The Long-Term Side Effects of Heroin

The Long-Term Side Effects of Heroin

Long-term Side Effects of Heroin

Long-term abuse of heroin can lead to devastating effects on your brain and body. Although it may seem hard to see past how great the immediate high feels, you must seek help right away to beat this addiction. The long-term side effects of heroin will take over your life.

The Long-Term Side Effects of Heroin

Long-Term Side Effects of Heroin on the Brain

Repeated heroin use causes major changes to the brain. These changes occur mainly in the functional areas associated with complex thought, decision-making, social behavior, and long-term memory. Because of the damage done to these parts of the brain, long-term users in recovery often find it hard to make goals they can work toward. They’ll be able to practice methods to avoiding relapse, but due to their poor memory, they won’t be able to put what they learned into action.

  • Worsened executive functioning
    • Poor task flexibility
    • Decrease in reasoning skills
    • Decrease in problem-solving skills
    • Poor planning
  • Impaired memory
  • Decreased decision-making abilities
  • Impaired emotional processing
  • Impaired behavior regulation
  • Struggle to imagine future events and interactions

Long-Term Side Effects of Heroin on the Body

While the high is experienced because of chemical interactions in the brain, heroin can still have devastating effects on the body. The drug, regardless of how it is administered, has to travel through the user’s bloodstream, leaving behind destruction in its wake.

  • Insomnia
  • Constipation
  • Sexual dysfunction (men and women)
  • Irregular menstrual cycles or spontaneous abortion
  • Kidney diseases

Heroin can have additional effects on the body based on how it is taken by the user – snorting, smoking or injecting.


  • Damaged mucous tissues in the nose
    • Sinus problems
    • Nose bleeds
  • Damage to the nasal septum, the thin cartilage wall that separates the two nostrils
    • Septal perforation
    • Septal deviation


  • Lung damage
    • Cancer
    • Emphysema
    • Pneumonia
    • Tuberculosis
    • Pulmonary edema
  • Throat cancer
  • Breathing problems
    • Asthma


  • Collapsed veins – leading to inadequate blood flow throughout the body
  • Heart infections
  • Pus-filled sores (abscesses)
  •  Clogged blood vessels (from impure heroin)
  • Shared-needle infections
    • Hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS

When injected, heroin can produce quick, intense effects. Purity and potency vary with each batch, which means an IV user is at a higher risk of overdosing. Heroin overdose causes a dramatic drop in the user’s heart rate and breathing. This could lead to death if they do not receive immediate medical attention.

Do you have any questions about the long-term side effects of heroin? Let us know. And if you or someone you know if struggling with an addiction of any kind, give us a call today at 855.981.2020.

Artesian Recovery & Wellness Centers, LLC is all about recovery that lasts. Our holistic approach is what sets us apart from traditional treatment centers.  A fresh start is a beautiful thing, so let us join you on your path to recovery.  Contact us today.

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