Is Heroin a Stimulant? Understand the Effects of Heroin

The answer to “Is heroin a stimulant?” simply put, is no. Heroin is a depressant that slows down processes of the body controlled by the central nervous system. Heroin directly affects brain function and breathing to the point of slowing down or stopping both.

Body temperature and blood pressure can drop, as well. Under heroin, your heartbeat can also become irregular. Heroin use can even lead to a loss of consciousness or even lapse into a coma. Heroin is a dangerous drug that is highly addictive and poses severe short-term and long-term effects. 

The impact heroin has on the individual is dependent upon:

  • Strength of dose
  • Other drugs taken at the same time
  • The person’s size and weight
  • Their general state of mind
  • Presence of health conditions

What Exactly is Heroin?

Heroin is an illegal, extremely addictive drug processed from morphine, which is a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of certain varieties of poppy plants. It is generally sold as a white or brownish powder that is “cut” with sugars, starch, powdered milk, or quinine. Pure heroin is a white powder with a bitter taste that predominantly originated in South America and, to a lesser extent, from Southeast Asia, and has taken over the U.S. markets.

In other words, heroin is a potent opiate that severely affects the brain’s reward system.

Heroin rigs this reward system by influencing the production of feel-good chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine and endorphins.

What’s the Difference Between a Stimulant and Depressant?

Most addictive drugs can be put into one of two classes: stimulants and depressants. The most important differences between the two can be noted in their two names. Stimulants stimulate the central nervous system. On the other hand, depressants do the opposite, slowing it and all the parts of the body that are controlled by the central nervous system.

There are many other differences between the two as well. Due to the nationwide drug epidemic, it’s crucial to educate yourself on this topic. Understanding the effects of each type of drug will enable you to recognize the signs of abuse, addiction, and overdose. Stimulants and depressants claim many lives every year due to overdose and other health problems related to long-term abuse. 

The most commonly used and abused stimulants include:

  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • Cocaine/crack cocaine
  • Methamphetamine (meth)
  • MDMA (ecstasy)
  • Adderall
  • Ritalin

Common depressants with abuse potential include:

  • Alcohol
  • Heroin
  • Morphine
  • Vicodin
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • OxyContin
  • Valium
  • Xanax
  • Amobarbital
  • Phenobarbital

Addiction is a serious disease. Being addicted to a stimulant by the name of heroin can have fatal consequences. It strips joy away from the addict’s life, and affects those around them as well.

What are the Effects of a Stimulant Such As Heroin?

The exact effect of heroin on a person’s health will depend on several factors, including the person’s existing health status, stature, weight, and sex. Other aspects that must be factored in are the volume of drug intake, method of drug intake, length of abuse, simultaneous use of alcohol or other drugs, and whether there is an underlying psychiatric condition. Our trained addiction specialists will help evaluate each patient’s unique circumstances.

It’s important to know that even short-term heroin use causes serious health effects. There’s a serious risk in using the stimulant heroin. Whether it’s short-term or long-term use, it is highly dangerous nonetheless. 

After heroin use, a person will generally experience short-term health-related effects, such as:

  • A euphoric rush (can last 3-5 hours)
  • A trance-like state (for 4-6 hours)
  • Warm, flushed skin
  • Sensation of heaviness in limbs
  • Severe itching
  • Nausea, vomiting, and appetite loss
  • Runny nose and watery eyes
  • Unnatural relaxation
  • Slow breathing and slow heart rate
  • Drowsiness
  • Small pupils
  • Muddled thinking

The continued use of heroin leads to physical dependence. Physical dependence is a dangerous effect after long-term exposure. Physical dependence is the body’s response to the drug’s ongoing presence. 

Tolerance and withdrawal are two of the main signs that signal your body has become physically dependent on heroin. Over time, a person will need more of the same drug to achieve the desired effects.

What are the Long-Term Effects of Heroin?

After using heroin for a substantial amount of time, there will be changes in the physical structure and physiology of the brain. Consequently, this creates long-term imbalances in neuronal and hormonal systems that are not easily reversed. Studies have shown some deterioration of the brain’s white matter due to heroin use. This may affect decision-making abilities, the ability to regulate behavior, and responses to stressful situations.

Another severe long-term effect of heroin comes from the sharing of needles that many addicts partake in. This leads to AIDS and other contagious infections. Approximately, 35,000 new hepatitis C2 (liver disease) infections each year in the United States, over 70% are from drug users who use needles.

There are many other long-term impacts that heroin use has. Some of the many long-term effects include:

  • Bad teeth
  • Inflammation of the gums
  • Respiratory (breathing) illnesses
  • Muscular weakness, partial paralysis
  • Reduced sexual capacity and long-term impotence in men
  • Menstrual disturbance in women
  • Inability to achieve orgasm (women and men)
  • Loss of memory and intellectual performance
  • Depression
  • Pustules on the face

Heroin Addiction: The Harsh Statistics

The statistics of heroin use in America reveal a terrifying truth. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2016, about 948,000 Americans reported using heroin in the past year, a number that has been on the rise since 2007. This trend appears to be driven largely by young adults aged 18–25 among whom there have been the greatest increases.

