It is used both as a pain killer as well as a recreational drug. Some of its popular street names are – junk, dope Jenny, brown, diesel, smack, gear, dragon, hammer and ice-cubes.
Heroin is a whitish brown powder or sometimes a sticky black substance called “black tar heroin”. It is usually injected, sniffed, snorted or smoked. An intravenous injection takes a very short time of 5 to 7 seconds for the drug to enter a person’s brain. It immediately metabolizes and gives the person a flush of “euphoria” (light headedness). The other methods take a longer time.
Just like all other opiates, Heroin too is capable of creating high tolerance thresholds in the body. The great risk of heroin addiction is that the user can build a tolerance of the drug 3 to 4 times more than the lethal limit of a normal person. These high thresholds make heroin detoxification all the more painful and difficult for the heroin addict.
Heroin withdrawal is not only painful but also frightening. The withdrawal phase lasts anywhere between 48 to 72 hours since the last dose of heroin intake. The withdrawal symptoms include – dilated pupils, Muscle cramps, Nausea and vomiting, periodic chills, panic spells, goose bumps, diarrhea, malaise, fever and profuse sweating..
Addicts who have undergone these withdrawal symptoms describe their experience by saying –“it was the worse case of the flu” they had ever had. An addict has alternate wakeful and drowsy spells with clouded mental functioning. An overdose may sometimes lead to death and using the needle used by an infected person could result in HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis. Death could also be the end result if the addict has a high tolerance of heroin withdrawal. Some addicts complain of a stressful condition called “itchy blood” which results in compulsive scratching causing bruises on the body.
An overdose of heroin is usually counter acted