Heroin is a white or brown powder or a black, sticky goo. It's made from morphine, a natural substance in the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant. It can be mixed with water and injected with a needle. Heroin can also be smoked or snorted up the nose. All of these ways of taking heroin send it to the brain very quickly. This makes it very addictive.
Major health problems from heroin include miscarriages, heart infections, and death from overdose. People who inject the drug also risk getting infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
Regular use of heroin can lead to tolerance. This means users need more and more drug to have the same effect. At higher doses over time, the body becomes dependent on heroin. If dependent users stop heroin, they have withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, diarrhea and vomiting, and cold flashes with goose bumps.
NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse
- Heroin Use Surges Among Whites Who Abuse Prescription Painkillers (04/30/2015, HealthDay)
- Heroin Use Levels Off in U.S., but Still High: Report (04/23/2015, HealthDay)
- Heroin Overdose Deaths Quadrupled Since 2000 (03/04/2015, HealthDay)
- Signs of Heroin Abuse and Addiction (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
- Facts about Buprenorphine for Treatment of Opioid Addiction (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) - PDF
- Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction (National Institute on Drug Abuse) Available in Spanish
- What Is Substance Abuse Treatment? A Booklet for Families (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) - PDF
Pictures & Photographs
- Heroin Photos (Drug Enforcement Administration)
- Heroin (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
Journal ArticlesReferences and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Normalizing effect of heroin maintenance treatment on stress-induced brain connectivity.
- Article: Heroin substitute treatment should not be time limited, says report...
- Article: Psychometric evaluation, using Rasch analysis, of the WHOQOL-BREF in heroin-dependent...
- Heroin -- see more articles
- Abuse of Prescription Pain Medications Risks Heroin Use (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
- Characteristics of Adolescent Heroin Admissions (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
- Heroin - Changes In How It Is Used: 1995-2005 (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
- Nonmedical Use of Prescription Pain Relievers May Raise the Risk of Turning to Heroin Use (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
- What You Need to Know About Drugs: Heroin (Nemours Foundation)