Heroin is a highly addictive opioid drug that’s usually sold in a white or brown powder. It is created from the opioid morphine and is known for producing feelings of euphoria and well-being, otherwise referred to as a heroin high. Most often, the drug is known to be administered intravenously or injected into a vein. When it is used this way, the drug passes along the bloodstream, instantly producing a high. However, many people have also wondered if you can smoke heroin and how this may change the side effects of the drug. To spread awareness of its dangers, our Delaware drug rehab shares more about the risks of smoking heroin.
How Heroin Works
Heroin is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, meaning it slows down a person’s brain functions and can even affect their breathing. When someone uses heroin, their body temperature and blood pressure also drop, and their heartbeat becomes irregular. Users may also lose consciousness or lapse into a coma because of these other side effects, increasing their risk of permanent brain damage or death.
Specifically, heroin works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and throughout the body. These receptors are associated with pain perception and dopamine activity, among other functions. Therefore, when heroin binds to these receptors, it not only blocks them from reading pain signals but also activates the brain’s reward system and the release of dopamine.
Dopamine and drug abuse go hand in hand, as this chemical is highly associated with the development of addiction. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter known to produce sensations of euphoria, pleasure, and well-being. Whenever we do something enjoyable or that the body likes, dopamine is released, reinforcing the behavior and encouraging the mind and body to do it again.
The same logic applies to using drugs like heroin. A heroin high is marked by a feeling of euphoria, which can be enough to encourage the individual to keep using it. In the long run, continuous use of opioids like heroin can lead to the development of physical dependence and addiction.
Can Heroin Be Smoked?
Yes, heroin can be smoked, although this form of administration is less common than others, such as injection or snorting. But if it’s a powder (or even a tar-like substance known as black tar heroin), how is heroin smoked?
Smoking heroin involves diluting the drug in liquid and heating it up on a piece of tin foil or another heat-conductive surface. The smoke is then inhaled through a tube, such as a straw or rolled-up piece of paper. Smoking heroin is often referred to as “chasing the dragon.”
Many don’t realize that smoking heroin can be just as dangerous as other forms of administration, though it does not come with the increased risk of IV-related drug problems. However, even when smoked, heroin can lead to respiratory problems as well as a risk of dependence and addiction.
Second-Hand Heroin Smoke
Second-hand heroin smoke refers to the passive inhalation of smoke produced by a heroin user. When someone smokes heroin, the smoke produced contains various chemicals and contaminants like tar, carbon monoxide, and other toxins.
Not only does second-hand heroin smoke expose people to these toxins, but it can also produce some of the same side effects as smoking the drug directly. These may include drowsiness, relaxation, euphoria, and problems breathing. However, the effects are likely to be much milder than if you had smoked heroin directly.
It’s important to note that exposure to second-hand heroin smoke is pretty rare. However, if you’re concerned about exposure to second-hand smoke from any substance, it’s always a good idea to speak with healthcare professionals about the risks involved and how to minimize exposure.
Side Effects of Smoking Heroin
Smoking drugs can come with some additional side effects that may or may not be seen if they’re used intravenously or orally. Some short-term side effects of smoking heroin include:
- Confusion and disorientation
- Constricted pupils
- Drowsiness and sedation
- Dry mouth
- Itching and skin rash
- Low blood pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
- Poor coordination
- Reduced cognitive function
- Reduced heart rate
- Slowed breathing
Smoking heroin can also have some longer-lasting side effects, including:
- Addiction and dependence
- Cognitive impairment, including memory loss and difficulty with decision-making
- Damage to blood vessels and heart
- Damage to the lungs, including bronchitis and pneumonia
- Increased risk of heart attack and stroke
- Increased risk of respiratory infections
- Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia
- Reduced libido and sexual function
- Weakened immune system
- Withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug
The effects of smoking heroin can be unpredictable, especially if the batch the user has obtained is laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl-laced heroin has become more common in the drug market and has affected more and more drug users as of late. Our professional heroin detox in Delaware can help individuals who have developed a dependence and/or addiction to heroin safely recover from their withdrawals and begin their recovery.
Our Heroin Rehab in Milford
If you or someone you care about is struggling with heroin abuse, it’s important to seek professional care. Fortunately, our Delaware rehab offers heroin addiction treatment, among a variety of other services designed to support long-term sobriety.
Remember that seeking help is the first step towards a healthier and happier life. For more information about our Milford rehab programs, call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763 or send us your contact information to be connected with an admission specialist.