Heroin

Heroin is processed from morphine, which is a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant. This drug is a very powerful narcotic and one of the most physically and psychologically addictive drugs on Earth.

Facts

Severely addicts users

Causes panic attacks, tremors, sweating, vomiting and insomnia

Street names for heroin include smack, mud, junk, white horse, china white, tar, black, dope and nod

Appears as black tar, brown or white powder

Distinguishing scars/marks of user consist of:

Track marks and collapsed veins from injecting

Continual runny noses from snorting

Bleeding from the nose due to snorting

Possible poly-drug combinations and consequences include speedballing with cocaine and spreading HIV and hepatitis through dirty needles

Accompanying paraphernalia includes

Needles for injecting the drug

Burned spoons from cooking down the drug

Razor blades for separating the powder form of the drug

Straws for snorting the powder form of the drug

Pipes for smoking the drug

Effects

Heroin activates regions of the brain that are responsible for producing both pleasurable sensations and physical dependence. It depresses the central nervous system and makes the user appear tired, drowsy or drunk rather than energetic or hyperactive.

Heroin abusers have a need for persistent, repeated use of the drug because of the painful physical withdrawal symptoms that result from non-use. These symptoms are typically quite severe and include panic attacks, tremors, sweating, nausea, muscle cramps and insomnia.

Abusing heroin leads to serious health risks, including fatal overdose, spontaneous abortion, collapsed veins and risky behavior that may lead to HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other infectious diseases. Users are also at high risk of pulmonary and respiratory complications.

Heroin has a high potential for abuse and is classified as a Schedule I drug in the United States.

What heroin does to your

Brain—Enters the brain quickly and slows down thinking, reaction time and memory. After a short period of use, many addicts no longer experience the high—they use heroin only for relief of painful withdrawal symptoms.

Heart—Chronic users may develop collapsed veins and infection of the heart lining and valves. Pulmonary complications may also result from the poor health condition of the abuser.

Liver—Chronic users may develop liver disease. Street heroin has additives that do not readily dissolve and clog the blood vessels that lead to the liver. This can cause infection or even death of small patches of cells in the organ. Hepatitis B and C are very prevalent in IV drug users and can cause fatal liver failure.

Lungs—Heroin depresses the central nervous system and may slow breathing to the point of respiratory failure. Pulmonary complications, including various types of pneumonia, may also result.