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Heroin Use Disorder

What is Heroin?

Overview: Heroin is a highly addictive drug and the most rapidly acting of the opiates.

 

Street Names: Big H, Black Tar, Chiva, Hell Dust, Horse, Negra, Smack, Thunder

 

Looks Like: Heroin is typically sold as a white or brownish powder, or as the black sticky substance known on the streets as "black tar heroin." Although purer heroin is becoming more common, most street heroin is "cut" with other drugs or with substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk, or quinine.

 

Methods of Abuse: Heroin can be injected, smoked, or sniffed/ snorted. High purity heroin is usually snorted or smoked.

 

Affect on Mind: Because it enters the brain so rapidly, heroin is particularly addictive, both psychologically and physically. Heroin abusers report feeling a surge of euphoria or "rush," followed by a twilight state of sleep and wakefulness.

 

Affect on Body: One of the most significant effects of heroin use is addiction. With regular heroin use, tolerance to the drug develops. Once this happens, the abuser must use more heroin to achieve the same intensity. As higher doses of the drug are used over time, physical dependence and addiction to the drug develop. Physical symptoms of heroin use include: drowsiness, respiratory depression, constricted pupils, nausea, a warm flushing of the skin, dry mouth, and heavy extremities.

 

Drugs Causing Similar Effects: Other opioids such as OxyContin®, Vicodin®, codeine, morphine, methadone, and fentanyl can cause similar effects as heroin.

 

Overdose Effects: Because heroin abusers do not know the actual strength of the drug or its true contents, they are at a high risk of overdose or death. The effects of a heroin overdose are: slow and shallow breathing, blue lips and fingernails, clammy skin, convulsions, coma, and possible death. 

 

*Above information and images below courtesy of the Drug Enforcement Administration (www.dea.gov)