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3 Lesser Known Side Effects of Heroin



Heroin. Produced from the seed of the poppy plant, this illegal narcotic is unbelievably addictive and highly dangerous. Seriously. Heroin is like marijuana, in that it’s a gateway drug, but only if you’re talking about the Pearly Gates. In case that reference didn’t hit home with you, allow us to be more direct: heroin will kill you. Heroin overdose has caused more deaths than traffic accidents.

Heroin can be injected, smoked, snorted, or even ingested, and some of the better-known side effects include dry mouth, constipation, shortness of breath, and unexpected behavioral changes. And, while any of these symptoms could be annoying on their own, heroin users get to experience all of them, along with a side of bigger problems that you might not be aware of. Just for kicks, let’s look at a few of the lesser-known, long-term effects of heroin use.

1. Shake Shake Shake!

If you’ve ever seen anyone have a seizure, then you probably have some idea just how dangerous they can be. Hey, even at the best of times a seizure is awkward and disconcerting. Well, the heroin user needs to get comfortable with the idea of shaking and foaming, because there’s a decent chance that they’ll be doing it themselves at some point.

You see, heroin acts as an antagonist to the GABA receptors located in your brain and spinal column. This can be problematic because the GABA receptors help prevent the neurons in your brain from firing too rapidly. And when neurons begin to overdo it, that’s when the convulsions start. Suffice it to say that heroin stops the things in your brain that stop the things in your brain that cause seizures. Yeah, heroin’s kind of a jerk.

2. Give Me Some Skin

Regrettably, all that convulsing is only going to make your dandruff more noticeable. Heroin makes your skin lose its moisture, resulting in dryness and itchiness. It doesn’t help that heroin also kills your appetite, which means that you won’t be hydrating often enough to do any good.

Not eating much also means that you miss out on the vitamins that are necessary to retain your skin’s elasticity. At the same time, increased bruising and scarring (from continued intravenous use) will make your dry, rashy, saggy hide even less pleasant to look at. But don’t worry about that; many users have found that eventually their skin literally starts to rot off from infection. You see, heavily damaged skin can develop abscesses and boils. So if you make it far enough, your skin will just sort of die, and then it won’t trouble you any farther.

3. ‘Rhoid Rage

At least you won’t have to worry about spoiling yourself while you’re shaking your skin loose. Remember how we mentioned earlier that heroin causes constipation? Well when you combine that with an inadequate diet and overall poor health (again, thanks to the heroin), it results in hemorrhoids, and lots of them. That means that the prolonged straining from not being able to, um, well, poop, has caused vascular structures in your anal canal to become swollen and inflamed. External hemorrhoids actually cause the anal wall to push itself out of the anus. Go ahead and think about that for a while. So while you’re flopping around like a droopy, puss covered fish, try to keep from rolling over onto your backside, because that thing’s going to be sore.

But then, heroin has also been suspected of causing leukoencephalopathy, which is a disease that attacks the white matter of your brain. That is to say, it destroys the areas associated with consciousness. So I guess, in the long run, you’re not going to really notice a sore butt.