Medical Issues

January 7, 2010

Heroin: The Basics

Heroin is a highly addictive drug that is from the opium poppy.  It is a depressant (also known as a “downer”) that influences the pleasure system of the brain and stops the perception of pain.  Heroin is a powder or tarish substance that can range in color from white to dark brown.  Heroin can be used in an array of ways that include injected intravenously or intramuscular, smoked, or snorted.  The short term effects of heroin occur soon after it is abused and then disappear after a few hours.  These effects include a rush of euphoria that comes with a warm flushing of the skin, heavy extremities, and dryness of the mouth.  After this initial burst of euphoria, the abuser goes through a series of alternating states of wakefulness and drowsiness.  Since the central nervous system is depressed, mental functioning is reduced.  Additionally, speech may become slowed or slurred, pupil dilation, droopy eyelids, vomiting, and constipation are common short term effects.  Heroin’s long term effects appear after repeated use; chronic abusers can develop infection of the heart lining and valves, collapsed veins, abscesses, and liver disease.  Pulmonary effects can result in poor health of the abuser due to heroins depressing effects on the respiratory system.  Due to additives in the drug, blogging of blood vessels can also occur.  This causes reduce blood flow and can cause infection or death of small areas of cells in vital organs.  These are the basic facts about heroin, and the effects that are commonly seen in abusers of this drug.

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