Legal status in US: Illegal to possess, manufacture or sell.
Origin: Opium poppy plant. Synthesized from morphine.
Estimated use: Nearly 2% of Americans have tried it. Over 20% of users become dependent.
Street names: H, Big H, Smack, Horse, Brown, Black Tar, Thunder, Hell Dust, Negra, and others.
Appearance: White powder, brown powder, or black sticky substance. Powder heroin is often "cut" with other substances including sugar, powdered milk, starch, and even toxic materials.
Administering: Injected or snorted or smoked. Purer heroin is often smoked or snorted. Black tar heroin is injected.
Short-Term Effects of Heroin
Heroin acts quickly and affects the brain markedly. The initial effects include sensations of warm flushes on the skin, dry mouth, impaired coordination, compromised brain function, and alternating between alertness and drowsiness.
Pregnant women are also at high risk of heroin causing spontaneous miscarriage.
Effects of Heroin Abuse and Overdose
High doses of heroin, particularly overdose, may cause respiratory distress and other severe problems. Breathing may become slow and shallow, lips and extremities may turn blue, loss of consciousness may follow, and the person may experience convulsions, enter a coma or even die.
Apart from the effects listed, heroin sold on the street is likely to be adulterated. The additives may be toxic and may cause permanent damage to vital organs like the brain, kidneys and liver.
The risks of overdose and poisoning are high because the user usually has no idea of the strength or purity of the heroin.
Heroin Crash Effects
As heroin wears off, a person may become irritable. Some people will experience a depression that causes their emotions to be cut off and "flatlined". Craving for more heroin to take difficulties and bad feelings away can be strong. Constipation in the early stages is also common.
Long-Term Effects of Using Heroin
Many users are known to share needles, which is extremely hazardous. Continued injection of heroin dramatically increases the risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis, and other blood-borne diseases.
Heroin dependency and addiction will occur through continued use. A person will experience intense cravings but will not achieve the same "rush" unless the dosage of heroin is increased.
Long-term use is likely to cause severe depression, collapsed veins, infection of the heart linings and valves, arthritis, problems with organ functions, memory loss and diminished brain function. As an addict's health deteriorates, the immune system is less able to fight off infections and viruses.
Addicts are very likely to lose people and things that are important in their lives - friends, family, job, money, confidence, even their homes. Lying and stealing are common habits of heroin addicts.
Treatment for Heroin Dependency and Addiction
No person should attempt breaking heroin dependence or addiction alone. The drug has a powerful chemical hold on the brain. Withdrawal symptoms are very unpleasant - agitation, anxiety, sweating, insomnia, aching muscles, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and more.
It is important to seek professional help as soon as possible. Reputable rehab centers or facilities have highly qualified professionals who will provide the right kind of care to anyone affected.
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