Effects of Heroin on the Brain

Many people that start to substance use normally start in their adolescence years, and it progresses during their adulthood, but many do not continue during their middle adulthood due to the health risk that arises. Opioid, Alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, and prescription medications, are the most commonly misused substances among all ages. However, the use of drugs and the pattern that each person uses is different depending on what stage of their life they are in. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), about 948,000 Americans start using heroin just last year alone. The center for disease control and prevention has an economic burden of opioid misuse in the United States alone of about $78.5 billion per year that includes the loss of productivity, healthcare cost, and addiction treatment.

Let’s begin by discussing the main issue in today’s society and one of the most toxic drugs to be known which is Heroin others call it Horse, black tar, 8-ball, and smack. Heroin is a drug that can be made from morphine, it has some natural substance that comes from seeds from various opium plants that grow from the southwest and southeast Asia, Colombia and Mexico. Opioids such as Vicodin and OxyContin can use a form of heroin. Heroin is described as a white powder sometimes it can be black or brown, and sometimes it can be a black sticky substance that is also known as black tar. Many use heroin by either smoking it, snort, sniff and must common by injecting the substance to their veins.

The primary way to use heroin is by being injected or smoked. When the person starts using heroin they start to feel a high and a rush feeling that lasts about two minutes and it normally happens right after the drug is administered. Some user describes the feeling as an intense feeling that they feel through their body especially their abdomen. After the rush pass, they start to have a high feeling that can last from four to six hours. The person feels pleasant and warm with indifference to internal and external stimuli. Heroin enters the brain rapidly and it helps with controlling cells that are involved with pain, breathing, heart rate and sleeping.

Heroin activates the receptors of the brain, the opioid receptors which regulate pain and release hormones and feelings. When those receptors are activated by heroin they have a rush that normally is associated with a warm feeling through the skin, a heavy feeling of extremities and a dry mouth. Some people may also feel severe itchiness, vomiting, and nausea. Some have drowsiness that can last a few hours, they may feel their heart rate slowing down, they may not think straight or have cloudy memories of what they did during their high stage, and the most common is severe slow breathing sometimes the slow breathing can lead to brain damage and a coma.

Neurotransmission is a part of the brain that responses to the environment and to the experiences. The brain uses neuron to release information from neuron to neuron by using electricity and neurotransmitters. The main purpose of neurotransmission is to carry a signal a neuron to another neuron about the environment and our internal states to shape the way we respond. Heroin can alter the way a person thinks, behave and feel by disrupting neurotransmission. The continuous drug uses can have a change in our brain, when a person is a addicted to a substance like heroin it causes a disrupt communication in the brain, this will cause a person to continue to use the drug due to the lack of neurotransmitters.

Our body naturally produces opiate like substance those substance are also known as endogenous opioids which help us modulate the way with react towards painful stimuli. Endogenous opioids they regulate important functions such as thirst, immune responses, thirst, mood control and other processes. But using heroin can affect neurotransmitters because they produce some of the same effect that transmitters produce and it can decrease alertness, slow respiration and increase analgesia if we alter neurotransmission by using heroin or any drug that alters them it can have effect of inducing health problem that may be long lasting and it can also cause them to use the drug repeatedly.

Heroin is a toxic drug that has a lethal dose less than 10 time its typical effective dose, is small doses of heroin can be enhanced if the person uses other depressant drugs.some people may overdose after having an abstinence period. Heroin has great risk many people that use heroin especially if they are injected have a high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS especially for people that has not monitor their health.

  • Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance taken from the seed pod of various opium poppy plants.
  • Heroin can be a white or brown powder, or a black sticky substance known as black tar heroin.
  • People inject, sniff, snort, or smoke heroin. Some people mix heroin with crack cocaine, called


  • Heroin enters the brain rapidly and binds to opioid receptors on cells located in many areas, especially those involved in feelings of pain and pleasure and in controlling heart rate, sleeping, and breathing.
  • People who use heroin report feeling a “rush” (or euphoria). Other common effects include dry mouth, heavy feelings in the arms and legs, and clouded mental functioning.
  • Long-term effects may include collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, and lung complications.
  • Research suggests that misuse of prescription opioid pain medicine is a risk factor for starting heroin use.
  • A person can overdose on heroin. Naloxone is a medicine that can treat a heroin overdose when given right away, though more than one dose may be needed.
  • Heroin can lead to addiction, a form of substance use disorder. Withdrawal symptoms include severe muscle and bone pain, sleep problems, diarrhea and vomiting, and severe heroin cravings.
  • A range of treatments including medicines and behavioral therapies are effective in helping people stop heroin use. However, treatment plans should be individualized to meet the needs of the patient.

Effects of Heroin on the Brain

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