06/29/14 — Heroin: What is it?

View Archive

Heroin: What is it?

By John Joyce
Published in News on June 29, 2014 3:59 PM

According to the Partnership at Drugfree.org, heroin is a highly addictive depressant derived from the morphine obtained from the opium poppy.

Heroin comes in both powder and tar form. The powder can range in color from white to brown; the tar is usually black.

A user might inject heroin through a vein, mainlining, or into a muscle. It can also be smoked, snorted or mixed into a marijuana cigarette called a joint, or a marijuana cigar known as a blunt.

The drug is a “downer,” affecting the brain’s pleasure system and interfering with the brain’s ability to perceive pain.

The heroin high is described as a euphoric state accompanied by heavy limbs and a warm sensation that washes over the skin. The high lasts several hours and is followed by a period of alternating wakeful and drowsy states.

Long-term use will result in the high becoming more difficult to obtain and to sustain, requiring more frequent use and higher dosages of the drug.

As their use increases, the addict’s health will decline. The addict will suffer collapsed veins, infections of the heart lining and valves, even liver disease.

Withdrawal symptoms occur when a user, now dependent on the drug, goes too long without using. These symptoms can include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, clod flashes and other symptoms. The withdrawal period usually peak within 48 to 72 hours, and can last about a week.

Sudden withdrawal can be fatal.