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The Effects of Heroin on Your Lungs and Respiratory System

John Templeton Jr. - May 26, 2020

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Think about the last time you found yourself in a stressful situation. At the time, you may have been told to take one deep breath after another to help you relax. And to your pleasant surprise, it worked! Each slow, deliberate breath helped you calm down and think more clearly. This is the power of your lungs and respiratory system on your personal wellbeing.

As we all find ourselves in the middle of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, respiratory health is important. Unfortunately, those struggling with heroin addiction may be more susceptible to the virus due to a weakened respiratory system.

In this post, we’ll take a deep breath together and look at the effects heroin can have on your lungs and respiratory system.

What Does Heroin Do to Your Lungs?

Did you know that heroin slows down your lung’s ability to function? This is important because decreased lung function makes it harder for your body to get the oxygen it needs. In fact, that’s why it’s common for anyone experiencing a heroin overdose to stop breathing.

The Risk of Empyema

Empyema is a dangerous lung condition where pus starts to build up in the space between the lungs and the chest. The danger of this condition is that it limits your lung’s ability to expand and contract. Someone with empyema can experience intense chest pain, difficulty breathing, coughing and shortness of breath.

The risk of getting empyema is usually low, but heroin use makes it more likely for your body to pick up this bacterial infection. Every time someone uses heroin, small bacteria particles enter the bloodstream.

When those particles reach the lungs, there’s a chance that they clog and infect blood vessels. Not only does this increase your risk for empyema, but the contaminants from the heroin can weaken your immune system.

Injecting Heroin Is More Dangerous for Your Lungs

The risk of infection and lung damage is more likely when you inject heroin. It’s common for heroin to be filtered through a piece of cotton before being injected. While some people think that filtering heroin through cotton helps remove bacteria, that’s not the case. The bacteria in the cotton actually increases the risk of developing a serious lung infection.

Given how the bacteria can impact your immune system, heroin use can even put you at a higher risk for COVID-19. In fact, other lung-related illnesses such as pneumonia, lung abscesses and even tuberculosis are common amongst heroin users.

What Does Heroin Do to Your Respiratory System?

Heroin use can have a big impact on your respiratory system. Respiratory depression is one of the most common conditions. Imagine your heart rate and breathing becoming progressively slower as the heroin begins to take effect. Unfortunately, heroin-induced respiratory depression is one of the leading causes of death among heroin users.

But the respiratory issues caused by heroin don’t stop there. Anyone with a heroin addiction may also be at risk for:

Pulmonary edema: This is when fluid collects in your lungs. People with pulmonary edema have an increased risk of respiratory failure.

Hypoxia: This condition is when your body develops a poor oxygen intake. The danger of hypoxia is that it puts you at risk for a wide variety of medical issues.

Weakened Immune System: Heroin use can make your respiratory system more vulnerable to infections.

You Have the Potential to Break Free from Heroin Addiction

No matter why your heroin addiction started or where it has taken you, there is a way back. At Footprints Beachside Recovery, we’ve been through addiction ourselves. And that’s how we know that there’s hope to reclaim what heroin use has stolen from you.

Our heroin recovery program in Florida can help you manage withdrawal symptoms, keep you safe from illnesses like COVID-19 and get you on the path to lasting recovery.

Find Lasting Recovery at Footprints Beachside Recovery

At Footprints Beachside Recovery, we know that no two addictions are the same. That’s why our heroin addiction treatment program is customized to your needs. You can expect one-on-one attention in a safe and calming environment.

The expert staff at our family-run addiction treatment center is ready to help you overcome your addiction. On the scenic shores of Florida, you can find hope for a healthier life.

If you need someone to talk to, we’re here. Contact us today to share your story and start on the path towards lasting recovery.

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