Heroin is a highly addictive substance that blocks the brain’s ability to perceive pain.

Heroin (also known as H, smack, black tar and chiba) is an opiate classified as a schedule 1 drug. The type of heroin depends on which country it comes from and it’s appearance can vary from a white powdery substance to black tar. Heroin can be smoked, snorted or injected and produces a high that many people associate with euphoria. Heroin use creates a twilight type state that includes drowsiness, intense itching, happiness, confidence, warm feelings, and inhibited senses.

According to a 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 3.8 million people have tried heroin at least once in their lifetime in the United States alone. 366,000 people used it within the last year of the survey and over 100,000 of the 366,000 were trying it for the first time. These numbers imply the devastating reality that heroin use is rapidly rising. Despite being an incredibly addictive and dangerous drug, heroin is still very popular for addicts and casual users alike. Over recent years it appears that many people are beginning opiate use with pharmaceutical painkillers. Pharmaceutical painkillers have similar properties and effects as heroin, but because they are more expensive and difficult to obtain, many people turn to using heroin instead.

There are a number of immediate observable effects of heroin use. Although these symptoms alone are not necessarily unique to heroin abuse, together, they may be indicative of it:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry mouth
  • Constricted pupils
  • Sudden changes in behavior or actions
  • Disorientation
  • Cycles of hyper alertness followed by suddenly nodding off
  • Droopy appearance, as if extremities are heavy

More definitive warning signs of heroin use include possession of paraphernalia used to prepare, inject or otherwise use heroin:

  • Needles or syringes not used for other medical purposes
  • Burned silver spoons
  • Aluminum foil or gum wrappers with burn marks
  • Missing shoelaces (used as a tie off for injection sites)
  • Straws with burn marks
  • Small plastic bags, with white powdery residue
  • Water pipes or other pipe

Frequently Asked Questions about Heroin: