Also Called: 
horse, hammer, H, dope, smack, junk, gear, boy

What is Heroin?

Heroin is a drug made from opium poppies. Opium has been around for hundreds of years and was used in the past to treat pain and sleeplessness. Nowadays, it comes mainly from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mexico and Colombia. 

Pure heroin is a white powder, but street heroin can be anything from brownish white to brown, because of the substances it is cut with. It can be smoked, snorted or dissolved in water and injected, depending on its form.

Heroin is a depressive, so it makes you feel relaxed and comfortable. The “comedown” for heroin is long and hard, which makes it so very addictive. Partly because it is injected and partly because it is so strong, there are serious risks of overdose. This is a very dangerous drug with serious consequences for using. 

Effects of Heroin

When you first take heroin, you may feel a strong rush of pleasure for about a minute. Some users become dizzy and often vomit right after taking it. If you have any pain, it will disappear.

After that, users report feeling like they are wrapped in a warm blanket for several hours. Small doses give you a feeling of warmth and well-being, while bigger doses can make you sleepy and very relaxed. Heroin slows down your brain activity. Your breathing can slow down or stop completely which could cause you to die. Your temperature will drop and you might find your heartbeat speeding up or slowing down at random.

The longer you have been on heroin, the harder the “comedown” will be. Like most drugs, all those good feelings you had while on heroin will be reversed and magnified.

You’ll start feeling it about six to twelve hours after your last use. You’ll likely feel depressed, annoyed and anxious. You may also feel achy and sensitive to pain. There’s a good chance you’ll have diarrhea, nausea, fever, and stomach pain. You might not be able to sleep.

It’ll be at its worst 1 to 3 days after, and then it will start to ease off after about a week. For some users, it can last longer—weeks or months with a syndrome called Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). During these periods, you’ll have really strong cravings to use again, partly to feel the high and partly to get away from the “withdrawal.” After taking it for a while, you’ll find that your tolerance will build up, and you’ll need more and more to get the same high or just to feel stable. 

Problems Using Heroin

Heroin overdoses are common and often lead to coma or death. Even long-term addicts die of overdoses. If you have been taking heroin for a while, and then stop, your tolerance drops. When you go back to it, you might try to take the amount that you took before, which will then lead to an overdose. Also, taking heroin with other downers, like alcohol, can cause an overdose. If you see someone with clammy or bluish skin, slowed breathing or if they are unconscious, they may be having an overdose.

Because heroin relaxes you so much, once you are high, you may not be able to cough properly which means you could accidently choke to death on your own vomit. Also, heroin is often cut with unknown substances, like strychnine (a toxic pesticide) or chalk. These can be poisons or block your blood vessels.


If you inject heroin, you run the risk of catching or spreading a virus, such as HIV or hepatitis. You may also do damage to your veins, get infected blisters, get blood clots, or parts of your body might start to rot away (gangrene).

After using heroin for a long time, you might find that your moods get unstable. You may also find yourself constipated or you may lose your sex drive completely. Heroin is highly addictive and people can quickly get hooked. After taking it for a while, you’ll find that your tolerance will build up, and you’ll need more and more to get the same high or just to feel stable.

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