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Heroin Facts

Heroin Facts: Heroin is a synthetic derivative of morphine. Its scientific name is diacetyl morphine . it is morphine plus two acetyl groups. This makes it easier to cross the blood-brain barrier into the brain, where, after being changed back into morphine, it acts by attaching itself to special receptors in the brain called opioid receptors. There are large numbers of these receptors in certain areas of the brain such as the limbic system, which is responsible for feelings of happiness, relaxation, fearlessness and tolerance to pain. When the receptors are flooded with morphine, the user experiences a sensation of pain-free euphoria and relaxation.

Heroin Facts: Pure heroin is a white (sometimes pink or beige), odorless powder with a bitter taste.

Heroin Facts: Heroin can be smoked, snorted, or less commonly, inhaled (which involves heating rock or powdered heroin on aluminum foil and inhaling the fumes, referred to as 'chasing the dragon'). But the most effective way of getting it into the bloodstream without losing some along the way is to inject it, most users (about two thirds) inject heroin.

Heroin Facts: Babies whose mothers are dependent on heroin have more medical problems compared to other babies. Heroin can cross the placenta and an unborn baby can become dependent on the drug if the mother is a regular user.

Heroin Facts: Babies of heroin-dependent mothers can suffer withdrawal symptoms after they are born. They are often born premature and under-developed and suffer from breathing problems and infections in the first few weeks of life. If their mother is HIV positive, they may also be born HIV positive. However, suddenly stopping heroin use during a pregnancy can precipitate miscarriage or premature labor.

Heroin Facts: Mothers who take heroin while their baby is in utero can increase a newborns. risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) significantly.

Heroin Facts: Chronic heroin use can lead to medical consequences such as scarred and/or collapsed veins, bacterial infections of the blood vessels and heart valves, abscesses and other soft-tissue infections, and liver or kidney disease.

Heroin Facts: Poor health conditions and depressed respiration from heroin use can cause lung complications, including various types of pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Heroin Facts: Addiction is the most detrimental long-term effect of heroin use because it is a chronic, relapsing problem characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, as well as neurochemical and molecular changes in the brain.

Heroin Facts: Long-term effects of heroin use also can include arthritis and other rheumatologic problems and infection of bloodborne pathogens such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C (which are contracted by sharing and reusing syringes and other injection paraphernalia). It is estimated that injection drug use has been a factor in one third of all HIV and more than half of all hepatitis C cases in the United States.

Heroin Facts: Street heroin is often cut with substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk, strychnine and other poisons, and other drugs. These additives may not dissolve when injected in a user.s system and can clog the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain, infecting or killing patches of cells in vital organs.

Heroin Facts: Many users do not know their heroin.s actual strength or its true contents and are at an elevated risk of overdose or death.

Heroin Facts: The short-term effects of heroin abuse appear soon after taking the drug.

Heroin Facts: Intravenous injection provides the greatest intensity and most rapid onset of the initial rush that users experience.

Heroin Facts: Intravenous users typically experience the rush within 7 to 8 seconds after injection, while intramuscular injection produces a slower onset of this euphoric feeling, taking 5 to 8 minutes. When heroin is sniffed or smoked, the peak effects of the drug are usually felt within 10 to 15 minutes.

Heroin Facts: In addition to the initial feeling of euphoria, the short-term effects of heroin include a warm flushing of the skin, dry mouth, and heavy extremities. After the initial euphoric feeling, the user experiences an alternately wakeful and drowsy state. Due to the depression of the central nervous system, mental functioning becomes clouded. Additionally, breathing may be slowed to the point of respiratory failure.

Heroin Facts: Within a few hours after the last administration of heroin, withdrawal may occur. This withdrawal can produce effects such as drug craving, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, and vomiting. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose and subside after about a week.

Heroin Facts: Typically, a heroin abuser may inject up to four times a day.

Heroin Facts: Smoking and sniffing heroin do not produce a "rush" as quickly or as intensely as intravenous injection, NIDA researchers have confirmed that all three forms of heroin administration are addictive.

Heroin Facts: Over 80% of heroin users inject with a partner, yet 80% of overdose victims found by paramedics are found alone.

Heroin Facts: Heroin accounts for the majority of the illicit opiate abuse in America.

Heroin Facts: According to the National Household Survey for 1994, 2.2 million Americans have tried heroin; 191,000 had used it in the previous 30 days.

Heroin Facts: The variability in quality of street heroin can range from 0-90%, which greatly increases the risk of accidental overdose and death.

Heroin Facts: Heroin's potent pain-relieving properties may actually conceal symptoms of real physical illness or disease such as pneumonia and delay treatment.

Heroin Facts: Recent studies suggest a shift from injecting to snorting or smoking heroin because of increased purity and the misconception that these forms of use will not lead to addiction.

Heroin Facts: Heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed-pod of the Asian poppy plant.

Heroin Facts: Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder.

Heroin Facts: Street names associated with heroin include "smack," "H," "skag," and "junk." Other names may refer to types of heroin produced in a specific geographical area, such as "Mexican black tar."

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