Heroin is toxic to the brain with every single dose. Even when a person does not overdose, every time he or she takes heroin, the brain receives an injury. There are several types of brain injuries associated with heroin addiction.
Brain Disintegration Similar to Alzheimer’s Disease
It does not take long at all for heroin use to cause brain damage in the form of brain disintegration. According to a study from the University of Edinburgh, brain scans of a twenty-five-year-old heroin addict look similar to scans of elderly Alzheimer’s patients. Heroin causes brain tissue to deteriorate, and when it does, the brain does not function correctly.
Temporary Drops in Oxygen Levels in the Brain from Routine Heroin Use
Every time a person uses heroin, the brain experiences a temporary drop in its level of oxygen. Since it only takes a few minutes of oxygen deprivation to damage brain tissue, heroin users experience a cognitive decline that increases with each use of the drug.
Many heroin addicts experience sleep apnea, which means that he or she stops breathing many times during the night. While the person is not breathing, the brain is not getting oxygen. This oxygen deprivation compounds the damage that the heroin use inflicts on the brain.
Head Injuries from Accidental Falls
Accidental falls are common among heroin users. These falls frequently cause head injuries, which can damage the brain in two ways: the impact to the head can cause traumatic brain injury and the lack of oxygen while the person is unconscious can cause anoxic (lack of oxygen) brain damage.
“Spongy” Brain Deterioration
The way a person administers the heroin does not matter when it comes to damaging the brain. Whether the addict smokes or injects the heroin, the chemical substance is toxic. Heroin can cause the brain tissue to break down into a spongy state. Consequences of this deterioration include overall physical weakness, spastic attacks, and permanent hand tremors.
Ability to Make Decisions and Regulate Behavior
All opioids, including heroin, can change the brain’s ability to regulate behavior and make decisions. When these abilities diminish, the person becomes more likely to continue to use heroin, which harms the brain more and makes the person more likely to make poor choices, which spirals into a vicious cycle of addiction.
Physical Changes in the Grey Matter of the Brain
A person can develop physical abnormalities in the grey matter of the brain from using heroin. Damaged grey matter can impact the central nervous system and the way that the brain processes sensory information.
A person with grey matter damage affecting the central nervous system can lose the ability to control body movement. He or she can also lose the ability to think or to interpret her environment.
When the grey matter damage affects sensory processing, the heroin addict can experience hallucinations, delusions, and other jumbled interpretations of sensory information.
Physical Changes in the White Matter of the Brain
The white matter of the brain is the “wiring” that links the different areas of the brain to each other and lets them communicate. When heroin use deteriorates the white matter, the person can develop an untreatable and incurable disease called leukoencephalopathy. People with this condition experience slurred speech, dementia, and loss of the ability to maintain attention.
Lesions in the Hippocampus Region
The hippocampus area of the brain performs many functions, including making new brain cells to replace the ones that wear out in everyday life. Heroin causes lesions in the brain, which can prevent the person from creating new brain cells. Without a fresh, ongoing supply of new brain cells to replace ones that die off, the heroin user’s brain will deteriorate by default.
Lesions to the hippocampus region from heroin abuse can cause severe mental disturbances. Also, damage to the hippocampus from heroin addiction can cause unusual types of amnesia.
How to Get Help
If your loved one became addicted to heroin due to another party’s negligence and suffered a brain injury, a lawyer can help you go after money damages. We handle severe injury lawsuits and complex litigation. As a client of Newsome | Melton, you will receive the personal attention and our promise to fight to get you the compensation you deserve. When we handle your legal matter, you can focus your energy and attention on rebuilding your life.
Our brain injury lawyers handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, which is why you do not have to pay us upfront legal fees. Our fees come out of the settlement proceeds or court award at the end of the matter. We do not get paid until you win.
For a free consultation, call Newsome | Melton today at 888-808-5977. There is no obligation.