It is no secret that the United States has experienced an opioid epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), just over 14,000 Americans die each year from heroin overdoses, and 745,000 people use heroin within a given year.

The Effects of Heroin Addiction on Health & The Body

Beyond the risk of developing a heroin addiction and suffering from an overdose, this drug is linked with numerous health problems. If you or a loved one is living with a heroin addiction, the long-term health consequences associated with the drug may be the motivation needed to seek treatment.

Heroin and Dental Health

While people often associate methamphetamine with “meth mouth” and poor oral health, the truth is that heroin can also negatively affect the health of users’ teeth. Illegal drug use has long been linked to high sugar intake and poor oral hygiene, which can lead to tooth decay.

A study in The Journal of the American Dental Association found that heroin users were more likely to experience dental disease when compared to the general population, and their dental health was just as poor as methamphetamine users’ was.

Heroin Use and Nutrition

In addition to being linked to dental problems, the lifestyle surrounding heroin use is associated with poor nutrition.

Heroin can reduce appetite since it delays the emptying of the stomach, and the poverty associated with long-term heroin use can lead to homelessness and lack of resources to obtain food. Additionally, when a person becomes addicted to heroin and begins to compulsively seek out the drug, their drive to eat may be low. Based upon this fact, researchers have taken an interest in the typical nutritional habits of heroin users.

A study in the journal Addiction found that heroin users tended to eat infrequently and show little interest in food; when they did eat, their foods of choices were sweet, cheap, and convenient. Poor dietary habits in heroin users can lead to low body weight, nutritional deficiencies, and malnutrition.

Other Health Problems Linked to Heroin Abuse

There are truly a number of negative health outcomes that can arise from long-term heroin abuse. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, heroin abuse can lead to reproductive problems, such as irregular menstruation in women and sexual dysfunction in men. It is also linked to psychiatric problems, such as depression and personality disorders.

Sometimes, serious physical health issues can arise after ongoing heroin use. These include:

  • Infections in the cardiovascular system
  • Liver and kidney diseases
  • Lung problems like pneumonia
  • Stomach problems
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Collapsed veins from injection
  • Development of abscesses on the body
  • Increased risk of HIV

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Given the health consequences that come with heroin abuse, it is important that heroin users seek treatment not only to reduce the immediate consequences of drug use, but also to reduce the risk of significant health problems.

For those looking for comprehensive heroin addiction treatment, offers a 100% online rehab using our telehealth platform. We provide numerous services, including individual and group counseling, MAT, and telepsychiatry in a virtual format, so you can access addiction treatment from the comfort and privacy of home.