Heroin Use Facts

Image of heroin with name spelled in it - heroin use factsHeroin use is widespread. Heroin is an illegal drug that comes from the “Opium Poppy” plant. Opium Poppy plants are grown in large quantities in some areas of the world but are regulated and controlled. They are also grown as ornamental flowering plants in some private and public gardens.

The two primary substances harvested from the Opium Poppy plant are opium and poppy seeds. The substance opium is used for its sedating and pain relieving effects. It is used as the base component of morphine, codeine and other opiate medications.

The illegal drug “heroin” is created from the medication morphine. Heroin use is more potent than morphine use and has a high potential for abuse and addiction. When referring to heroin in a legal and medicinal sense, it is called “diamorphine”.

Poppy seeds extracted from the poppy plant are relatively harmless and so are used in foods and oils. 

Routes of Heroin Use

  • Swallowing heroin in any form does not produce as intense pleasurable effects, so it is not a common form of ingestion.
  • Smoking or inhaling heroin is accomplished using glass pipes, light bulbs, foil and other materials. The drug is heated up until a vapor develops. The vapor is then inhaled.
  • Snorting is often used to save time or the hassle of preparing the drug for other routes of ingestion.
  • “Plugging” refers to ingesting heroin in suppository form, an uncommon route of ingestion.
  • Injecting or “shooting up” heroin is the preferred route of ingestion because it produces the greatest, immediate rush. Heroin use through injection carries with it a high risk of health complications and diseases that come from a variety of viruses and bacteria. When users share equipment with other users, infectious agents can be spread among them.

Effects of Heroin Use

Heroin use causes intense relaxation, euphoric or transcendent experiences and a care-free attitude. When ingested via a route that allows a large amount of the drug to enter the body all at once, such as injection, an intense “rush” is experienced. As a recreational drug, heroin is more popular than its mother-drug morphine which is also used recreationally by some users.

Pure heroin itself does not appear to cause short-term health problems other than constipation. But when contaminated with other substances (which is almost the case with street heroin) or when used long-term, heroin usage will lead to health problems and the very serious problem of addiction. Some complications and effects of heroin use include:

  • Abuse and addiction
  • Contracting viruses such as HIV and hepatitis.
  • Contracting bacteria or fungi that lead to many health complications such as abscesses, yeast infections, botulism and staph infections.
  • Development of pneumonia, heart conditions, vein disorders and damage, decreased liver and kidney functioning and arthritis.
  • Poisoning from the substances that are frequently mixed with heroin.

Clinical and professional detox as well as treatment for heroin addiction are the best routes to take if you or a loved one are suffering.