The number of people using heroin for the first time is also high. 170,000 people starting heroin use in 2016, nearly double the number of people in 2006 (90,000). To make matters worse, over 15,000 people died from drug overdoses involving heroin in the United States, a rate of almost 5 deaths for every 100,000 Americans, in 2017.

We must help those that are addicted to heroin. Heroin is a dangerous stimulant that is claiming thousands of lives throughout the country.

Treatment for Heroin Addiction 

Heroin is addictive due to its euphoric effects. Although these may seem enticing at first, they subside quickly. People may also start using heroin to avoid withdrawal symptoms. This becomes a toxic cycle of heroin use and addiction.

Fortunately, there is treatment available. No matter how lost you may feel, you can choose to seek help and get better. On the other side of pain is growth. Rehab offers addicts a second chance.

Treatment is broken apart into stages. Detox is typically the first step of treatment. Detox is the process of ridding your body of toxins accumulated through substance abuse. After detox, the treatment plan will start. Different components make up a quality treatment plan.

These components include:

  1. Pharmacological Treatments: Prescription drug treatments that alleviate symptoms of withdrawal.
  2. Behavioral Therapy: Two popular forms of behavioral treatment are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management (CM). CBT is similar to standard therapy and focuses on addressing behaviors related to drug use. CM is less common and is a voucher system where people are rewarded items or prizes based on clean urine drug screens.
  3. Combination Therapy: A combination of pharmacological and behavioral therapy. Most people will need a combination of these types of therapies.

Levels of Care

There are a variety of different routes a patient can choose to take. The most popular ones include inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization, and outpatient treatment. Keep reading to learn more about the programs and how they can help you or a loved one.

Level 1: Outpatient Services

A common and popular option is an outpatient rehab program. Outpatient rehabilitation is considered less intense treatment. With this approach, you’ll have scheduled days and times for treatment at the center. After treatment, you’re able to go back home. This treatment works best for those with less severe addictions or those with serious obligations.

Level 2: Intensive Outpatient/Partial Hospitalization Services

After completing an inpatient treatment program, many patients transition into a day/night treatment program. This is also referred to as a partial hospitalization program (PHP). This type of treatment program offers on-site counseling, support groups, and educational lectures.

However, the difference is that patients do not live at our facility. Instead, they travel to our facility on their assigned hours and days. Typically, patients are expected to commit to anywhere from 4 to 8 hours of therapy each day. 

Patients with more complex needs, such as those with a co-occurring disorder, may be best suited for an intensive outpatient program (IOP) or a partial hospitalization program (PHP). In an IOP, patients receive treatment for nine to 20 hours per week. They also consistently meet with physicians, psychiatrists, and therapists. 

Many intensive outpatient programs are provided for short periods during the day or on evenings and weekends. If you have outside obligations you must attend to, and IOP may suit your needs best. 

Level 3: Residential/Inpatient Services

Residential treatment programs offer the highest level of care possible. Patients receive 24/7 medical attention and supervision. They can receive help whenever they need it. With an inpatient program, patients will move to the rehab facility anywhere from 30 to 90 days.

Twenty-eight days is usually considered to be the standard. Ninety days is considered long-term care. Patients in inpatient programs receive quite a lot of different therapies. They receive addiction treatment from morning tonight. A residential inpatient program allows patients to fully focus on their recovery and nothing else. 

We’re Waiting For Your Call

At Coastal Detox, we offer a variety of amenities and services to ensure your safety and comfort. Heroin is a dangerous stimulant that has detrimental short-term and long-term effects. That’s why it’s crucial to treat the addiction from the inside out.

Our trained medical staff will attend to your needs and help give you the tools for a long-lasting and heroin-free life. With the right support and treatment, you’ll set forward on the road to recovery. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to give us a call. You can contact us here or call us to begin your recovery journey today. 

References:

https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/heroin/long-term-effects.html

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-long-term-effects-heroin-use

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin

https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/heroin.html

Real Client Testimonials

  • Thank you Costal Detox, 9 months sober now and loving every bit of it! I hate how mean I was while detoxing but then again it’s all part of the process. The staff were so caring and kind - helpful in so many ways! The environment was so comfortable and pleasing to be in!

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    Addison R.
    6/08/2019
  • Thank you Costal Detox, 9 months sober now and loving every bit of it! I hate how mean I was while detoxing but then again it’s all part of the process. The staff were so caring and kind - helpful in so many ways! The environment was so comfortable and pleasing to be in!

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    Addison R.
    6/08/2019
  • My loved one went to went to Coastal Detox and did awesome there. Great clinical and BHT department. Staff is wonderful as well as the food. Every client gets one on one attention from staff members. The holistic services are very effective. Highly recommend Coastal Detox.

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    9/19/2018
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    2/14/2020
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