Heroin has many well-known risks. The worst, of course, are overdose, death and addiction, but there are many more.
Heroin use can also cause lung abscesses, pneumonia, tuberculosis, widened and scarred air passages, liver disease, chronic insomnia, rheumatologic problems like arthritis, skin infections, a weakened immune system, infertility and chronic constipation.
In other words, it has lots of ways to destroy your health and bring misery.
And those are just the risks of heroin use in general. Depending on how you use heroin, there are a range of other serious—and potentially fatal—consequences.
The Effects of Shooting Heroin
Sharing dirty needles can expose you to HIV, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B.
The good news is that, between 2008 and 2014, the number of people who were infected with HIV when injecting drugs declined by 56 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But that still left 1,700 people who got HIV by sharing dirty needles in just 2014.
Of the 17,000 new Hepatitis C infections in the United States in 2010, 53 percent were contracted by intravenous drug users, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Meanwhile, 20 percent of the people who contracted Hepatitis B in that same year were intravenous drug users—a striking statistics given that a Hepatitis B vaccination is available.
Other risks of injection include collapsed veins, tuberculosis and even heart infection. The latter can occur when bacteria is present on needles used to inject heroin or the bits of cotton used to filter dissolved heroin. The subsequent infection can destroy heart valves.
Reusing needles (even if you don’t share them) is a bad idea due to the risk of a bacterial infection. Also, blunt needles can damage veins.
But sharing needles (no matter how you try to clean them) is never safe. The Harm Reduction Coalition was formed in 1993 to give drug users an online source for finding places where needles can be exchanged.
Getting clean needles can protect you from HIV—but only if you don’t engage in unsafe sex.
And all other risks of heroin, including death and addiction, are still there.
Hope and The Raleigh House
Heroin is a highly addictive drug that, despite what you may know and want for you life, can be incredibly hard to break free from on your own. At the Raleigh House, our first priority is to make you feel safe and comfortable. After that, our team of experts gets to work. You will be assigned your own master’s level trained therapist. Together, you’ll make a plan for rehab—and for the future. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about the heroin addiction treatment program at The Raleigh House.