HEROIN: Scientific name - Diamorphine, Diacetylmorphine

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The effects of Heroin

The intended medical use of Heroin, which is made from the dried milk of the opium poppy, is as a pain-killing drug. 

A small dose of heroin gives the user a feeling of warmth and well-being; bigger doses can make you sleepy and very relaxed. The first dose of heroin can bring about dizziness and vomiting. 

Heroin is highly addictive and people can quickly get hooked. It slows the brain, heart rate and breathing, limits sensitivity and emotional reaction to pain, discomfort and anxiety. 

Heroin and the law 

Heroin is a class ‘A’ drug, so it’s illegal to have for yourself, give away or sell. Possession is illegal and can get you up to seven years in jail and/or an unlimited fine. 

Supplying someone else, even your friends, can get you up to life imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. If the Police catch you with heroin, they’ll always take some action. This could include a formal caution, arrest and prosecution. 

A conviction for a drug-related offence could have a serious impact. It can stop you visiting certain countries – for example the United States – and limit the types of jobs you can apply for. 

Like drinking and driving, driving when high is illegal - and you can still be unfit to drive the day after using heroin. You can get a heavy fine, be disqualified from driving or even go to prison. 

Allowing other people to use drugs in your house or any other premises is illegal. If the police catch someone using drugs in a club they can prosecute the landlord, club owner or person holding the party. 

 The risks of taking Heroin

 The paraphernalia typically involved with Heroin includes Needles, syringes, spoon, lighter and candle

Injecting heroin and sharing injecting equipment can be very risky, as it runs the risk of the injector catching or spreading a virus, such as HIV or hepatitis C. There is also the risk that veins may be damaged and that an abscess or blood clot may develop.

There is a real risk of drug overdose, possibly leading to a coma or death, particularly when mixed with other drugs.

Heroin is highly addictive and larger and more frequent doses may be needed to feel ‘normal’. 

Overdoses can lead to coma and even death – as it can cause respiratory failure (this is what it’s called when your breathing stops).

If you have been taking heroin regularly you may have built some tolerance, but if you then stop heroin for just for a few days, your tolerance will rapidly drop – and you risk an overdose if you simply take the high dose you previously took.

If heroin is taken with other drugs, including alcohol, an overdose is more likely. Other downers (such as benzodiazepine tranquillisers or methadone), are also linked with deaths from heroin overdose.

There's also a risk of death due to inhaling vomit – because heroin both sedates you and stops you coughing properly – and the vomit remains in the airways so you can’t breathe.

Injecting heroin can do nasty damage to your veins and arteries, and has been known to lead to gangrene (death of body tissue, usually a finger, toe or a limb) and to infections.

The risks of sharing needles, syringes and other equipment involved in injecting are well-known – it puts you, and others, in danger of serious infections like hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS.