To return to the first part of the series, “Introduction to Heroin Abuse and Addiction” Click here.
Side Effects of Heroin: Medical Ramifications
There are many physical heroin side effects, medical consequences of chronic heroin injection use including:
- Scarred and/or collapsed veins.
- Bacterial infections of the blood vessels and heart valves.
- Abscesses (boils) and other soft-tissue infections.
- Liver or kidney disease.
- Lung complications (including various types of pneumonia and tuberculosis) may result from the poor health condition of the abuser as well as from heroin’s depressing effects on respiration.
In addition to the direct complications of heroin, since it is never sold as pure heroin there are all of the additives and “cutters” that have to be considered too; many of the additives in street heroin may include substances that do not readily dissolve and result in clogging the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain. This can cause infection or even death of small patches of cells in vital organs. Immune reactions to these or other contaminants can cause arthritis or other rheumatologic problems.
Of course, sharing of injection equipment or fluids can lead to some of the most severe consequences of heroin abuse- infections with hepatitis B and C, HIV, and a host of other bloodborne viruses, which drug abusers can be passed on sexually, and even to unborn children.
The above information is from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Research Report Series – “Heroin Abuse and Addiction”. The report is also available at NIDA’s website at www.nida.nih.gov.
Pat Moore Foundation’s drug & alcohol detox and alcohol & drug addiction treatment programs are licensed and certified by The State of California. We provide non-medical and medically managed detoxification (using Suboxone, Subutex, and Buprenorphine when appropriate) and primary residential treatment. Our individual homes are on a unique co-ed campus where we offer gender specific treatment. We are located in Costa Mesa, in Orange County, Southern California, close to Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, and only an hour’s drive from Los Angeles and San Diego. To speak with a counselor, please call us 24-hours at (888) 426-6086 or if you’d like us to contact you, send a confidential message online by filling out our online form.
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