Heroin is usually injected, snorted or smoked. It is highly addictive. Heroin enters the brain rapidly but makes people think and react slowly, impairing their decision-making ability. It causes difficulty in remembering things.

Injecting the drug can create a risk of AIDS, hepatitis (liver disease) and other diseases caused by infected needles. These health problems can be passed on to sexual partners and newborns. Heroin is one of the three drugs most frequently involved in drug abuse deaths. Violence and crime are linked to its use.

The initial effects of heroin include a surge of sensation, a “rush” This is often accompanied by a warm feeling of the skin and a dry mouth. Sometimes the initial reaction can include vomiting or severe itching. After these initial effects fade, the user becomes drowsy for several hours. The basic body functions such as breathing and heartbeat slow down. Within hours after the drug effects have decreased, the addict’s body craves more. Withdrawal includes the extreme physical and mental symptoms which are experienced if the body is not supplied with the next dose of heroin. The intense high a user seeks lasts only a few minutes. With continued use, he/she needs increasing amounts of the drug just to feel “normal”

Heroin is highly addictive and withdrawal extremely painful. The drug quickly breaks down the immune system, finally leaving one sickly, extremely thin and bony and ultimately dead.

Short-term Effects:

  • Abusers experience clouded mental functioning, nausea and vomiting
  • Awareness of pain may be suppressed
  • Pregnant women can suffer spontaneous abortion
  • Cardiac (heart) functions slow down and breathing is severely slowed, sometimes to the point of death
  • Clouded mental functioning
  • Sedation, drowsiness
  • Hypothermia – body temperature lower than normal
  • Coma or death due to overdose


Long-term Effects:

  • Scarred and/or collapsed veins,
  • Bacterial infections of the blood vessels, heart valves, abscesses and other soft-tissue infections,
  • Liver or kidney disease.
  • Lung complications may result.
  • Sharing of needles or fluids may result in hepatitis, AIDS and other blood-borne virus diseases
  • Bad Teeth
  • Inflammation of the gums
  • Cold sweats
  • Itching
  • Weakening of the immune system
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Muscular weakness, partial paralysis
  • Reduced sexual capacity and long term impotence in men
  • Menstrual disturbance in women
  • Inability to achieve orgasm
  • Loss of memory and intellectual performance
  • Introversion
  • Depression
  • Pustules on face
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
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