5 Horrifying Heroin Effects You Didn't Know About

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

It's no secret that heroin, of the opioid drug family, is a dangerous epidemic in the United States. The number of U.S. deaths from heroin per year has spiked from roughly 3,000 in 2008 to roughly 11,000 in 2014. In the short term, heroin significantly slows your heart, mental and respiratory functions. In the long term, it can cause a detrimental imbalance in your brain.

While it's generally understood that heroin use is not chill, there are several side effects and potential hazards associated with heroin use you probably didn't know that prove it has absolutely zero chill.

Read more: The 6 Stats You Need to Know to Understand America's Heroin Epidemic

Flesh-eating bacteria

Necrotizing soft tissue infection, known among the masses as flesh-eating bacteria, can be a result of injecting a batch of heroin contaminated with bacteria. The treatment? Most commonly, amputation. 

Chronic orgasms

Libido spikes during heroin withdrawal. Speaking to Cracked about his experience with heroin withdrawal while serving time in prison, one man described it as "Wake up? Orgasm! Accidentally brush it (his penis) with a scratchy jailhouse blanket? What a lovely orgasm! Shake it off after you pee into an industrial toilet? Bam, orgasm!"

While that sounds heavenly, apparently it's quite the opposite. "This stopped being pleasurable pretty much instantly — sharing living space with a guy named 'Tito the Butcher' isn't the most erotic of all possible atmospheres — but that didn't matter," the guy wrote. "I could shoot off three in 30 seconds whether I wanted to or not, and this sensitivity stayed with me for weeks."

Severe itching

Heroin, and opiates in general, trigger histamines, the compound the body produces while having an allergic reaction that makes us super itchy. A Drugs Forum user said the itching side effect subsides with more regular heroin use, but nobody wants to get to that point. 

"Itching is a really common side effect, but as soon as you start to build a habit, it generally goes altogether," Mickey_Bee posted. "When you stop itching from a good dose of opiates, you know you're teetering on the brink of a fucking huge cliff...."

Newborn addicts

Pregnant opiate users can birth babies that are already addicted. "This is not only true for a woman who has used heroin during pregnancy, but it could also apply to any opiate drug, such as a mother who has been taking methadone (a synthetic opiate used to withdraw from heroin) or prescription opiates," prenatal drug exposure expert and psychiatry/pediatrics professor at Brown University Alpert Medical School Barry Lester told LiveScience.

Effects of the syndrome, known as neonatal abstinence syndrome, include uncontrolled crying, gradual weight gain, fever and vomiting. Babies who experience this syndrome are treated with a dose of opiates that is gradually reduced to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Rotting teeth

One of the main side effects of opiates is drymouth, which essentially sucks up all the saliva in your mouth. Saliva is a cleaning agent that rids the teeth of common bacteria, so lack of saliva causes your teeth to rot and eventually fall out. 

"Ya, any opiate or drug that causes drymouth will destroy your teeth if your not extremely diligent about brushing and flossing etc." one user contributed to a thread on MedHelp.Org. "I've lost a few teeth from using oxys and morphine over the last 8 yrs and I was seeing a dentist regularly."

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Jessica Eggert

Jessica is a staff writer at Mic, covering breaking news. She is based in New York and can be reached at jessica@mic.com.

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