Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive drug that poses a serious problem. Heroin, the common name for diacetylmorphine, acts more quickly than other opiates. This rapid action makes heroin attractive to recreational users. In fact, heroin is the most abused drug in the opioid class. There are no legal uses for heroin. More Off-Label Uses for Heroin


Heroin is made from morphine, a naturally-occurring substance found in the seed pods of certain types of poppy plants. Heroin, in its purest form, is a white powder with a bitter taste. Illicit heroin is cut with other substances and usually appears as a white or brownish color. Sometimes heroin is made into a black, sticky substance known as "black tar." Heroin is usually injected but it can also be smoked and snorted. Smoking and snorting do not provide the euphoric rush as quickly or as intensely as injecting heroin but all three methods of administration can lead to dependence and addiction. Heroin is cut with other substances, such as sugar, starch, powdered milk or quinine, making exact dosages difficult to determine. Heroin can be cut with more dangerous substances like strychnine or other poisons. These factors increase the risk for serious complications including overdose, drug interactions, allergies and lethal side effects.

Read More About Heroin Administration and Dosage


Shortly after taking heroin, the user feels a surge of euphoria accompanied by a warm feeling. The user may also notice a dry mouth and heavy-feeling extremities. Heroin users experience alternating periods of wakeful and drowsy states. Depression of the central nervous system impairs cognitive functioning.

More About How Heroin Works


Stopping heroin use suddenly can have severe consequences, including intense and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Sudden cessation has occasionally caused death in heavy users who were in very poor health. More Warnings About Using Heroin

Side effects

Side effects include respiratory depression, constricted pupils and nausea. Heroin use is associated with serious health conditions, such as fatal overdose, spontaneous abortions, collapsed veins and infections of the lining of your heart and heart valves. Respiratory depression may lead to pneumonia. Sharing needles increases the spread of infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. Other side effects include:

  • Drowsiness.
  • Euphoria.
  • Disorientation.
  • Delirium.
  • Weak Pulse and Lowered Heart Rate.
  • Nausea and Vomiting.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Constipation.
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Confusion.
  • Rash and itching.
  • Physical and psychological dependence.

Learn More About Heroin Side Effects


Heroin overdose is a serious medical problem that needs prompt professional attention. If you suspect that you or someone you know has overdosed on heroin, contact your local emergency room immediately. Overdose symptoms include:

  • Slow and Shallow Breathing
  • Clammy Skin
  • Convulsions.
  • Coma.
  • Possible death.

Learn More About Heroin Overdose


There is a risk for developing a tolerance to heroin, which means you must take increasingly higher doses of heroin to feel the same effects. Chronic use of ever-increasing doses lead to dependence on heroin, where you experience the unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal if you do not continue taking heroin.

Read More About Heroin Abuse


Withdrawal from heroin is intense and usually requires medically-supervised detoxification. Regular users begin to experience withdrawal symptoms within a few hours of their last dose. Symptoms of withdrawal tend to peak in intensity between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose. These withdrawal symptoms begin to subside after about a week.

Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Drug Cravings.
  • Restlessness.
  • Muscle and Bone Pain.
  • Insomnia.
  • Vomiting and Diarrhea.
  • Cold Flashes with Goose Bumps.
  • Muscle Spasms and Kicking Movements.
  • Fever, Chills and Sweating.
  • Yawning.


Treatment options include detoxification, medication and behavioral therapy. Methadone, a synthetic opiate that blocks the effects of heroin for 24 hours, is a commonly prescribed treatment. However, methadone LAAM, another synthetic opiate, is effective for up to 72 hours. Naloxone and naltrexone are also effective at blocking the effects of heroin.

Rapid detox involves heavy sedation and anesthesia during the worst withdrawal symptoms. You awaken from sedation unaware of the unpleasant symptoms associated with heroin detoxification. Rapid detox is a humane way of cleansing heroin from your body.

Learn More About Heroin Detoxification Programs

Miscellaneous information

Heroin was first synthesized from morphine in 1874. It was marketed as a non-addictive cough suppressant and substitute for morphine until 1910. Physicians could prescribe heroin until 1924 when Congress moved to ban the sale, import or manufacturing of heroin in the United States. Most heroin consumed in the U.S. is

Miscellaneous Information About Heroin