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Heroin Facts

  • Over 80% of heroin users inject with a partner, yet 80% of overdose victims found by paramedics are found alone.
  • Slang terms for heroin include: smack, mud, dope, horse, junk, brown sugar, big H, and black tar.
  • Street names associated with heroin include "smack," "H," "skag," and "junk." Other names may refer to types of heroin produced in a specific geographical area, such as "Mexican black tar."
  • Heroin also poses special problems because of the transmission of HIV and other diseases that can occur from sharing needles or other injection equipment.

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."

Heroin Side Effects 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:

  • Rush
  • Depressed respiration
  • Clouded mental functioning
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Suppression of pain
  • Spontaneous abortion

Long term heroin side effects include but are not limited to:

  • Addiction
  • Abscesses
  • Collapsed veins
  • Bacterial infections
  • Infection of heart lining and valves
  • Arthritis and other rheumatologic problems
  • Infectious diseases, for example, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C
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