For a loved one living with a heroin addiction, the pain and turmoil they have endured has followed them day to day for far too long, and it has caused them to feel lost, isolated, and alone. Your loved one’s substance use disorder is causing total destruction on their physical wellbeing and absolute devastation in every other aspect of their life.
Long-term heroin use has been shown to negatively impact a wide variety of organ functions, from the heart to the lungs to the brain and everything in between. Your loved one can also develop a compromised immune system and live with an increased risk of getting seriously ill or worse because of their heroin use.
As an advocate for your loved one, it’s critical that you understand how heroin impacts their respiratory system and why it is imperative to support their progress toward recovery.
Heroin Can Be Consumed in 3 Ways
There are three primary methods of ingesting heroin, all of which cause significant damage to the user.
Diseases like HIV and hepatitis pose a serious threat to injection drug users. In situations where medical attention isn’t an option, these diseases quickly deteriorate the health of the user. Both can eventually lead to death without proper care, and in many drug-sharing communities, these risks are often seen as commonplace.
When someone snorts heroin, they can cause serious damage to the mucus membranes in their nose, throat and nasal passageways. This damage can lead to trouble swallowing, loss of sense of smell and create a hole in the septum.
Inhaling heroin can cause a set of health problems different from those caused by other methods of administration. Smoking the drug puts significant strain on the lungs and respiratory system, and it can result in labored breathing, reduced lung function and deterioration of the central nervous system.
Each method destroys the human body in a specific way, damaging tissue and functionality of various organs and bodily tasks. No matter what your loved one may think, there is absolutely no safe way to consume heroin.
How Smoking Heroin Affects the Lungs
When someone smokes heroin, they tend to experience their high at a slower rate. While the initial impact of smoking takes longer to hit them, the damage done to their lungs and respiratory system is immediate.
From exasperated asthma to the air being blocked from entering the lungs appropriately, smoking heroin is as detrimental to the human body as any other form of ingestion and can easily result in as overdose.
Effects of Heroin on the Lungs and Respiratory System
Both the short-term and long-term effects of smoking heroin are well documented. From minor functionality issues to severe disease and deterioration, continued heroin use has been directly tied to serious physical complications and increased risk of death.
This is due to the way that heroin attacks the lung’s ability to properly function. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, smoking the drug can damage the lungs and increase the risk of respiratory diseases, including pneumonia and bronchitis.
Smoking heroin for an extended period of time can also result in the following:
- Leukoencephalopathy – This refers to disorders of brain white matter. Neurologists have long appreciated the importance of white matter in the normal function of the central nervous system, and much is known of the effects of white matter lesions on motor and sensory systems.
- Dyspnea – This is the medical term for shortness of breath, sometimes described as “air hunger.” It is an uncomfortable feeling. Shortness of breath can range from mild and temporary to serious and long-lasting.
- Acute severe asthma – Known as a severe asthma exacerbation, it refers to an asthma attack that doesn’t improve with traditional treatments, such as inhaled bronchodilators.
The dangers of smoking heroin are just as real and disastrous as any other means of ingestion. That is why making the decision to get professional clinical help to overcome a heroin addiction is so important. It can literally mean the difference between life and death.
Your Loved One Can Still Forge a Healthy, Sober Future
Regardless of where your loved one is in their addiction, there is no time like the present to begin their path to recovery.
Helping them remember how valuable they are and how much support they have can be just what they need to find the courage to begin rehab. Being able to heal the body and soul requires a conscious decision to want something better out of life and to find true purpose.
With you by their side – supporting their decision to address their addiction and begin recovery – your loved one can find that purpose and finally begin the healing process that has eluded them for so long.
Heroin Detox and Rehab at Ranch Creek Recovery
If your loved one is in the grips of addiction, Ranch Creek Recovery can help. Learn more about
our heroin addiction treatment program, or contact us today to learn about our facility and holistic
approach to addiction treatment.
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