What does heroin feel like? What is it about this drug that has gripped so many people in the United States and around the world? Why do people continue to use heroin despite the incredibly dangerous nature of the drug and its adverse effects?

It’s difficult to understand why people use heroin if you don’t know what heroin feels like or have never done it. There have been descriptions and essays written by people who try to convey the answer to “what does heroin feel like.” They describe using heroin as an experience that makes their life worth living.

Unfortunately, the good feelings quickly turn to a sense of desperation and a sickness.

What Does Heroin Feel Like?
Many understand that heroin addiction is a problem in the U.S., but they might not know a lot about the drug. Heroin is a highly addictive drug and is sold as powders or a tar-like substance that can range in color including white, brown and black.

Heroin is an opioid and similar to prescription opioid medication. Heroin binds to a person’s opioid receptors and releases the feel-good chemical dopamine, which increases pleasurable feelings and ignites a reward response in the brain.

When someone uses heroin, the drug floods their central nervous system with dopamine, creating intense feelings of pleasure and well-being. Other effects include flushed skin, a feeling of heaviness and dry mouth. Less pleasurable feelings associated with heroin include extreme itching, nausea, and vomiting. After the initial pleasure, people who use heroin will typically enter a period of drowsiness, which includes slowed breathing and impaired motor functioning.

Effects of heroin vary based on how someone takes the drug. It can be smoked, injected or snorted. When someone injects heroin into a vein, it creates an immediate high. When it’s injected into a muscle, effects may not be as intense or manifest as fast. When someone snorts it or smokes heroin, effects can be less intense than injection and take 10 minutes to develop.

Along with understanding heroin’s effects, people should be able to identify when a heroin withdrawal occurs. As someone develops a tolerance for the substance, their body becomes accustomed to its presence. If the person stops using heroin or reduces their dosage, their body becomes ill as it adjusts to no longer having the drug for increased dopamine production.

When someone stops using the drug suddenly, also called “cold turkey,” they’ll likely experience severe and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms lasting around one week. The withdrawal symptoms also depend on how long and at what dosage someone used heroin.

Mild heroin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Tearing
  • Runny nose
  • Sweats
  • Yawning
  • Chills
  • Achiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Agitation
  • Tremors
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue

Severe heroin withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, depression, insomnia, hypertension, muscle spasms, respiration problems, cravings and difficulty experiencing pleasure.

Heroin use can be dangerous and continued abuse of the drug can lead to a severe addiction. The opioid’s effects wear off quickly and leaves a persistent desire to use the drug again in order to achieve the same pleasurable feeling.

If you or a loved one live with addiction or are using drugs recreationally and want to stop, The Recovery Village® can help. Reach out to one of our representatives today to learn how you can start on your path to recovery.