Heroin is a processed form of morphine which produces a calming effect, reducing pain and giving users a rush within a few seconds of using it. Small doses give a general sense of well being and larger ones cause extreme relaxation. Most of the time heroin is injected but it can also be snorted, inhaled or smoked or swallowed.
Some common slang names for heroin include skunk, smack, scag, big H, gear, brown crystal and black tar. It is much more addictive than morphine and causes a rapid physical as well as psychological dependence. Tolerance also tends to build quickly, so users have to take larger amounts for the same effects, making overdosing an ever-increasing risk. Withdrawal and post effect “crashes” are very uncomfortable which also drives increased usage frequency and dosage.
Injected heroin is often done in poor conditions or using shared needles (which brings its own risks in terms of HIV, hepatitis and blood poisoning) and damages veins quite severely, even causing gangrene. Heroin inhibits normal cough reflexes which can mean that users die by inhaling their own vomit. Overdose causes a coma and normally leads to death.
Symptoms of Heroin Addiction
Do you know someone who is worrying you by exhibiting a possible addiction to heroin? Try asking yourself the following questions.
- Are there “track marks” from injection sites on their arms or other parts of their body?
- Do they exhibit constricted pupils, a runny nose or consistently shallow breathing?
- Are they showing signs of speech problems, slower reactions and loss of memory?
- Have they become apathetic and uncaring about hobbies, jobs and relationships, and started neglecting hygiene or other essentials?