How Does Heroin Affect the Brain and Body

By Last Updated: September 22nd, 2022Categories: Drug

Heroin, one of the world’s most infamous drugs, kills thousands of people every year. Though it’s no longer the most “popular” drug, it causes more deaths as time passes because of the relaxation of laws and regulations.

Indeed, starting from 2021, Ballot Measure 110, a measure that decriminalizes the use of small amounts of heroin for individuals, has been implemented in Oregon, US, the first state that officially legalizes the carry and use of heroin.

Similar acts are being discussed in more states now.

Despite that, we should never underestimate the impacts that heroin does on our bodies and brain. Even if the government claims it is legal, we shouldn’t try it. If you have friends using heroin, or it’s you, please read this article and understand what will happen to the brain and body. Then, please kindly considering quit taking any drugs.

Part 1: What Is Heroin and How It Goes Viral

To win a battle, you need to know your enemy well enough.

Similar to morphine, heroin is an opioid made from opium poppies but much more addictive. It’s so far the world’s most addictive drug.

  • Centuries ago, when people developed morphine from this devil’s plant for medical purposes, they didn’t realize that morphine is addictive.
  • Victims were cured but in the meantime, had an addiction to morphine.
  • To cure the addiction, people further extracted diamorphine (or diacetylmorphine) from the opium poppy and used Heroin as the product name.
  • But it’s even more powerful than morphine. More people suffered from heroin and laws banning it has been conducted.

But that doesn’t mean it’s completely banned. In certain states and other countries, heroin or diamorphine will be used as a strong pain medication, especially for ladies who’ve been through a cesarean section.

How Does Heroin Affect the Brain and Body

How Heroin Becomes “Popular” In the US

Depressingly, addictive opioids are accessible. The most well-known case is Oxycontin released in 1995.

According its producer, Purdue Pharma, falsely claimed that it was a non-addictive powerful painkiller that fitted even under-18s.

For two decades, countless pills were sold to millions of teenagers and adults who later became addicted to opioids. Quite a few of them had later developed stronger additions and turned to heroin.

Purdue Pharma was busted after its lies were exposed. But the opioid abuse is not over. Not even close. Drug companies are still releasing legal opioids, pharmacies are selling them easily, and more people are addicted to the drugs and turn to heroin.

How Does Heroin Affect the Brain and Body

So, for anyone who hasn’t started to take heroin, your eyes should be on the pills that you get from pharmacies and hospitals. And if you’ve friends or family members who take heroin, don’t blame them first. Ask them how they start. They may not get addicted intentionally.

Part 2: How Does It Affect The Brain

Heroin is infamous for its damage to the brain.

Once addicted, it will cause long-term and unrecoverable effects. If overdoses, the chance of brain death is high. From the slightest to the most serious damage, I will introduce each one of them to you here.

Effects on Brian from Heroin: Tiredness/Sleepiness

People take heroin to experience the unnatural and intense “rush of euphoria” that can last several hours. During this process, your brain will produce dopamine (the type of hormone that makes feel happy ) up to 10 times than normal level.

With such an over-level production, your brain has no more energy to take care of any other business. Also, that huge impact of euphoria really requires your brain to take a rest.

Your brain gets tired, you will feel drowsy, start dozing off and you absolutely cannot control it. So, one of the most common symbols of people taking heroin is the “on the nod”.

If you stop at the first several injections, you can easily recover by having good rest for a few days and weeks.

How Does Heroin Affect the Brain and Body

Effects on Brian from Heroin: Addition

The more heroin you take, the “happier” you feel, and the more dopamine is produced.

As a result, once you stop taking heroin, the system that produces dopamine will send strong signals to your brain craving for the drug.

If you can control it and force yourself to stop, you will overcome it eventually. But if you let your desire control your action, you will be more addicted to it.

Effects on Brain from Heroin: More Afraid of Pain

In our brain, there’re opioid receptors that affect how we react to pain, feelings, and hormones. When receptors take in heroin – a strong pain killer, their ability to process pain will be weakened and start to rely on the pain-killing of the heroin.

As a result, even a tiny injury to your body will be unbearable because the nerves that react to pain will degenerate. Your brain is asking you to take in heroin to kill the pain.

How Does Heroin Affect the Brain and Body

Effects on Brain from Heroin: Insensitivity to Things

There’s this reward or happiness system in our brains.

  • If we do something that makes us happy, dopamine will be produced. Our bodies will remember this feeling and encourage us to do this a lot. That’s why we eat, sleep, and have sex.

But heroin will disrupt that system. While other activities are less exciting than taking heroin – it produces more dopamine, your brain will gradually weaken your reaction to them. You will feel less happy or even dull to everything you once love. You don’t like to eat, sleep, have sex, or carry out hobbies anymore.

As a result, to get more “reward”, your brain will constantly force you to use heroin. If you can’t get what it wants, withdrawal comes with restlessness, vomiting, goose bumps, diarrhea, muscle pain, and insomnia. All will be gone when you take in a dose.

How Does Heroin Affect the Brain and Body

Effects on Brian from Heroin: Cerebral Hypoxia

Apart from affecting your reaction to pain, opioid receptors also control your breathing.

When opioid receptors work normally, you take in enough oxygen, and part of them goes to your brain to keep it functioning. However, once they are hijacked by heroin because:

  • The receptors need to work with all strength to process the does of heroin;
  • As a central nervous system depressant, Heroin will cause the inhibition of your brain activities.

