What is it?
Heroin is one of a group of drugs that come from the opium
poppy. This group includes morphine and codeine, but heroin
is the strongest. It is the most effective painkiller
doctors have, being used to treat severe pain in patients
suffering from terminal diseases.
What does it look like?
In it's purest form, heroin is a white powder, but street
heroin is brownish in colour. It's usually sold in small
paper packets, often known as wraps.
What are the effects?
Heroin relieves physical pain by creating a sense of euphoria
in which things don't seem to matter. On using the drug,
you feel warm, as if wrapped in cotton wool, and drowsy.
If you are not used to the drug, it is common to be sick.
Your skin can feel itchy, and you may nod off and wake
several times. Some people become livelier.
What are the risks?
Most of the health risks with heroin are to do with the
content of street drugs and injecting. You may not know
just how pure the drug is, making it easier to overdose.
It may also be contaminated with other powders that could
cause problems if injected. And remember that once you
inject you run the risk of HIV and Hep C.
Is it addictive?
Yes. It is either smoked or injected or snorted.
It will just depend on how much you use. The more you
use the quicker it happens. Physical addiction is not
something that happens over night and most people experience
a desire to take the drug again, but are not addicted.
What is an overdose and what should you do?
Overdose can happen when you take too much, or you haven't
done it in a while. This can also occur when the heroin
is purer than usual. Some signs of overdose are extreme
drowsiness that eventually leads to coma, shallow breathing
and cold clammy skin. If an overdose is suspected, then
put the person in the recovery position (on their right
side with their left knee bent) and call an ambulance
immediately. In hospital, they have a drug that reverses
the effects of heroin.
Is it dangerous to stop?
If you have been using heroin regularly the physical
symptoms of stopping suddenly include hot and cold sweats
and muscle cramps, sleepiness, runny nose and vomiting.
It can be compared to a heavy dose of flu, and although
unpleasant, it is rarely dangerous. Symptoms are usually
at their worst after 3 days but after a week, most of
the physical symptoms will have passed.
Illegal and if you are buying for a friend, you could
be done on intent to supply.