The long-term effects of heroin use can vary from user to user. Much of this has to do with the physical condition of the user, the length of that person’s addiction, and the potency of the heroin they’ve been using.

The long-term effects also have to be considered when a heroin addict’s lifespan is taken into account.

For the simple fact is, not very many heroin addicts live for an extended period of time. We must consider that, as well as the potency of the heroin, and its ability to be a fatal, when raising the discussion of long-term heroin effects.


As cited on our other heroin pages, long-term heroin effects entail the following:

  • Weight loss
  • A disheveled appearance
  • Trouble focusing, especially during periods of no use
  • Needle marks and bruising at the points of injection for intravenous users
  • Skin deformation such as abscesses and infections
  • Collapsed veins from repeated injections
  • Heart problems
  • Kidney and liver disorders

Heroin abuse often leads toward poor social practices such as troubled relationships, being fired from work, financial worries and legal issues.

But there’s more to it than that. Here is a detailed breakdown of what long-term heroin use can do to a person.

Repeated heroin use not only creates a dependency in the user, it also changes the physical and physiology structure of the brain.

As this change in structure creates long-term imbalances in neuronal and hormonal systems, healthcare and addiction care providers have found these imbalances that are not easily reversed.

Additional effects include the brain’s white matter, and deteriorates from heroin use. This deterioration can affect decision making, a person’s ability to regulate behavior, and responses to stressful situations.

Long-term effects can also create increasingly high tolerances for heroin. This tolerance occurs when more of the drug is required to achieve the same effects. Physical dependence occurs once the body adapts to heroin’s presence. Physical dependence is realized once withdrawal symptoms occur as the heroin use is abruptly reduced.

Withdrawal symptoms can occur in as little as an hour after one’s last fix. Symptoms of withdrawal can include:

  • Restlessness
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Cold flashes with goose bumps
  • Nervous leg movements

These long-term effects of heroin peak between 24–48 hours after the last dose of heroin and subside after about a week, although some people suffer through persistent heroin withdrawal signs for many months.

The ultimate low point is when a user becomes addicted in which a chronic relapsing disease that goes beyond physical dependence and leads the user into a desperate search for the drug, consequences notwithstanding.

These facts about heroin need to be weighed with continued use. If addicted, the earlier a user can seek help, the better.

If you feel you or a loved one has an issue with heroin, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. Located throughout California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery within 30 days. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.