What does heroin do to your body?

If you find yourself at a stage in your life where your relationship with heroin has taken a dark turn and you want to take action, we understand how difficult it can be to relate to a list of generic, bullet-pointed symptoms of heroin addiction. That’s why, in this blog, we’ve chosen to integrate a narrative that illustrates how heroin affects your body, mind and entire life. Let’s meet Liam.

Introducing Liam

Note: The short-term, long-term and overdose symptoms of heroin use are bolded throughout this story. This includes signs of heroin addiction, both physical and mental.

Liam, a young man in his early twenties, was trapped in the suffocating grip of depression. An invisible weight gradually took control of his life, eroding his sense of joy, purpose and well-being. An overwhelming sense of hopelessness marked his days, a constant companion that made even the simplest tasks insurmountable.

Liam was at the end of his tether. He decided to try heroin as a means of coping with his depression stemming from a profound sense of desperation. In his clouded state of mind, he saw it as a quick escape from his pain, hoping for immediate relief, while the prospect of seeking professional help felt daunting and distant.

What were the initial feelings Liam felt from heroin?

After only a few minutes of injecting heroin, the drug rapidly binds to opioid receptors in Liam’s brain, flooding it with dopamine and producing an intense sense of euphoria. This flood of pleasure-inducing neurotransmitters created a profound feeling of warmth and relaxation throughout his body, temporarily relieving him of the emotional pain and troubles that had been tormenting him.

However, these fleeting moments of bliss exacted a toll on Liam’s body. Heroin use triggered nausea and vomiting as the drug disrupted his digestive system. Additionally, he suffered from persistent dry mouth and pervasive itching sensations that covered his body, a discomfort that accompanied the temporary relief heroin provided.

An hour into Liam’s heroin experience

Around an hour into Liam’s heroin experience, his body’s responses took a dangerous turn. Heroin acts as a powerful depressant on the central nervous system, binding to opioid receptors in the brain. This binding suppressed vital functions, causing his respiratory rate to slow dangerously and his heart rate to decrease.

His speech became increasingly slurred, making it difficult for him to communicate coherently. Mental confusion set in, clouding his ability to understand and interact with the world around him. The drug’s grip on his mind and body grew stronger, further diminishing his connection to reality.

The days after Liam’s heroin experience

Liam’s journey with heroin took a dark turn during the “come-down” phase, which is the period following drug use when the euphoria and immediate effects of heroin dissipate. During this time, he experienced several unsettling sensations as his body attempted to recover from the aftermath of heroin use.

Firstly, the euphoria and relaxation that had initially drawn him to the drug had vanished entirely. This abrupt shift left Liam feeling emotionally drained and physically exhausted, creating a stark contrast to the temporary relief he had initially sought. The depression he had hoped to escape now seemed even more pronounced.

Heroin use led to changes in his brain chemistry, causing a drop in dopamine levels, which contributed to his heightened anxiety and restlessness. The drug’s impact on opioid receptors resulted in his body’s intense cravings for more heroin. Also, the central nervous system, which had been suppressed by heroin, rebounded into a state of hyperactivity during withdrawal, leading to muscle aches and difficulty sleeping.

Now, Liam was left dealing with the initial depression, along with a whole range of new mental and physical health issues. Despite experiencing the dark side of heroin use, Liam continued to use heroin.

The weeks and months after Liam’s first heroin experience

In the weeks following his initial heroin injection, Liam’s life spiralled deeper into the abyss of addiction. His dependency on the drug had intensified, and he was ensnared in a nightmarish cycle.

The withdrawal symptoms that Liam had first experienced were becoming even worse, and it was proving to be an excruciating ordeal. Anxiety gnawed at him relentlessly, restlessness left him unable to find solace, muscle aches wracked his body, and insomnia tormented his already fragile psyche. These agonies pushed him to seek another hit, as heroin was the only respite he knew from this torment.

