Heroin is a highly addictive drug derived from morphine, which is obtained from the opium poppy plant. It is a "downer" or depressant that affects the brain's pleasure systems and interferes with the brain's ability to perceive pain. Street names or slang terms for herion include: Big H, Blacktar, Brown sugar, Dope, Horse, Junk, Mud, Skag, Smack.




Herion is a white to dark brown powder or tar-like substance.  It can be used in a variety of ways, depending on user preference and the purity of the drug. Heroin can be injected into a vein (mainlining), injected into a muscle, smoked in a water pipe or standard pipe, mixed in a marijuana joint or regular cigarette, inhaled as smoke through a straw - known as "chasing the dragon," or snorted as powder via the nose.




The short-term effects of heroin abuse appear soon after a single dose and disappear in a few hours.  After an injection of heroin, the user reports feeling a surge of euphoria accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth, and heavy extremities (arms and legs). Following this initial euphoria, the user goes "on the nod," -an alternately wakeful and drowsy state. Mental functioning becomes clouded due to the depression of the central nervous system. Other effects include slowed and slurred speech, slow gait, constricted (pin point) pupils, droopy eyelids, impaired night vision, vomiting, and constipation.



Long-term effects of heroin appear after repeated use for some period of time. Chronic users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses (pus-filled cavities), cellulites (inflammation or infection beneath the skin), and liver disease. Pulmonary (lung) complications, including various types of pneumonia, may result from the poor health condition of the abuser, as well as from heroin's depressing effects on respiration (breathing).

In addition to the effects of the drug itself, street heroin may have additives that do not dissolve and result in clogging the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain. This can cause the infection or even death of small patches of cells in vital organs.

As with any other drug, with regular heroin use, tolerance develops. This means the abuser must use more heroin to achieve the same intensity or effect. As higher doses are used over time, physical dependence and addiction develop. With physical dependence, the body has adapted to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms may occur if use is reduced or stopped.

Withdrawal symptoms may occur as early as a few hours after last use, and may include: drug craving, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps ("cold turkey"), kicking movements ("kicking the habit"), and other symptoms. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose and subside after about a week. Sudden withdrawal by heavily dependent users who are in poor health can be fatal.


A variety of effective treatments are available for heroin addiction. Treatment tends to be more effective when heroin abuse is identified early. Methadone, a synthetic opiate that blocks the effects of heroin and eliminates withdrawal symptoms, has a proven record of success for people addicted to heroin. Other pharmaceutical approaches, such as buprenorphine, and many behavioral therapies also are used for treating heroin addiction.






  1. What plant is heroin derived from?

a)    Juniper

b)    Poppy

c)     Sage

d)    Dandelion


  1. True or False:  Heroin is a stimulant. (If false, please list the correct answer)


  1. True or False:  Heroin interferes with the brain's ability to perceive pain. (If false, please list the correct answer)


  1. What are five short terms effect of heroin use?


  1. What is going on the nod?


  1. Fill in the Blanks: Mental functioning becomes __________due to the __________of the central ________system.


  1. What are five long-term effects of heroin use?


  1. True or False:  It is not possible to develop a tolerance to the effects of heroin. (If false, please list the correct answer)


  1. What are five withdrawal symptoms?


  1. Fill in the Blank: Major withdrawal symptoms peak between _________hours after the last dose.


  1. Which of the following is not an effective treatment for heroin addiction?

a)    Chamomile extract

b)    Methadone

c)     Behavioral therapies

d)    Buprenorphine