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What is Heroin?

A medical pain-killer and illegal recreational drug synthesized from morphine, a derivative of the opium poppy. First synthesized in 1874 by C. R. Alder Wright, an English chemist, it is a dangerous substance with high addictive potential.

Demand for heroin is high, and naturally heroin traffic worldwide is heavy, with Afghanistan accounting for production of 87 percent of the world's heroin.

The Basics

What it is, what does it look like, how is it ingested?

Heroin is derived from morphine and can be called H, smack, junk or horse on the street. It can look like a white or brown powder. "Black tar" heroin is dark and sticky. This drug can be injected, smoked, or snorted. Learn more about the basics... of using heroin.

Effects of Heroin

What it does, the physical and mental effects while high, what happens in the brain, after-effects of using heroin.

Heroin creates a feeling of euphoria, followed by alternate states of alertness and drowsiness. Users experience dry mouth, a heavy feeling in the extremities, and a warm skin flush. Heroin use slows down respiration rates in users. Learn more about the effects... of doing heroin.

Heroin Dosage and Amounts Taken

How much heroin will cause an overdose? What is a lethal dose of the drug?

The purity of heroin varies, depending on the amount of other substances that have been added to it. Users have died after ingesting between 200-500 mg of the drug. Long-term users, however, may be able to take larger doses without fatal consequences.

Dangers and Long-Term Effects of Heroin Abuse

Risk of overdose, contracting HIV through needle sharing, what are the long term effects of use?

Since heroin slows down respiration, there is a danger of respiratory arrest when this drug is used. Users who inject heroin risk contracting HIV/AIDs or hepatitis from needle sharing. Heroin can also increase risk of miscarriage, pneumonia, liver and kidney disease. Learn more about the dangers and long term effects... of heroin abuse.

Heroin Addiction & Tolerance

How addictive is it? Is addiction a myth? Do I have a problem? Signs and symptoms of heroin abuse and dependency.

With time, the heroin user builds up a tolerance for the drug and needs to use larger amounts to achieve the same effect. Some addicts must take heroin a number of times each day to avoid experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Learn more about heroin addiction... and the effects of long-term use. Or, find a treatment center specializing in heroin addiction rehabilitation.

Heroin Overdose Symptoms, Signs, and What to Do

What are the signs of an overdose? What to do if you spot symptoms of a heroin overdose.

Signs of heroin overdose include labored breathing, low blood pressure, and drowsiness. The person's skin may be cold to the touch and take on a bluish tinge. The victim may slip into a coma.

Calling your local emergency line if you or someone you are with is possibly experiencing an OD is highly recommended.Visit our drug emergencies resource page to get a list of US poison control centers and addiction resources. It is also recommended that you consider seeking treatment once the emergency is neutralized.

Mixing with Other Drugs

What are the effects of mixing heroin with alcohol, amphetamines, cannabis, ecstasy (MDMA), LSD, magic mushrooms, tobacco and other drugs?

Alcohol and heroin both suppress the central nervous system, and this combination can lead to an overdose. Using heroin with crack lessens the effects of the stimulant and makes it difficult for the user to gauge when they should stop using. Learn more about mixing... heroin and other substances.

Drug Tests and Detox

What are the detection times? How long does heroin stay in my system? Will I pass a heroin drug test?

Withdrawal symptoms can start within hours of the last use. The symptoms will peak within two or three days, and can last for up to a week. Heroin can be detected for up to four days after use in a urine test.

Heroin detox should be supervised by trained personnel for safety reasons. Learn more about heroin drug testing and how long it takes to detox... from heroin.

Legality, The Laws of Possession, Use, and Distribution

Is heroin illegal? I got caught with heroin, am I going to jail? How long are sentences for heroin dealers; what about just possession for recreational use? Is it a felony?

In the United States, it is illegal to buy, sell, possess, or manufacture heroin. Distributing heroin is also a crime. Under U.K. law, buying, selling, or possessing heroin is illegal as well. Learn more about the legal and criminal aspects... of the drug.

Spiritual or Medicinal Use

Can heroin be used for purposes other than recreational, like spiritual or medicinal?

Heroin is not prescribed for patients in the United States. In the U.K. it may be prescribed for patients who are in extreme pain, such as terminal cancer patients.

There are few documented "spiritual" or religious uses of heroin.

In the Media

Pop culture and heroin in the mainstream press.

Heroin being the highly addictive substance that it is, it is natural for it to get a lot of coverage in the press. Below are some examples of media attention heaped on the drug.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where does heroin come from? What does it do? What is 'chasing the dragon'?

A number of questions are commonly asked about heroin and its effects, its origins. From the ordinary and logical line of questions to the often bizarre, we present answers to questions... about this drug.

Sample questions posed by visitors to the site:

» What's the difference between brown and white heroin?

» Will I become addicted after one dose?

» Is heroin stronger than it used to be?

Related Site Links

» the gallery: opium ball

» the gallery: opium poppy

» the gallery: heroin powder

» the gallery: heroin powder 2

» articles: the big hurt: your bowels on heroin

» articles: heroin is harmless

» articles: the history of heroin

» articles: opium dreams

» articles: famous users: heroin

Offsite Links

» heroin@erowid.org massive resource

» make heroin legalargument for legalization by Nick Davies

Related News Stories

View Treatment Centers Find Local Treatment Centers Now Learn more now
» Interview with Alexanda Shulgin (New York Times, 1995)

 
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