Does Heroin Cause Constipation?
Heroin is a serious and all-too-often deadly drug that unfortunately impacts many individuals, families, and communities around the U.S. and the world.
Heroin itself is an illegal drug that’s purchased on the black market, although it’s readily available throughout most of the country. It’s highly addictive and potent, and it can be snorted, smoked or injected.
Heroin isn’t a new drug, but in past decades its use was somewhat more limited than it is now, and this was for a couple of reasons. First, it’s become more available and less expensive, but also people do snort it and smoke it more often, which has taken the fear and stigma away from using it intravenously. Some people also start out using prescription painkillers and then move to heroin since both act on the brain in a similar way, by binding to opioid receptors in the central nervous system.
Along with making people feel high, the effects of heroin can be far-reaching. Following the euphoric high of the drug, people will often feel very drowsy and may nod off. Other symptoms of heroin use include nausea, vomiting, itching, and one of the most prevalent side effects which is constipation. Why does heroin constipation occur, and are there options for heroin constipation relief?
Even when people are taking prescription opioids for true pain relief, and not using them recreationally, they are warned of the risk of chronic constipation. Chronic constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements a week, and difficulty in passing stools that lasts for several weeks or more. There are two classifications of constipation. The first is called primary constipation which results from natural defects of the colon, and secondary constipation that occurs because of things such as opioids.
Heroin and opioid-induced constipation can be uncomfortable, but it can also be dangerous. Symptoms of heroin-induced constipation include hard, dry stools, the need to force it or exert extreme effort when trying to use the bathroom, the decreased urge to defecate, pain, cramping and a distended stomach.
Since heroin causes constipation sometimes, people will look for relief or remedies for the problem, but ultimately one of the only things you can truly do to relieve heroin constipation is stop doing the drug.
The fact that heroin causes constipation is just one of the many worrying things about this devastating drug.
There are a few reasons heroin causes constipation.
First, opioids like heroin decrease the overall level of activity in the central nervous system as well as the peripheral nervous system, and this can decrease how easily stool moves through the gastric system. The use of heroin and other opioids can also create certain types of contractions in the small intestine while decreasing other intestinal contractions, which alters how food moves through the digestive system.
Heroin can also reduce the functionality of the autonomic nervous system, and that can cause paralysis of certain areas of the stomach. This condition is referred to as gastroparesis. Heroin and opioids suppress the functionality of the sphincter muscles as well, so that stools can’t pass through easily, and the intestines may end up absorbing too much water which can also increase the risk of constipation.
The reason there are few heroin constipation relief options is because the use of opioids changes how the intestines and the gastrointestinal system function. There may be a few prescriptions that can provide heroin constipation relief, but most heroin users aren’t going to visit their doctor in order to obtain prescription constipation medicine.
Unfortunately, over time the effects of heroin-induced constipation can become very serious, and can ultimately be dangerous to the health of the drug user. It should also be noted that the longer you use heroin, the more likely you are to experience constipation and associated complications.
Have more questions about Heroin abuse?Read the most frequently asked questions
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