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Heroin Facts

  • Heroin is sometimes sniffed, or the fumes from the heated powder is inhaled (this method is sometimes called "chasing the dragon").
  • Typically, a heroin abuser may inject up to four times a day.
  • Recent studies suggest a shift from injecting to snorting or smoking heroin because of increased purity and the misconception that these forms of use will not lead to addiction.
  • Users often experience nausea and vomiting the first time they take heroin, especially after injecting.

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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