When you use heroin, you’re putting yourself at risk of an overdose. Due to the drug’s lethality, even first-time users can end up overdosing. People who have been taking heroin for years and think that they have a grasp on their tolerance levels can overdose as well.
When you put heroin into your body, it goes through your bloodstream to your brain. The Heroin in your brain then becomes morphine. Too much heroin means too much morphine, and this excess morphine will eventually cause a depression of your respiratory system as it works to stop the mu-opioid receptors in your brain from doing their job. Cardiac arrest can then result.
Overdosing on drugs is an increasingly prevalent problem. Total drug overdose deaths were 38,329 in 2010. That figure jumped to 52,404 in 2015. For just heroin, the death rate from use jumped nearly 21 percent from 2014 to 2015. Heroin overdose deaths increased from just under 2,000 in 1999 to over 15,000 in 2017. As grim as these figures are, they only tell part of the story. Overdosing is just one way that heroin can kill you.
Heroin Raises the Chances of Contracting Infectious Diseases
Heroin use places you in a heightened risk of contracting infectious diseases such as hepatitis B and C as well as AIDS. Hepatitis that remains untreated can cause liver failure or cancer while HIV damages your immune system. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that almost 13,000 people in the U.S. die each year because of AIDS. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that throughout the next 40-50 years, a million people with a chronic hepatitis C infection that’s untreated will most likely die due to complications related to their condition.
Those with one infectious disease are at risk for contracting others. The CDC indicates that of those in the U.S. with HIV, over 20 percent are also infected with chronic hepatitis C. Around 80 percent of those with HIV who also inject heroin also suffer from hepatitis C.
Injecting drugs considerably raises your chances of contracting AIDS, hepatitis and various other contagious diseases. Even when people are not using heroin intravenously, though, the drug influences inhibition and judgment. Individuals under the effects of heroin are more disposed to participate in unsafe sex as well as other types of risky behavior. They’re more apt to experience injuries or accidents where blood-related protection is not on their mind.
Heroin doesn’t necessarily kill you outright, but it can give diseases the opportunity to do this. That’s one reason why addiction treatment often starts with a thorough health evaluation. Treatment also usually includes comprehensive physical aid. Health specialists experienced in dealing with those going through withdrawal and other symptoms of heroin abuse are available at rehab facilities to help you. These professionals support patients in managing any physical health problems happening in accordance with their heroin usage. With the right care, you should leave treatment healthier than when you entered it because you’ll leave better educated about and protected from many infectious disease risks. You also discover how to take charge of your future and your health. You can experience a healthy and long life by finding treatment and quitting heroin.
Heroin Is Generally Used in Combination With Other Drugs
Heroin is dangerous enough by itself, but if it is used in conjunction with other substances, the risks associated with it increase dramatically. The CDC details how heroin can kill you when you frequently use heroin with other drugs or alcohol, raising the chance of overdosing significantly.
The heightened risk of overdosing isn’t uncommon because the majority of drug users take many different ones. Two or more drugs are used at one time, or one drug is taken in an attempt to counter the negatives effects of another. The CDC shares how those at the greatest risk of becoming addicted to heroin are people who are addicted to opioid painkillers, marijuana, cocaine or alcohol. When you have an existing addiction to opioid pain pills, it’s 40 times more likely that you’ll develop a heroin addiction.
Dying From a Heroin Withdrawal
You’re most likely reading this because you’re trying to find out if dying from a heroin withdrawal is a possibility, but there isn’t a single answer to this. The signs that a heroin withdrawal presents usually aren’t deadly in and of themselves, but the unintended consequences may be harmful to your health. The process of detoxing from an opioid should be supervised by medical experts in a qualified detox center. Due to the lengthy process that recovering from a heroin addiction involves, it’s also vital to receive continual attention at a residential treatment facility or sober living home.
Heroin Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms
Heroin has some of the harshest withdrawal effects of any drug, particularly because the majority of heroin users are taking high doses over a period of years. Heroin withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on the person’s specific body chemistry and drug use habits and whether they’ve been taking other drugs. The ordinary signs of withdrawal include but are not limited to:
- Intestinal discomfort and pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fever and sweating
- Nervousness and anxiety
- Agitation and anger
- Muscle tension and spasms
- Depression and sadness
- Intense cravings for opioids
In addition to the increased likelihood of catching communicable illnesses, long-term usage leads to more intense side effects alongside internal injuries. Users of heroin might encounter bacterial diseases around the skin, blood vessels or heart. These infections can travel or be noticed near other crucial organs, which could lead to cell death for these organs.
