Heroin Facts

  • Heroin can be injected into a vein ("mainlining"), injected into a muscle, smoked in a water pipe or standard pipe, mixed in a marijuana joint or regular cigarette, inhaled as smoke through a straw, known as "chasing the dragon," snorted as powder via the nose.
  • Slang terms for heroin include: smack, mud, dope, horse, junk, brown sugar, big H, and black tar.
  • Because heroin abusers do not know the actual strength of the drug or its true contents, they are at risk of overdose or death.
  • Injection continues to be the predominant method of heroin use among addicted users seeking treatment; however, researchers have observed a shift in heroin use patterns, from injection to sniffing and smoking.

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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