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The Long-term Effects of Heroin

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It’s worth the effort to get your health—and your life—back on track after battling addiction.


Heroin brings with it an immediate sense of well-being. Any anxiety or pain you were experiencing is gone. You feel warm, calm and happy.

Truly, it would be a wonder drug—if it weren’t for the total devastation that comes with the drug. We all know about the short-term risks, including overdose and death. But what many fail to realize are the many ways the drug can impact your long-term physical health.

Heroin and its Effects on the Body

One of the most profound effects of heroin is the way it slows down breathing. This is one of the causes of overdose. But, even if it doesn’t kill you, repeated heroin use can cause major damage to the lungs.

Because of its profound effect on the lungs, lung diseases among heroin users are not unusual. These include lung abscesses, pneumonia, tuberculosis and widened and scarred air passages. Empyema, in which pus builds up between the lung and the chest wall, is also possible.

It’s the heart, though, that takes the most abuse. Bacteria is often present in both the needles used to inject heroin and the bits of cotton used to filter dissolved heroin. That bacteria can cause infections in the heart that sometimes destroys heart valves. Inflammation and irregular heartbeat are also common.

Other long-term physical problems include liver disease, chronic insomnia, permanent damage to nasal soft tissue, rheumatologic problems like arthritis, skin infections, a weakened immune system, collapsed veins, infertility and chronic constipation.

The long-term side effects of heroin don’t stop there, of course. The drug damages the brain and takes over your life—until there is nothing but heroin left.

Hope and Healing at The Raleigh House

At The Raleigh House, we see people get better all the time. To us, that means not just getting off of heroin, but also working to become healthy, happy and whole. Each person who walks through our doors is assigned a master’s level therapist to assist in that journey. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about the heroin addiction treatment program at The Raleigh House.

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