Heroin is an opiate, a class of drugs that are either naturally derived from the flowers of the poppy plant, or synthetic substitutes. Heroin is made from morphine, a naturally occurring substance that comes from the seedpod of poppy plants. It can be a white or brown powder, or a black sticky substance. Heroin may be abused by injecting, snorting or smoking it, and all can result in the same level of addiction, as well as serious health problems and risk of death.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS?
All opiate abuse, whether heroin or prescription painkillers, carries a nearly-definite risk of addiction and physical dependence. Heroin suppresses breathing and enters the brain quickly which makes it particularly addictive. It’s estimated that almost one-fourth of the people who try heroin become addicted. Even more worrisome is that over time, heroin users develop a tolerance, meaning that a higher dosage of the drug is needed to achieve the same results. Physical dependence occurs when a user’s body adapts to the drug’s presence, causing withdrawal leading to muscle and bone pain, diarrhea and vomiting. Chronic heroin users can begin experiencing withdrawal in as little as a few hours. Heroin also often contains additives that will not dissolve in the bloodstream leading to a potential blood clot formation. If a blood clot travels to the lungs, liver, heart or brain, it can be instantly fatal.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. Drug Facts: Heroin.
AKA: SMACK, SKAG, CHINA WHITE, MEXICAN BLACK TAR
Heroin use destroys the body in a short amount of time. Users may develop collapsed veins, an infection of the heart lining and valves, liver or kidney disease, lung complications, including pneumonia, and hepatitis and HIV/AIDS from needle use.