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Heroin is an extremely potent and highly addictive central nervous system depressant that comes from the opium poppy. Heroin can be found on the street where purity and potency varies. This white or brown substance chemically derived from Morphine, may also come in a black and sticky form, most commonly called “black tar heroin.”
Heroin can be snorted, smoked, or injected intravenously. When heroin is injected into the vein, the process is called “mainlining.” This is the most dangerous method for abusing the drug.
The short and long term effects of heroin combined with the number of reported over-dose related deaths makes heroin one of the most dangerous illegal abused drugs in society today. Short term effects of using heroin may only last a few hours, but the overwhelming euphoric effect is highly addicting. After a heroin addict gets their “fix” they will experience a very intense rush or blissful feeling of apathy. Following this very numb feeling the heroin addict goes into a state of mind called “the nod,” where the body feels heavy and they go in and out of consciousness. In this stage, heroin addicts drift in and out of reality with no recollection of what’s going on around them.
The major long term effects associated with heroin addiction are that of developing a high tolerance and physical dependence. Once addicted a heroin addict experiences very intense withdrawal symptoms, as well as psychological cravings for the drug. As a heroin addict’s tolerance builds, more of the drug is needed to produce the initial effect. Taking too much or combining heroin with other pharmaceuticals, like benzodiazepines, can result in death. When heroin addicts become physically dependent, they will then experience severe withdrawal symptoms with the absence of the drug. Some of the most dangerous side effects associated with heroin addiction include: