Mode of Action
- Heroin enters the body via the blood and arrives at the synapse. Morphine which is produced by heroin is a pain killer and a depressent.
- It acts as an antagonist for GABA receptors, blocking the receptors, inhibiting GABA.
- GABA role is to slow down neural firing. Its partner Glutamate tries to adapt to maintain homeostasis.
- The Synapse floods with GABA as it is not being transmitted. There is then an over production of Glutamate.
- The process mimics endorphins which causes over production of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which stimulates the reward pathway creating a feeling of euphoria.
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Short term effects:
- pleasure feeling
- pain reduction
- rush: dry mouth, heavy limbs, flushing of the skin, sickness and 'itchy blood'.
- relaxation, drowsiness, slowing of mental functions and heart rate.
- rush occurs 7 seconds after the injection.
Long term effects:
- psychological and physical dependence
- withdrawal symptoms
- HIV, Hepatitis, embolisms, clogging of blood vessels
- breathing difficulties, poor immune system
- risk of miscarriage
- poor memory
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- Body needs heroin to function normally.
- Process of addiction.
- Brain produces less endorphins, addicts rely on heroin for pleasure and pain reduction.
- Withdrawal will occur.
- Rapid tolerance causes quick dependency.
- Cravings are hard to resist.
- Heroin becomes central to the users every day life.
- Important for the persons mental state.
- May help to get through social problems, lack of employment, dulling of the senses.
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- Heroin is taken over an increasing period of time, more of it will be needed to achieve the same initial high.
- A stage may be reached where no amount of drug achieves the high, and it is at this point that the addict would take heroin to avoid nasty withdrawal symptoms.
- The drug is needed for normal functioning, to maintain homeostasis.
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- Even if heroin is taken for 3 days, withdrawal can occur once it is stopped.
- The symptoms start 6 hours after the last drug, this is linked to tolerance and quantity of last dose.
- Includes: sweating, diarrhea, anxiety, depression, sensitivity, heaviness, cramps, insomnia, itchy blood.
- Because of withdrawl, a cycle of drug taking occurs.
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