Heroin: Mental effects
Last modified: Sunday, 31. May 2009 - 4:11 pm
The force of heroin’s initial impact on the user, and the duration and intensity of the high, depends on the method of ingestion. If injected directly into the bloodstream, the euphoric “rush” hits the user in less than 10 seconds. Intramuscular or subcutaneous injection produces a much more gradual response as the drug takes longer (six to eight minutes) to filter into the bloodstream. Smoking heroin also produces less of an initial rush and a more gradual response to the dose, anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes.
It is the drug’s sudden entry into the brain that accounts for the initial surge of energy. The rush is thought to last as long as it takes the brain and body to break heroin down into morphine, which is then absorbed by the body’s opioid receptors. This stage finds the user going “on the nod,” an alternatively wakeful and pleasurably drowsy state that lasts four to six hours.
Given that the morphine is artificially dosing the brain’s opiate receptors, it is not surprising to hear users describe a powerful state of complete fulfillment and a tremendous sense of self-satisfaction while under the influence of the drug. Over time, because of the development of tolerance (needing higher doses more frequently to achieve the same effects felt at first use), heavy users and addicts lose the ability to get high and use the drug solely to counteract the effects of withdrawal.