What is it?
An opiate is a drug derived from the opium plant. The main opiates
are morphine, codeine, and heroin. Opiates are also referred to as
narcotics. Narcotic addicts, when faced with shortages in their
supply, often substitute various narcotic drugs for others. Heroin
is the most widely-abused illicit narcotic in the U.S.
Smack, Morphine, courage pills, brown sugar, black tar, H, junk,
horse, gunpowder, hard candy, bomb, chiva, mud, noise, dope,
skag, China White.
Being under the influence of heroin is referred to as being “on the
How is it used?
Heroin can be injected intravenously, intramuscularly, or just
beneath the skin (subcutaneously). It may also be snorted or
Sign of usage:
The user displays droopy eyelids, constricted pupils, and sluggish,
delayed speech and mannerisms. The opiate user will appear very
drowsy and have difficulty with mental functioning and attention
span. If the user administers the drug with an injection, there
will be needle marks and possible signs of infection at injection
Effects of usage:
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 experiences a feeling of euphoria (“rush”) accompanied by
a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth, and heavy
How long do the effects last?
Heroin’s effects appear almost immediately after its use if
injected intravenously and last for several hours. If injected
intramuscularly, a rush will be produced within five to eight
minutes, and the effects of sniffing can be felt within ten to
Effects of withdrawal:
Withdrawal, which in regular abusers may occur as early as a few
hours after the last dose, produces drug craving, restlessness,
muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes
with goose bumps, and kicking movements. Major withdrawal symptoms
peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose and subside after
about a week.
Heroin purity varies greatly, a fact that makes heroin use that
much more dangerous. Too much pure heroin can result in respiratory
arrest and death. For those users with already compromised physical
health, respiratory complications can result due to the drug’s
depressing effects on respiration.
Effects of prolonged usage:
Chronic users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart
lining and valves, abscesses, cellulitis, and liver disease.
Usage by youth:
Among students heroin use is low when compared with other drugs of
abuse. Current reported use of heroin is less than 1% by high
school students. The average age for the first time heroin user is
With the advent of HIV and Hepatitis preferred administration of
heroin has changed from injection to snorting and smoking.
Squirting or dripping heroin that has been dissolved in water up
the nose from a small plastic bottle is called shebanging and is
gaining in popularity. Combining heroin with other illicit drugs
such as cocaine and ecstasy in capsules has also increased
accessibility of the drug and a new nightclub crowd of users.
*Information provided by Dr. Barbara
A. Krantz, Chief Medical Officer at the Hanley Center
*First Check Diagnostics Corp. is offering these resources for
informational purposes only, and the Hanley Center is no way
affiliated with any of the entities that provide the