Hazardous Heroin Effects on the Body

Addictions Content Team Info icon
Calendar icon Last Updated: 10/8/2018

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The “rush” and subsequent calm a heroin high brings can make everything else seem insignificant. It’s these few fleeting moments, though pleasurable they may be, that blind a person to the damage the body undergoes in the process.

Heroin effects on the body start the moment the drug enters the system. With each successive use brain and body processes weaken as the drug’s effects start to replace the body’s natural chemical processes. With each and every use, heroin effects on the body have a cumulative impact that can cause long term damage in many ways.

Immediate Effects

Heroin Effects on the body

Heroin’s effects on your body will start immediately when the drug has been taken.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, heroin can be smoked, snorted or injected in the veins and muscles. Injection routes provide the fastest effects and the intense highs users crave. Heroin effects on the body work to suppress or slow down body functions, such as heart rate, respiration and thought processes. Each of these effects comes with its own risks.

Since there are no standards in place to regulate the strength of any one batch of heroin or the ingredients it contains, a person basically plays Russian roulette with his or her life with each successive use. This is especially true in cases where a dose is much stronger than the one before it. Heroin effects on the body can quickly become fatal when a particular dose shuts down a person’s respiratory system. In effect, the risk of overdose remains constant whether a person is trying heroin for the first or has used for years.

Heroin effects on the body leave users in a foggy mental state that often leads to poor judgment and decision-making. As a result, the likelihood of engaging in casual sexual encounters place a person at risk of contracting chronic diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.


People who use heroin for any length time will no doubt start to need larger doses to experience the same desired effects. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, this process results from the body’s increasing tolerance for the drug. Out of all the heroin effects on the body, the continuous increase in tolerance levels accounts for most, if not all of the dangers associated with heroin use.

An increase in tolerance means brain and body processes are becoming dependent on the drug to function normally. Over time, physical cravings start to influence the mind to the point where a person believes that ingesting more heroin is the only way to feel normal. A person is considered addicted when the mind and body both come to depend on the drug.

Long-Term Effects

As increased tolerance levels drives users to ingest larger amounts of heroin, impurities mixed in with heroin start to accumulate in the body. This process places ongoing strain on the liver as it works to eliminate toxins from the body. With IV drug users, heroin effects on the body also lead to the collapse of overused veins while impurities and potential bacteria move through the bloodstream on a continuous basis.

Once people become addicted to the drug, heroin effects on the body increase exponentially as users ingest larger and larger quantities of the drug over time. After years of use, the body for the most part starts to fall apart as chronic infections, liver problems and a compromised immune system develop.