How is heroin abused?

Due to its extreme euphoric effect and addictive properties, any use of heroin is considered heroin abuse. More definitions of heroin abuse and how you can address drug abuse or addiction here.

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People who use heroin do so for recreational purposes or because they are physically dependent or psychologically addicted to the illicit drug. Still, the primary way heroin is abused is injecting heroin because this is the fastest route of delivery. How does heroin works in the brain? By interacting with opiate receptors.  Still, there are many ways that heroin is abused, including snorting heroin to get high or smoking heroin.

Continue reading to learn more about how heroin is abused and how to identify the signs of heroin abuse. Then, we invite your questions about heroin use or abuse in the comments section at the end.

Can heroin be abused?

Yes, heroin can be abused. In fact, if you are taking heroin at all, then you’re abusing it. Why? By definition, heroin is an illegal narcotic which is not regulated for use by doctors or medical experts. Heroin is one of the strongest opiates out there and is considered a Scheduled I narcotic by the Controlled Substances Act, which ranks the probability of heroin abuse and dependency as highly likely.

In fact, heroin is not meant to be taken for any reason. People who use heroin do so for recreational purpose or because they are addicted to the drug. Further, when you abuse heroin, you can develop a quick dependency and/or high opiate tolerance. And the more you continue to use heroin, the more severe the addiction.

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How heroin is abused

For the most part heroin is injected into the bloodstream with the use of a needle. Others have abused heroin by snorting or smoking heroin. Is snorting heroin bad for you?  Absolutely. These routes of administration still send the drug quickly to the brain and include additional risk of infectious disease.

Heroin abuse side effects

Heroin abuse will not only cause adverse side effects to your health and body, but will impact your daily life. Basically, heroin abuse greatly impacts your ability to be part of society. When you abuse heroin, you are more than likely only thinking of how to get your hands on the drug or to mitigate the dependency and tolerance your body has developed.

Physical side effects of heroin abuse include:

  • collapsed veins
  • coma
  • death
  • delirium
  • depressed heart rate
  • hallucinations
  • HIV
  • Hepatitis
  • liver and kidney disease
  • overdose
  • slowed motor function

These are only some of the side effects from using heroin. Another thing to note is that heroin can alter your ability to feel pleasure and regulate mood. Many have a hard time withdrawing from heroin because of how painful this. Changes to your psycho-emotional like can affect your relationships and to those around you.

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Finally, when addicted, you may do anything to maintain your heroin use. To the point of stealing or hurting yourself or other people to get your hands on the drug. Other side effects of heroin use that aren’t psychological or physical may include the following:

  • homelessness
  • increased participation in criminal activities
  • legal issues
  • loss of financial security
  • prison terms
  • ruined relationships

Signs of heroin abuse

If you suspect someone of abusing heroin you will begin to notice a wide verity of changes to their behavior. They may try really hard to keep their abuse secret. But, people who suffer from severe drug abuse can’t keep it under wraps forever. If you notice strange marks on their arms or legs that mimic poke marks from needles is a good start that someone may be injecting a narcotic. Other signs of heroin abuse include:

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  • Access to top treatment centers
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  • altered moods (alternating between ecstatic and completely dissatisfied)
  • disengaged from reality
  • extreme and constant fatigue
  • have needles on their person
  • track marks
  • withdrawal from family and friends

Heroin abuse questions

There are ways you can treat a heroin abuse. You are not alone. Please leave your questions about heroin use or abuse in the comments section below. We will try to respond to you personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: Drug Abuse: Heroin and Addiction Reports
NIDA: Heroin addiction signs
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. Hello Cinthia. Once you quit heroin your methabolism will slow down and you’ll be gaining weight. But actally it’s not heroin that causes weigh loss as much as not eating does.

    So, I’d suggest you make a schedule for eating. Three healthy meals a day, work with real food and don’t skip a meal. You won’t be feeling hungry, but you have to make yourself finish your food. Concentrate on starchy carbohydrates, healthy fats, fruits and veggies, drink fluids but be carefull not to fill up on beverages, you need room for nutritive food.

  2. Hey my name is cinthia im 20 years old im 4″12 and weight 95 pounds and I have been doing heroin for two months already and loss alot weight how can I gain weight again or how I make myself hungry again I dont wanna be skinny no more and I stop a week ago

  3. Hi Rosie. These are very good questions. Yes, withdrawal symptoms manifest in heroin users who have become physically dependent on heroin after a period of daily use for a couple of weeks or more.

    Heroin withdrawal signs:

    It’s super difficult to develop trust with a heroin user after immediate withdrawal. Drug cravings are INTENSE after acute detox, and can lead to relapse. Only time can tell whether a person will stay clean, or not. Recovery programs like SMART Recovery, NA, and psychological counseling can help a person stay clean.

  4. Does a person get really sick and go through rough withdrawls ?? When their quitting heroin or trying to stop the drug??

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