The body experiences a ‘high’ from heroin which usually lasts a few hours. A peak is experienced approximately 2 hours post administration. In order to understand how long a high on heroin can last, it is important to understand the effect heroin has on the body, brain and why it produces such a euphoric feeling for individuals who use heroin.
One of the first organs in the body to be affected by heroin is the brain. Heroin converts to morphine upon entering the brain and opioid receptors in the central nervous system bind with morphine cells to affect pain perception and reward. Blood pressure, respiration and heart rate are also impacted by heroin. Regular use of heroin results in changes to the brain’s functioning. Repeated use leads to tolerance and eventually active addiction whereby an individual cannot manage without craving the drug and seeking ways to get high on a constant basis. More of the drug will be required to achieve the initial result which can lead to a risk of overdose. A psychological urge to use heroin will continue despite negative consequences to the person’s life.
Heroin is commonly snorted or injected but can also be ingested or smoked to produce a different high. Intravenous use of heroin provides a high within 20 seconds with a duration of approximately 4 hours. When smoked, a dose of 20 mg of heroin can produce a peak onset of effects about 10 minutes later lasting only 5 minutes. Duration of the effects for smoking heroin is almost 5 hours. Some effects may include a euphoric feeling, a sense of vitality and a physiological increase in body temperature. Euphoria may last as little as 45 seconds to several minutes. Duration of peak effects last approximately 2 hours with the overall ‘high’ wearing off in about 5 hours after heroin administration. A sensation of drowsiness and disconnection from the world may occur.
A person who uses heroin will experience temporary feelings of euphoria followed by some dangerous physiological processes. Breathing becomes shallow, problems with concentration emerge and perception and cognition are affected. The body temperature also rises during this time. If heroin was injected, the individual may feel a burning or itching sensation on the skin. Following the ‘rush’ or euphoric feeling, an individual may have difficulty breathing, become very alert and active or go into a latent sleeping state. An irregular pulse rate begins, which puts the individual in grave danger at risk of an overdose leading to unconsciousness, coma or death.
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