Nausea is a highly distressing queasy feeling that may or may not result in vomiting. What’s more, nausea typically, though not definitively, occurs before vomiting.
Many people think that heroin induced nausea is an allergic reaction, but that’s not true. Nausea is actually a normal function of the brain. The Medulla Oblongata, which is one of the oldest parts of the brain, reacts to opioids in the bloodstream. The Medulla Oblongata tells the stomach it may be time to throw up. Not the other way around.
Opioid induced nausea
Heroin is classified as an opioid. Opioids are typically used to treat pain and diarrhea. But unlike painkillers and antidiarrheals, heroin is used to get high. One of the more common side effects of opioid use is nausea. We know that within hospitals nausea occurs in 25 – 30 percent of patients treated with opioids. Since heroin involves greater average dosing and subsequent amplified effects, it results in higher than average nauseating events. We also know that nausea and/or vomiting occurs more in blacks than whites and more in women than in men.
Heroin and nausea
The first time a person uses heroin they typically get nauseous and throw up. It’s not a rule that a person has to get nauseous and throw up, but it’s common. Strangely enough, nausea is a normal part of the heroin addict lifestyle. In truth, many heroin addicts glean pleasure from throwing up. The reason being, they perceive it to mean “strong heroin.”
Chemoreceptor trigger zone
Immediately after heroin is administered, it metabolizes into 6-monoacetylmorphine (6-MAM) and Morphine, which subsequently triggers the release of dopamine. The more 6-MAM, Morphine and dopamine detected by the Chemoreceptor Trigger Zone (CTZ), which is part of the Medulla Oblongata, the greater the potential for throwing up. Although the precise mechanisms of heroin-induced nausea and vomiting are not entirely certain, it appears that stimulation of the CTZ, and activation of opioid receptors in the GI tract are both involved.
The CTZ is part of the medulla oblongata, which is located at the lower brain stem, which is connected to the spinal cord. The Medulla Oblongata is also the oldest part of the nervous system, thus responsible for many involuntary functions, such as heart rate, breathing, sneezing and vomiting.
Over the typical heroin addict career, tolerance develops to both nausea and vomiting. Eventually both of these uncomfortable side effects fade away.
The first line of defense against opioid induced nausea and vomiting would be to stop taking opioids (painkillers and heroin). Another but less common treatment for opioid induced nausea and vomiting is administration of an opioid-antagonist.