Heroin’s Effects on the Body

Heroin’s Effects on the Body


Heroin has a detrimental impact on the brain, central nervous system and the entire body. Each individual is impacted differently by heroin. Learn more about how it impacts the entire body and how to seek help if a loved one is affected by addiction to heroin.


Brain and Nervous System

Opioid receptors in the brain which disrupt endorphin production throughout the body are impacted by heroin use. Feelings of intense euphoria are created while suppressing great physical pain. Heroin also slows motor function which is why people feel relaxed when taking heroin. Effects on the brain can lead to physical and psychological dependence on the drug which, over time, builds in the body towards addiction.


The Body

Once heroin enters the system through smoking, snorting or injection, the dopamine sensory pathways in the brain are depressed. As heroin rushes through the bloodstream, the body warms and extremities will feel heavy and relaxed. Heroin may also produce dry mouth, nausea and vomiting. All other functions (physical and mental) will slow. The use of heroin affects every person differently so no two experiences will be alike as to how the body reacts once heroin enters the system.


Effects of Heroin

Injection of heroin into the bloodstream creates a quick high immediately following where a person feels a rush and flush of the skin. The rush takes 6-8 seconds to occur with peak effects being felt approximately 10 minutes after injection. An intense euphoria will last from 45 seconds to several minutes, peak effects will last 1-2 hours and overall effects wear off in 3-5 hours. Peak symptoms happen about 10 minutes after injection effects such as drowsiness, relaxation, somnolence and disconnection from the world which can last several hours.



After continued use for some time (weeks or months), tolerance begins to build in the system. When tolerance develops, it will take more heroin to produce the same effects. Some people will use substances to intensify the high of heroin. Alcohol is sometimes used alongside heroin. Mixing heroin and alcohol can be a lethal cocktail.


Long Term Effects

In the long haul, heroin has devastating effects on an individual’s life, social ability, work, finances, relationships and more. The momentary euphoria followed by pain relief can result in consequences for people who become addicted. Each person who uses heroin has potential for dependency and addiction, resulting in heroin withdrawal syndrome if a person tries to stop. Some people become dependent on heroin and addicted much more quickly than another person who takes it for longer. Overall, the detrimental impact of using heroin outweighs the positive, empowering experience of seeking support and help for kicking the addiction for good and living a clean life, free from the ravages of drug or alcohol addiction.


Heroin can have deadly consequences for people who struggle with dependence or addiction. The Villa provides information and resources to support recovery from addiction, including heroin. If you or a loved one need help, call us today to find out how we can help you.