OPEN DIALOGUE SERIES: Commonly Used Illegal Drugs – Heroin

Heroin Use

What is Heroin?

Heroin is an illegal, opioid drug synthesized from morphine, a natural substance derived from the seedpod of the opium poppy.

In its purest form, heroin is fine, white powder.  As the drug is “cut” with other substances its colour and consistency can change.  Street heroin can range from a white powder to a beige or brown grainy substance to a dark black tar.  The purity of heroin varies significantly from batch to batch and depending on which additives are used to cut the drug, this will determine its potency and risk.

How Does Heroin Work?

Heroin works by activating the opioid receptors in the brain which regulate pain and the feeling of euphoria.  Heroin also depresses the central nervous system and spinal cord which slows motor function creating a feeling of relaxation and lethargy.

Heroin users typically feel a brief rush of euphoria, followed quickly by the feeling of drowsiness and sedation or what is known as “the nod.”  The effects of heroin can last for three to five hours, depending on the dose.

Heroin is highly addictive. And the risk of addiction starts from the first use.

Regular use of heroin creates a tolerance that demands more and more of the drug to achieve the same high. Once dependent on heroin, users must use every six to twelve hours to avoid withdrawal symptoms which creates a rapid downward spiral into deadly addiction.

What are the Street Names for Heroin?

Smack, Dope, H, Junk, Skag, Tar, China White, Mud, Black Tar, Skunk, Big H, Horse, Boy, White, White Stuff, White Nurse, White Lady, Chiba, Chiva, Brown Sugar, Brown Crystal, Mexican Brown, Mexican Mud, Black Tar, Black Pearl, Snow, Dragon, Nose Drops

How is Heroin Administered? 

Heroin can be injected, smoked, snorted, swallowed, or inserted as a suppository.

Short Term Health Effects of Heroin Use

Drowsiness, sedation, lethargy, limb heaviness, slowed breathing and heart rate, dizziness, confusion, loss of appetite, constipation, headaches, dry mouth, runny nose, itching, sweating, euphoria, nausea, vomiting, and unconsciousness.

Long-Term Health Effects from Heroin Abuse

Insomnia, depression, sexual dysfunction, irregular periods, chronic constipation, collapsed veins, abscesses, miscarriage, infection of the heart lining and valves, hepatitis, HIV, liver disease, kidney disease, brain damage, overdose, and death.

If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin abuse, help is available. Call The Farm Rehab 1-877-353-2777.  Hope and healing is possible at The Farm, a private residential addiction treatment centre offering personalized drug and alcohol treatment and counseling.

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