Emotional Effects Of Heroin Use

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on July 13, 2021

Heroin is a highly addictive opioid that relieves pain and creates a sense of euphoria for the person using it. When used over a period of time, heroin can negatively affect emotional parts of the brain and lead to or worsen depression and anxiety disorders.

Emotional Effects Of Heroin Abuse

Heroin is an extremely potent semi-synthetic opioid that can cause significant changes in a person’s emotional state both during and following use.

Therefore, heroin use and the mental health of the person using it are quite closely entwined.

Further, heroin abuse is rarely found alone as a single disorder and often co-occurs with other mental health disorders.

Disorders commonly found co-occurring with heroin use include:

  • anxiety disorders
  • depressive disorders
  • bipolar disorder
  • schizophrenia
  • alcoholism
  • other substance use disorders

Heroin use can cause one or more of these disorders just as any of these disorders also has the potential to lead to heroin use and abuse.

Unfortunately, they only worsen the symptoms of each other and can lead to very serious complications over time.

Learn more about the emotional effects of heroin on the brain

Short-Term Emotional Effects Of Heroin Use

Although heroin affects the brain and body in the same ways as other opioids, heroin is unique in the sense that it is incredibly fast-acting.

When injected directly into a vein, someone using heroin will feel its effects generally in about 10 seconds or less.

What follows is an intense rush of pleasure and positive emotions — a euphoria so extreme that it has been said someone can become addicted after their first experience with it.

All physical and emotional pain present beforehand is forgotten and erased. The person enters a trance-like state of good feelings that lasts for about four to six hours.

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Long-Term Emotional Effects Of Heroin Use

Because the effects of using heroin are so intense, it is possible to build an addiction to it in a matter of a few weeks.

This addiction occurs quickly because tolerance and physical dependence to heroin also develop very fast.

Over time with heroin use, the body will stop producing its natural pain relievers and pleasure inducers (endorphins and dopamine) and the periods in between highs will feel worse and worse.

Studies have also shown that heroin use causes a deterioration of white matter in the brain. This will negatively affect a person’s ability to make decisions, regulate their own behavior, and cope with stressful situations.

Long-term emotional effects of heroin use include:

  • a constant negative mood
  • lethargy
  • loss of interest
  • anxiety
  • paranoia
  • social isolation
  • suicidal thoughts

External Effects Of Heroin Use Can Cause Emotional Side Effects

An addiction to heroin tends to consume a person’s entire life. They may experience issues in both their professional and personal relationships as well as face financial and/or legal hardships.

For someone who is already struggling, things can start to appear quite hopeless and bleak.

Someone who then tries to quit may find themselves in a cycle of withdrawal and relapse, leading to sadness, guilt, and shame if their attempts are unsuccessful.

Finding Treatment For Heroin Addiction

An addiction to heroin can be one of the most difficult substance use disorders to heal from, but there is hope and recovery is possible.

The first step is always to acknowledge that there is a problem and go to the right place for help. By calling our helpline today, we can get you or your loved one started on the road to recovery.

The call is 100% free and confidential and our representatives are always caring and understanding. Find a heroin addiction treatment program today.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on July 13, 2021

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Plymouth, Massachusetts

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