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Heroin Facts & Information

What is Heroin?

Heroin is an opioid drug that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder or as a black sticky substance, known as “black tar heroin.”

Street Names:

Big H, Brown Sugar, H, Hell Dust, Horse, Junk, Nose Drops, Skag , Smack, Thunder

What Does Heroin Look Like?

Heroin in its purest form is usually a white powder. Less pure forms have varied colors ranging from white to brown. "Black tar" heroin is dark brown or black and has a tar-like sticky feel to it.

heroin image

How is Heroin Used?

Heroin can be injected, inhaled by snorting or sniffing, or smoked. All three routes of administration deliver the drug to the brain very rapidly, which contributes to its health risks and to its high risk for addiction, which is a chronic relapsing disease caused by changes in the brain and characterized by uncontrollable drug-seeking no matter the consequences.

What are the effects of Heroin?

Users who inject heroin will feel a euphoric surge or 'rush' as it is often called. Their mouths may become dry. They may begin to nod in and out and their arms and legs will feel heavy and rubbery. They may experience a diminished mental capacity and dulled emotions. The effects of heroin last three to four hours after each dose has been administered.

What are the Hazards of Heroin?

There are many health risks to using heroin. The short-term risks include fatal overdose and the high risk of infections such as HIV/AIDS.

The long-term user has additional risks such as:

•Collapsed veins
•Infection of the heart lining and valves
•Abscesses
•Cellulitis
•Liver Disease
•Pulmonary complications, including various types of pneumonia
•Overdose

What is Heroin Withdrawal Like?

When the drug is discontinued, the user will experience physical withdrawal. The withdrawal can begin within a few hours since it was last administered.

Withdrawal symptoms include:
•Restlessness
•Insomnia
•Diarrhea
•Vomiting
•Cold flashes with goose bumps
•Kicking movements
•Muscle and bone pain

Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose and subside after about a week. Sudden withdrawal by heavily dependent users who are in poor health can be fatal.

Need Help?

To get help anywhere in British Columbia, call Alcohol and Drug Information Referral Service 1-800-663-1441 (throughout BC) or 604-660-9382 (in Greater Vancouver)

For more information on dealing with alcohol or other drugs, visit www.heretohelp.bc.ca