WHAT IS HEROIN?
Heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant. While in the brain, heroin converts to morphine and binds rapidly to opioid receptors.
WHAT DOES HEROIN LOOK LIKE?
Heroin comes in various forms, but pure heroin is a white powder with a better taste. Most illicit heroin comes in powder form in colors ranging from white to dark brown. “Black Tar” is another form of heroin that resembles roofing tar or is hard like coal.
HOW IS HEROIN CONSUMED?
Heroin can be injected, smoked, or snorted. Intravenous injection produces the greatest intensity and most rapid onset of euphoria.
WHAT DOES HEROIN DO TO ME?
The effects of heroin are felt 7 to 8 seconds after injection. Even though effects for sniffing or smoking develop more slowly, beginning in 10 to 15 minutes, its popularity has
increased because of the availability of high-purity heroin and the fear of sharing needles. After an infection of heroin, users report feeling a surge of euphoria often referred to as the “rush”. The rush is accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, dry mouth, and a heavy feeling in the arms and legs. Following the initial effects, the user goes “on the nod”. The user will be drowsy for several hours with clouded mental function and slow cardiac function due to the depression of the central nervous system. Breathing is also slowed, possibly to the point of death.
Heroin use can lead to medical consequences such as scarred and/or collapsed veins, bacterial infections of the blood vessels and heart valves, abscesses and other soft-tissue infections, and liver or kidney disease. Addiction is the most detrimental effect of heroin use because it is a chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, as well as molecular changes in the brain. Heroin is also associated with serious conditions including spontaneous abortion, fatal overdose, and particularly in users who inject the drug, infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
With regular heroin use, tolerance develops. As higher doses are used, physical dependency and addiction follow. With physical dependency, the body has adapted to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms may occur if use is stopped. Withdrawal produces drug craving, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps and kicking movements. Sudden withdrawal by heavily dependent users who are in poor health is occasionally fatal.
Heroin is often referred to these names on the street:
Smack, Junk, Dope, Big H, Brown Sugar, Horse, Mud and Black Tar.
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse