There may be as many as 1.5 million chronic heroin users in the United States.
Unfortunately, statistics are a bit slim because of the nature of the drug. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), many people do not answer surveys about heroin or other drug use honestly, which makes it difficult to estimate just how many addicts there are.
If someone you love is addicted to heroin, you may wonder, “How does heroin make you feel?”
After all, it’s a valid question, especially after watching your loved one go back to it over and over.
In this article, we’ll go over some things someone addicted to heroin might feel when they ingest the drug, as well as why people continue to take it despite the consequences.
Read on to find out more.
What is Heroin?
Heroin is a common name for the drug diacetylmorphine. It is a derivative of morphine, a strong painkiller. You, or someone you know, may have been given morphine if you’ve had a particularly serious surgery or had a long-term painful recovery from a serious injury.
Morphine and heroin are both derived from the opium poppy plant. This is why some people use the name “Poppy” to describe heroin. In some cases, the name “Poppy” personifies a heroin addict’s addiction. Such language is also popular in the world of eating disorder recovery in which anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are personified as Ana and Mia. Someone addicted to crystal meth may also call their addiction “Crystal.”
Originally, heroin was produced on the mass market by Bayer starting in 1874. It was used as a cough suppressant and as a “safer” alternative to morphine. Although we tend to think of drug addiction as a byproduct of modern society, morphine addiction was a common social issue back then, too. Heroin was supposed to help morphine addicts wean from their addiction. Instead, it created a new addiction altogether.
In 1924, the United States deemed heroin illegal. It was then placed in the category of Schedule I. This means that it holds no medicinal value. It also means that there is a big risk that people will abuse the drug.
As it is one of the most addictive drugs ever made, the Schedule I class for it makes perfect sense.
How Does Someone Take Heroin?
There are many ways to ingest heroin. If you’re an addict or have a friend or family member who is, you’re likely already familiar with some of the ways.
Some people may chop it up and snort it, like cocaine. Others prefer to smoke it or insert it up their anus. Most hardcore addicts inject heroin into their veins intravenously. For some addicts, this is the quickest way to get the most intense high.
It is, however, also the most dangerous. Aside from the risks associated with ingesting the drug itself, there are many issues that arise from using needles in a non-clinical environment.
There is a high risk of AIDS and hepatitis amongst this group of heroin users. This is because they may reuse needles or share needles with friends. They may also not properly clean the area or not dispose of needles correctly, which can lead to accidents and further health complications
How Does Heroin Make You Feel?
This is a question many people who don’t take heroin want to know the answer to. As many see their loved ones return to the drug, again and again, they are curious as to the draw the drug has for that person.
Here are some of the things that heroin addicts feel when they take a hit:
A Dopamine High
Once you take a hit of heroin, dopamine fills your brain, which gives you an intense feeling of pleasure. This “hit” can make you feel confident, happy and produce positive thoughts feelings and sensations.
Many people take heroin in order to achieve that “first hit feeling.” A large chunk of people who take heroin do so in order to self-medicate and mask other issues in his or her life. If you’re constantly depressed, taking heroin will likely make you feel incredibly happy for a least a little while.
There are heroin users who describe this feeling as euphoric. This means they feel happy beyond measure or compare.
For some people, everything else negative about the drug is worth this feeling.
Relief from Pain
While most people who have chronic pain take opioids prescribed by their doctors, some people do get hooked on drugs like heroin. The drug can mask and numb physical pain you might feel from an injury or chronic illness, which makes getting off of it particularly difficult. When dealing with an addict who also has chronic pain, and takes heroin to cope, this can be fairly tricky.
Other people may take heroin as a way to “escape” or “not feel” if they are in situations that aren’t the most pleasant.
For instance, drug use can happen on battlefields where soldiers must risk their lives in the open fire. It can also occur when they have to deal with traumatic events day in and day out while near the battle zone.
Sex workers may also take heroin to help them cope with the reality of their situation. If they shoot up, they are less likely to feel disgusted with themselves or their situation. They’re also less likely to feel pain if a customer gets rough with them or the sex itself becomes painful.
In some cases, individuals who kidnap and traffic sex workers will get the women hooked on heroin purposely. This is to keep them numb and compliant. It also ensures that the woman is hooked on the drug, so she’ll always return to her pimp because he holds the “key” to getting her high.
