Also known as horse, dope, H, Big H, brown sugar, black tar, smack, skag, mud, Mexican brown, China white
What it is:
Heroin is an opiate, which means that it comes from a flower called the opium poppy. Opiates are used in hospitals as painkillers for patients in serious pain from injury, surgery, or illness; morphine is another opiate that you might see used for medical purposes. Heroin is a brown or white powder that is sometimes snorted or smoked. Most of the time, users turn it into a liquid and inject the drug into their veins with a needle.
People who use it may experience:
- Euphoria, a "rush" of well-being
- Reduced pain
- Dry mouth
- Droopy eyelids and smaller pupils
- Flushed skin
- Heavy arms and legs
- Slow thinking and movement
- Slow and slurred speech
- Periods of sleepiness, sometimes called "the nod"
The big, serious health risks are:
- Collapsed veins
- Heart infections
- Death from overdose
Using heroin is a problem because:
- Heroin is one of the most physically addictive drugs in the world, and breaking the addiction can be very difficult.
- Users develop tolerance, meaning that they eventually need more and more of the drug to get the same effect.
- Because heroin can be expensive, users often turn to crime to get drug money.
- Sharing needles can lead to infectious diseases, including hepatitis and AIDS.
- Quitting the drug or "kicking the habit" can lead to bad withdrawal symptoms, including pain, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, cold flashes, and an incredible craving to return to the drug.
- Quitting suddenly, called "going cold turkey," can lead to death in long-term addicts in bad health.
In the next section we look at Prescription Medications that people sometimes abuse.