interventions, to offer comprehensive addiction treatment. Therapies help enhance the effects of other treatments by addressing the deep-rooted causes of addiction. At ChoicePoint, you have a wide range of options:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Program
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy Program
- Group Therapy Program
- Individual Therapy Program
- Family Therapy Programs
Why Is Heroin an Opioid, the Worst Drug? A Nutshell
Quitting heroin is possible. Those who use heroin regularly will likely experience heroin withdrawal symptoms that include intense cravings for the drug. The painful withdrawal symptoms make quitting heroin difficult. Even when the user is determined, they feel like consuming it. However, drugs such as Buprenorphine and Suboxone® can aid in the gradual withdrawal from heroin. So, get help now!
ChoicePoint aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use disorder and mental health issues. Our team of licensed medical professionals research, edit and review the content before publishing. However, this information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For medical advice please consult your physicians or ChoicePoint's qualified staff.