Therefore, you become unconscious. You will lose the ability to breathe gradually. As a result, one will suffer from cerebral hypoxia which will cause irreparable damage to the brain and other parts if it lasts for 4 – 6 minutes, including

  • Cognitive disorder/impairment (you don’t recognize things and people)
  • Memory loss ( you will lose some or even all memory)
  • Inability to speak, move, see, touch, or focus
  • Loss of balance and coordination ability (you can’t walk normally)
  • And other activities that need your brain to support

Once the brain lacks oxygen for over 10 minutes, it dies and the victim gets a brain death. You may google what is brain death.

How Does Heroin Affect the Brain and Body

Effects on Brian from Heroin: Brian Disorder

If one takes in heroin for a long term and lets it ruin the brain, the result is overwhelming.

  1. The normal function of your brain is disordered. You can’t focus on things as your attention will be drawn to heroin by your distorted reward system.
  2. Worse still, the interwoven insomnia and dozing confuse your perception. You start to lose the concept of time and feel unfamiliar with the person and things that you once know, and react to anything slowly except heroin.
  3. The long-term usage of heroin is going to shut down neurotransmitters, the messengers that transfer signals among cells, nerves, and muscles. You will suffer a lot, like sexual apathy & dysfunction, Immune system disorder, cognitive impairment, and mental illness.

Part 3: How Does It Affect the Body

Compared to the brain effects, how heroin affects the body is more obvious. It slowly poisons your body, making you sick and lifeless. There’s a right word for this: walking dead.

Effects on Body from Heroin: Abnormal behaviors

Addicts will become complete weirdos to others and can’t control themselves at all to have these behaviors like nodding, shivering, twitching, having goose bumps, dazing, etc.

Effects on Body from Heroin: Getting Bony

It takes me quite a while to think about this word, bony. If you search online for images of heroin addicts. You will see living skeletons only. “Is there any flesh in that husk?”, this may puzzle you.

Heroin slowly kills sleep and appetite. Cells and muscles get no nutrition and time to keep the body strong and healthy. Diarrhea, vomiting, convulsions, and coma will pay a visit every day. Fat and muscle dry up, bones stuck out, and health slips.

How Does Heroin Affect the Brain and Body

Effects on Body from Heroin: Serious and Complex Complications

How many diseases will you develop when you use heroin for a long time? A lot.

  • Fever, flu, and diarrhea due to low immunity are the least cases.
  • Then, your veins will collapse because of daily injections. And blood clots that will cause heart diseases to occur form.
  • Also, sharing needles will make your body accessible to HIV. It’s transmitted through blood and some other bodily fluids.
  • If insufflation (snorting) or smoking is the major way to take in heroin, lung infections like pneumonia and tuberculosis will knock at your door.
  • For females, menses will delay or even stop. For pregnant females, heroin will get the baby killed.
  • The liver and kidneys start to collapse after filtering too much heroin.
How Does Heroin Affect the Brain and Body

Part 4: How to Give Up Heroin-taking

It’s very hard to give up using drugs, especially heroin. It manipulates your brain, your dopamine, and nerves. But nothing is impossible! Stop searching for so-called methods online. Go to the nearby help center and seek help from professionals. They’re kind, warm-hearted, and skillful. They know exactly how to ease your pain and anxiety.

For the sake of body, family, and friends, please, say no to heroin.

How Does Heroin Affect the Brain and Body

Sincere Advice

Whoever it is, you or anyone you know, please quit taking heroin before it’s too late. Otherwise, everything that you once have will leave you. Your health, friends, family, and your life will all be far away and never come back.


Yes, quite a lot of illegal drugs will lead to memory loss, especially cocaine and heroin. Both of them will slow down the breath, causing cerebral hypoxia. If the situation lasts for 5 minutes, the victim will suffer from recoverable brain damage including memory loss.


First of all, drug users will lose their health, both mentally and physically.

For long-term overdose,  there’s a very high risk of brain death and death.

Also, family and friends will leave them away. And while walking on the street, people will try to avoid junkies.

Most junkies have no jobs as employers wouldn’t trust on these potential criminals,

Some people, especially teenagers, don’t want to be separated from their friends when hanging out. If someone in the team is using drugs, they will provoke you and say dirty words to you. They will make a bet on you and encourage or seduce you to take drugs, saying that you can take all the money if you use it.

Also, if you go to clubs and pubs or attend raves and parties too often, there’s a higher chance that you will be targeted by drug dealers. They will put that “magic power or pills” to your beer or coke when you’re not looking. If you drink it, you’re trapped.

Once you take the first stop of drug usage, you can hardly get out of it. Most drugs are designed to be extremely addictive. An individual cannot give up taking drugs by him/herself. External and professional help is necessary.

At parties, when someone offers or sells drugs to you, to avoid conflicts, you can say something soft like:

  • “I’m sorry. I have a sickness of xxx, using it can’t get me high but will kill me”. Trust me, drug dealers don’t know the name of the disease you make up just now.
  • “I’m sorry, I think I’m not ready for this yet. I’m using something else now. If I’m ready, I will let you know, okay?” You will not see the guy anymore.

You can refuse that in a direct way by saying no or ignoring the person.

Can you call the police and report this dealer? Yes, you can do it. But make sure the guy brings drugs with him/her.