The most severe side effect some users experience from heroin maintenance is osteoporosis after long-term use.
osteoporosis os·te·o·po·ro·sis (ŏs'tē-ō-pə-rō'sĭs)
n. pl. os·te·o·po·ro·ses (-sēz)
A disease in which the bones become extremely porous, are subject to fracture, and heal slowly, occurring especially in women following menopause and often leading to curvature of the spine from vertebral collapse.
A bone disease characterized by decrease in bone mass and density, resulting in a predisposition to fractures and bone deformities such as the collapse of one or more vertebrae. It occurs most commonly in women after menopause as a result of estrogen deficiency. Calcium supplementation and weight-bearing exercise are used to treat and prevent osteoporosis.
A softening of the bones that gradually increases and makes them more fragile. It is caused by the gradual loss of the mineral calcium, which helps make bones hard. Osteoporosis occurs most often in elderly women.
Note: Many experts now believe that osteoporosis can be prevented through regular exercise, mineral supplements, and a diet high in calcium.