Heroin acts on the central nervous system much like prescription opioids. These substances bind to opioid receptors in the CNS. When this happens, the person’s brain is flooded with feel-good brain chemicals at unnaturally high levels. This is why they feel a euphoric rush and a sense of pleasure, warmth, and comfort.
Heroin and opioid prescription drugs also provide pain relief. When a response like this is triggered in the brain, it activates reward pathways so ultimately what happens is that the user’s brain compels them to keep seeking out whatever it was that made that pleasurable response, which in this case is drugs.
This is how addiction is born, and with heroin, it can happen very quickly. For some people, they may become addicted the first time they use this powerful drug.
There are a few ways to abuse heroin. Some people snort it, or they might smoke it, but heroin is most commonly associated with injection. Intravenous drug use means that people make heroin into a liquid that can be injected directly into a vein or muscle using a needle.
The result of intravenous administration of heroin is a high that occurs more quickly, often within just a few seconds, and also a more powerful high. Even when people start out smoking or snorting heroin, they often move to injecting it, because they’re chasing the higher level effects of this method of abuse.
No matter how you use, it heroin is dangerous. Not only are addiction and physical dependence tremendous risks, but so are things like overdoses. With a heroin overdose, a person’s respiration is slowed to the point that they go into a coma or die. Along with these risks which can easily turn deadly, when heroin is injected there are even more possible risks.
Injecting heroin and other drugs raises your risk of contracting diseases like HIV and hepatitis C. It also leads to the risk of various infections which can ultimately affect other parts of your body, such as your heart.
One type of infection that’s common with intravenous use is a heroin abscess. A heroin abscess can be painful and dangerous, and they require medical treatment, but too often people who are abusing heroin don’t want to seek treatment for this, so it becomes worse.
As well as risks of diseases and infections, when drugs are injected it increases the risk of overdose because the heroin is going straight to the bloodstream, and onset is rapid. There is a risk of arterial damage that can form at injection sites, and administering drugs via a needle makes the likelihood of addiction even higher.