Heroin High | What Does a Heroin High Feel Like?

Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

on December 8, 2022

A person experiencing a heroin high likely feels a “rush” of euphoria or extreme relaxation. They may look sleepy, vacant, or like they’re “nodding off.”

Heroin is a highly addictive and illicit drug. Heroin use provides pain relief similar to opioid pain medication. According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), heroin is an opiate narcotic drug extracted from opium poppy plants and processed from morphine.

Those who participate in heroin abuse may experience a number of serious side effects. 

A person high on heroin may appear to be extremely relaxed, drowsy, and flushed in the face. The side effects of a heroin high may vary depending on the type of substance use and route of administration.

How A Heroin High Works

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that heroin binds to the opioid receptors in the brain. When activated, these neurotransmitters release dopamine, leading to a “rush” or intense feelings of euphoria. These sensations can lead to drug addiction due to the addictive properties of opioids.

Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, methadone, and buprenorphine can also be abused. Prescription drugs such as oxycodone and morphine can be cut with heroin when crushing the pill, snorting the powder, or combining it with water to inject into a vein.

Opioids affect the central nervous system (CNS) which can cause a number of side effects which range in severity. While some side effects can be mild, others can be life-threatening.

Side Effects Of Heroin Abuse

Heroin substance abuse may cause immediate and common short-term side effects in addition to long-term effects. Depending on the manner in which heroin is abused, effects can drastically change.

Short-Term Side Effects

A person abusing heroin may experience side effects that can sometimes be noticed by outside parties as well.

Some of the short-term side effects of heroin use may include:

  • dry mouth
  • stomach cramping or constipation
  • heavy feelings in extremities
  • nausea
  • severe itching
  • drowsiness

Those snorting or injecting heroin as a form of drug use may experience these effects more quickly as the drug enters your bloodstream at a faster rate.

Health Issues

Those who abuse heroin long-term may experience several health issues, depending on the way the drug is abused.

Those who inject heroin may experience collapsed veins, blood clots, and abscesses on the skin. Injecting heroin using syringes can increase the risk of developing hepatitis or HIV/AIDS if multiple people share needles.

Those who snort the drug can develop a deviated septum, bacterial infections of the nasal passageways, or a chronic runny nose. 

Other long-term effects of abusing heroin consist of kidney disease, liver disease, or cardiovascular issues due to the potential infections your body may experience from this type of long-term drug abuse.

Withdrawal Symptoms

If a person stops taking the drug, they may experience unpleasant heroin withdrawal. Those who have developed a heroin dependence may suffer from severe withdrawal symptoms.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Library of Medicine, some of the symptoms of heroin withdrawal can include:

  • diarrhea
  • muscle or bone pain
  • sleeping problems
  • cold flashes
  • vomiting
  • goosebumps
  • severe cravings for the drug

Heroin Overdose

The United States Department of Health and Human Services states there is an opioid crisis due to the number of deaths caused by a heroin overdose. There are life-threatening side effects one can experience during an overdose.

For instance, some of the side effects of a heroin overdose may include:

  • slowed heart rate
  • shallow breathing or respiratory depression
  • permanent brain damage
  • coma

If you suspect an overdose has occurred, contact 911 immediately.

Heroin Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one are struggling with heroin use, consider finding a heroin addiction treatment program to assist you on your road to recovery. At Ohio Recovery Center, we provide a number of treatment services including:

To speak with one of our healthcare representatives and learn more about our treatment services, please contact us today.

  1. Department of Health and Human Services — What is the U.S. Opioid Epidemic? https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/about-the-epidemic/index.html
  2. Drug Enforcement Administration — Heroin https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Heroin-2020.pdf
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse — Research Report Series: Heroin https://nida.nih.gov/sites/default/files/heroinrrs_11_14.pdf
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse — What is Heroin? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin
  5. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Heroin https://medlineplus.gov/heroin.html
  6. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — What is Buprenorphrine? https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/medications-counseling-related-conditions/buprenorphine

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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