- According to DAWNs Year End 1998 Emergency Department Data, 14 percent of all emergency department drug-related episodes had mentions of heroin/morphine in 1998.
- In the brain, heroin is converted to morphine and binds rapidly to opioid receptors.
- Heroin also poses special problems because of the transmission of HIV and other diseases that can occur from sharing needles or other injection equipment.
- According to the National Household Survey for 1994, 2.2 million Americans have tried heroin; 191,000 had used it in the previous 30 days.
Heroin Side Effects
Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive opiate drug. Its abuse is more widespread than any other opiate. Heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of certain varieties of poppy plants. It is typically sold as a white or brownish powder or as the black sticky substance known on the streets as "black tar heroin."
One of the most detrimental side effectst of heroin, is heroin addiction itself. Heroin addiction is a chronic problem, characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, and by neurochemical and molecular changes in the brain. Heroin also produces profound degrees of tolerance and physical addiction, which are also powerful motivating factors for compulsive use and abuse. As with abusers of any addictive drug, heroin addicts gradually spend more and more time and energy obtaining and using the drug. Once they are addicted, the heroin abusers' primary purpose in life becomes seeking and using heroin. Heroin literally changes their brains.
Short term heroin side effects include but are not limited to:
- Depressed respiration
- Clouded mental functioning
- Nausea and vomiting
- Suppression of pain
- Spontaneous abortion
Long term heroin side effects include but are not limited to:
- Collapsed veins
- Bacterial infections
- Infection of heart lining and valves
- Arthritis and other rheumatologic
- Infectious diseases, for example, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C