Homeless individuals may also take heroin to cope with their circumstances. They may be constantly afraid of living on the streets. Ingesting heroin can make them feel as though things aren’t as bad as they seem.
Heroin can also help homeless people, sex workers and people in high anxiety situations feel calmer. This can allow them to sleep, even in places that would normally not be conducive to sleep. It can also allow homeless individuals, or people sleeping on the street, not feel cold and rest despite the harsh outdoor conditions.
As mentioned above, individuals with depression and anxiety may take heroin to mask their pain.
Adverse Effects of Heroin
For some people, the positive effects of heroin are worth any and all negative effects they have from the drug.
Some people, however, will not feel any positive effects and will only feel negative effects. These people may instantly feel nauseous, itch, experience dry mouth, and vomit after ingesting heroin.
Other people may not feel bad until they experience a “come down.” This can include the symptoms listed above as what some people feel instantly when ingesting heroin for the first time.
Before the person experiences a “come down,” some enter a state after the euphoria where they are simply just existing. They may nod off and wake up repeatedly. They may fall asleep entirely in almost any environment. They may also have a lower heart rate and low blood pressure.
After repeated use of heroin, a person may experience withdrawal if they stop taking it. They will often continue to ingest the heroin in order to stop this unpleasant process from occurring.
If not done in a medically supervised environment, withdrawal can lead to death in severe cases.
Otherwise, individuals will experience muscle aches, dilated pupils, anxiety, sweating, diarrhea, insomnia as well as nausea and vomiting. Some people describe it as the worst stomach flu of their life.
This process can last for several days. It can be more comfortable if done in a medical environment, as the effects can be managed through medicinal intervention.
If the person takes heroin during the withdrawal process, it will cease and they will become addicted again.
Long-Term Effects of Heroin
Many people who become addicted to heroin remain so for many months or sometimes even years. They become addicted to that euphoric feeling that they get when they first get high and are always chasing it.
Taking heroin long-term can lead to AIDS or hepatitis, as mentioned above, from using dirty needles.
It can also lead to skin infections, heart problems, collapsed veins and kidney, and liver failure.
Most addicts have trouble sleeping and are at a higher risk of death than those not taking the drug.
Those who abuse heroin for too long without receiving help may ultimately die from their addiction. This can be through overdose or through other issues like their bodies no longer being able to handle the use of the drug.
Overdose is a very scary and very real part of heroin addiction. Many people who overdose die, even those who have used for decades can overdose. Experience does not necessarily protect you from falling prey to an overdose.
Many heroin addicts think that they’ll be fine because they know the dose that works for them. This, however, can be a fatal mistake. Over time, they may develop more and more tolerance, which means they will need more and more heroin to catch that initial euphoric feeling.
Some heroin addicts will lose weight, which will mean their tolerance suddenly decreases when they think it has increased due to their drug activity. This can lead to an overdose.
Those who have been clean for a while and relapse are also susceptible to an overdose. This is because once you’re clean, your body’s tolerance for the drugs reduces dramatically. If you go back to your old dosage, you may accidentally overdose or kill yourself in the process of the relapse.
Additionally, heroin can be cut with a variety of other opioids or drugs. You may not know everything that has been mixed with the drug. The person who sells it to you may not even be aware either.
This is where things get very dangerous. Some heroin is mixed with fentanyl, a powerful opioid. You may take the same amount of heroin you usually take and accidentally overdose on fentanyl because you didn’t realize it was in the drug.
Heroin may be mixed with many other drugs or substances, and you can never be sure if you purchase it “on the street.” If you’re allergic to any of these substances, it can put your life at risk without you even knowing it.
Not knowing what you’ve ingested can make it even more difficult for the doctors to help revive you. If you were with friends who can tell the doctor you took heroin, but can’t tell them what it was cut with, this could turn out to be a fatal mistake for you.
Now that you’ve read this article and answered the question of, “How does heroin make you feel?”; you might understand your relative or loved one’s dependence on the drug a little bit better
While there’s no doubt that heroin has a certain allure to many individuals, and that withdrawal isn’t pretty, there is help. There is hope.
We can help you save your loved one’s life.