If you’re dealing with an addiction, you’re probably not going to eat very well or keep your body in shape. You’re most likely not going to engage in self-care like treating your spirit, mind, and body in a responsible way. A good treatment facility includes nutritional counseling as one of the sections in the overall treatment program. A rehab center can assist you in restoring a sense of balance and showing how you eat relates to staying healthy and feeling good.
The best centers will plan out ways for you to stay active such as through traditional exercise or activities like hiking, yoga, dance or something that you find fun and enjoyable. Addiction specialists will be there for you at any time to help optimize your own personal path to well-being. Heroin strips your health away, but it does not need to take your life from you. You can take small steps today to regain control of your life.
Heroin and Its Role in Increasing Suicide
Heroin can kill users through its role in causing suicides. People taking heroin have a 14 times greater chance of dying from suicide than their peers. Those who use heroin are much more likely to try committing suicide than non-heroin users, and they also have a higher chance of succeeding. Addiction explains why heroin users are more at risk for suicide.
Users of drugs encounter the exact same obstacles to good mental health as the population at large, but heroin adds more stress, effects on health and pressures on top of that. Heroin influences happiness, producing lower lows and offering an easily accessible opportunity for self-harm. Heroin can disturb relationships that would have otherwise been compatible. It also affects employment and finances, often leaving people feeling alone and forgotten even though it’s not the reality. Addicted individuals in treatment can restore relationships with their loved ones, and new and healthy friendships are often formed with recovering peers. Reaching out and finding support is possible.
The main population risk factors for suicide, in general, apply to heroin users as well: psychopathology, gender, social isolation, and family dysfunction. Extra risks are associated with heroin and other drug users specifically. Detoxing from opioids can cause symptoms as if it were the flu times 10, just from the pain of it. Many users seek to stop the addiction numerous times before becoming completely sober, and it can often feel like it’s too hard. Some individuals take their life as they’re experiencing withdrawal, either through a heroin overdose or some other method.
If you or anyone you know is contemplating self-harm, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Dangers Involved With Withdrawing
Even though the withdrawal symptoms aren’t lethal in themselves, they could end up killing users in different ways. One way in which detoxing from heroin may kill you is from a seizure. It is extremely rare and typically only occurs in those with severe malnutrition or pre-existing medical ailments. The danger is a lot more pronounced, though, when you try to handle withdrawal all by yourself; staying safe is only one of the many advantages of detoxing. Even if someone does end up enduring a seizure from heroin withdrawal, dying is the exception.
The sad truth is how death from heroin withdrawals are the highest when individuals trying to get clean turn back to heroin and overdose. Due to the way withdrawal symptoms are so uncomfortable, many people end up staying clean for a few hours or days in the process of detoxing before returning once again to the drug. The thoughts in their head tell them that going back to using is the only way they would feel better, ultimately losing sight of the bigger picture of getting clean. Unfortunately, drug users may overestimate their tolerance to the drug or hastily take too large a dose, leading to complications from overdose. It’s at times like these when a supply of naloxone, which works to reverse the effects of an overdose, can come in handy. Providing naloxone to someone going through an overdose is only a temporary solution, however. The long-term solution is to get treated professionally in the right facility.
Heroin Withdrawals That Kill
Withdrawing from substances you take along with heroin may have fatal effects. It is good to understand the way these substances work as many people who misuse opioids like heroin will misuse something like benzodiazepine or alcohol as well. These both influence the brain’s GABA receptors and depress your body’s central nervous system.
If benzodiazepines and alcohol are taken out of the equation, your nervous system reacts in a negative way. GABA is the primary inhibitor for the central nervous system and is in charge of bringing a sense of ease while under the effects of these drugs. If the drugs are taken away, the nervous system is overstimulated, so people can end up experiencing life-threatening convulsions. When you’ve been taking excessive quantities of benzos and alcohol together with heroin, your dangers while withdrawing increase substantially.
Sobriety Is Possible
You know how heroin can kill you, but you do not need to live under the constant fear of overdosing and hoping someone nearby will save you with a supply of naloxone. In a treatment center, you can learn about preventing infectious diseases from spreading and find out better ways to deal with the health complications you already have. You do not have to be depressed or harm your body because of your drug use. Your path to recovery and health is only a phone call away. A treatment facility can tell you more about signing up for a comprehensive plan. The medical professionals of today use the best approaches to physical, mental and addiction health care. They provide a way to rid yourself of heroin. Your life can be saved when you reach out for help.