Aka: Smack, gear, H, skag, junk, brown, horse, china white.
Official name: Diamorphine
What is it?
Heroin is a powerful and very addictive drug. It is a pain-killing drug made from morphine, which is derived from the opium poppy. Street heroin is usually a brown/white powder, smells acidic and is usually mixed with other substances.
It is smoked, sniffed, or dissolved in water and injected under the skin (skin-popping) and into the vein (main lining). Heroin produces little effect if taken by mouth.
- Effects of heroin last for two to three hours.
- The initial rush is followed by a pleasant, dreamlike state of peacefulness and contentment; pain is reduced, as are aggressive tendencies and sexual drive (horniness).
- First time use (especially if injected) often causes nausea, vomiting and severe headaches.
Dangers of heroin:
- Heroin is a very addictive drug: experimenting with heroin means risking becoming addicted.
- Larger doses of heroin can lead to drowsiness and excessive doses can result in overdose and coma. It can also be fatal.
- Sharing needles when injecting heroin leaves users at risk of infection, e.g. Hepatitis B and HIV from contaminated needles, syringes and other injection equipment with other users.
- It is also difficult to withdraw from this drug. Users trying to kick the habit may experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal begins between 8 and 24 hours after the last "fix" of heroin.
- Symptoms are aches, tremors, sweating, chills, anxiety, irritability, loss of appetite, muscular spasms, yawning and sneezing, hot and cold sweats and cramps. This is known as "Cold Turkey".
- Heroin can lead to mental health problems. Addiction can often lead to depression and suicide.
Heroin is controlled by the Misuse of Drugs Act. It is illegal to possess it unless prescribed by a doctor and supplied by a pharmacist. It is an offence to import, distribute, produce or sell it.
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