Street Names
  • Smack 
  • Sugar
  • Antifreeze
  • Skag 
  • Brown Sugar
  • Junk 
  • Dr. Feelgood
  • Mexican Black Tar 
  • Pure
  • Ska 
  • Hero
  • Dope 
  • Globo
Heroin is a highly addictive opiate substance processed from the seedpod of certain types of poppy plants. Heroin is usually processed into a white or brown powder. It can also be processed into a black sticky substance known as black tar heroin. The trend in heroin production is moving toward more a pure product than in the past, however it is impossible to know the actual strength or contents of street heroin. Heroin, like other drugs, is ‘cut’ with other substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk, baking soda, laundry detergent, other drugs or even poisons like strychnine (rat poison).

Heroin can be used in a variety of ways such as injecting (intravenously or intramuscularly) or subcutaneously known as ‘skin popping’), snorting or smoking. Most users inject heroin, however it is becoming increasing common to find users snorting or smoking heroin due to the misconception that it is safer. The effects of heroin begin quickly, 7-8 seconds for intravenous use, 5-8 minutes for intramuscular use, and 10-15 minutes for other methods and wear off in a few hours.

- A ‘bag’, slang for a single dose of heroin sells for about $10

Consequences of Heroin use:
  • Surge of euphoria 
  • Reduced respiration
  • Warmness of the skin 
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry Mouth 
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Heaviness of the extremities 
  • Slowed cardiac function
  • Reduced pain 
  • Severe itching
  • Nausea 
  • Clouded mental functioning
  • Vomiting 
  • Spontaneous abortion
  • Constipation 
  • Fatal overdose
  • Hypothermia 
  • Infectious diseases such as HIV or Hepatitis (for iv users)

Risks for Chronic Users:
  • Infection of the heart lining & valves 
  • Arthritis & other rheumatologic problems
  • Abscesses 
  • Kidney Disease
  • Cellulitis 
  • Collapsed veins
  • Liver disease 
Withdrawal symptoms from heroin may occur a few hours after the last use and peak after about 48-72 hours. Symptoms disappear after a week and can be lethal to a fetus. Symptoms include:
  • Drug Craving 
  • Cold Flashes
  • Restlessness 
  • Kicking Movements
  • Muscle & Bone Pain 
  • Abdominal Cramps
  • Insomnia 
  • Runny Nose
  • Diarrhea 
  • Full Body Shakes
  • Vomiting 

Treatment of Heroin Overdose and Addiction

Behavioral Methods
Heroin addiction is usually treated with both medical and behavioral methods and may include inpatient or outpatient treatment.

People who overdose on heroin are given this drug which is an opiate receptor blocker that binds to neurons so opiates cannot work.

Methadone is a drug that blocks the effects of heroin and has been used for several decades to treat heroin addiction. Methadone can be swallowed (rather than injected) and it blocks heroin withdrawal symptoms and generally does not have euphoric or sedative effects.

LAAM (levo-alpha-acetyl-methadol) is a drug like methadone, but its effects last longer.

Buprenorphine is chemically similar to an opioid. However, it has less of a risk for an overdose than morphine, heroin or methadone and has milder withdrawal symptoms when its use is stopped.

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