His physical health was deteriorating rapidly. Repeated injections had damaged his veins, leaving them scarred and unreliable. Infections had taken hold at injection sites, leading to painful abscesses that served as painful reminders of his destructive habit.

Worse still, the constant fear of overdosing loomed over him like a dark cloud. Liam’s relationships with family and friends had frayed beyond recognition as the drug had eclipsed all other priorities. He found himself isolated and estranged, desperately clinging to the very substance that was destroying his life.

Legal troubles had begun to surface, as Liam found himself needing more money to feed his newly formed heroin addiction. He resorted to stealing from shops and even people. Liam was in and out of police custody after being arrested several times.

Liam was showing the classic signs of heroin addiction.

Liam’s heroin overdose

One fateful day, Liam’s descent into the abyss of addiction took a dangerous turn when he experienced a heroin overdose. His body had developed a tolerance to the drug, leading him to seek larger doses to achieve the desired effects. However, on this occasion, the dose he took was too high, overwhelming his system.

During the overdose, his body’s vital functions became severely compromised. Heroin depresses the central nervous system, slowing down breathing and heart rate. In Liam’s case, these functions plummeted dangerously. His skin grew pale and clammy, his lips turned bluish, and his pupils constricted to pinpricks.

Fortunately, someone nearby recognised the signs of overdose and called for help. Quick administration of naloxone, a medication that can reverse the effects of heroin, saved Liam’s life. The experience served as a terrifying wake-up call, a stark reminder of the perilous path he was on and the urgent need for intervention to break free from heroin’s deadly grasp.

Liam’s journey through heroin addiction treatment

Liam’s journey through heroin detox and heroin rehab was a pivotal turning point in his life. He was fortunate to be admitted to a treatment centre that specialised in heroin detoxification, a crucial step towards his recovery.

Heroin detox

During the heroin detox stage, Liam’s body went through a challenging process. The withdrawal symptoms that had reared their head during Liam’s initial attempts to quit heroin on his own had returned.

Liam’s body reacted this way because it was attempting to readjust to the absence of the drug. The withdrawal symptoms were his body’s response to the chemical imbalances caused by an addiction to heroin, signalling the physiological and psychological struggle to regain balance without the drug’s presence.

However, the 24/7 care provided by the doctors and nurses at the treatment centre played a crucial role in ensuring his safety and comfort during this difficult time. They monitored his vital signs, administered medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and offered emotional support. This care and supervision were essential in helping Liam safely detox from heroin.

Heroin rehab

After successfully completing the detox phase, Liam transitioned to heroin rehab. Here, he received comprehensive therapy to address the underlying causes of his addiction to heroin, which, in his case, was primarily related to his depression.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) were integral components of his treatment plan. These evidence-based therapies helped Liam understand and manage the emotional triggers and thought patterns that had contributed to his substance abuse.

In addition to traditional therapies, Liam also had access to holistic approaches such as art therapy and yoga. These holistic therapies played a significant role in helping Liam develop coping strategies for his depression. Art therapy allowed him to express his emotions creatively, while yoga provided him with relaxation techniques and mindfulness practices to manage stress and anxiety better.

After heroin addiction treatment

Through this comprehensive approach to treatment, Liam not only overcame his heroin addiction but also gained valuable tools and strategies to maintain his mental health and stay on the path to recovery. His journey through heroin detox and rehab ultimately led him towards a brighter and more hopeful future.

Have you been affected by Liam’s story?

No matter which point of Liam’s story resonates with you the most, remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you or someone you know is struggling with heroin addiction, depression or any related challenges, it’s crucial to seek help.

Remember that you don’t have to face these battles alone, and by reaching out to a reputable rehab centre, like the one mentioned in Liam’s story, you’re taking the first step towards recovery.

Your journey to a healthier, happier life without heroin begins with seeking support.

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Calls and contact requests are answered by admissions at

UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step.

0203 811 7325