1. What is heroin?

Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive opioid made from morphine. It comes in the form of a white or brown powder, or a black, sticky goo. Heroin can be smoked, injected or snorted.

2. How does heroin work/what does it do?

Heroin works by rapidly entering the brain and bonding to the receptors associated with our reward and pleasure center. It also connects with the receptors that regulate sleep, breathing and heart rate. Users report that the “high” of heroin feels like euphoria and/or numbness.

3. What makes heroin dangerous?

Heroin is highly addictive and can be deadly. It can cause a myriad of long and short-term health problems, including death. Heroin and other opioid deaths have increased significantly in recent years. Death from heroin overdose is usually caused by hypoxia, or a state of extremely shallow breathing, which doesn’t allow enough oxygen to reach the brain.

4. What are the symptoms of heroin use?

Short-term effects of heroin include a blush on the skin, dry mouth, pinpoint pupils, foggy thinking, and a heavy feeling in limbs. Long-term effects include liver damage, kidney problems, lung damage, collapsed veins, and infection of the heart lining or valves.

5. What do I do if I suspect someone has overdosed on heroin?

First, call 911 right away. Very slow breathing, blue lips and fingernails, coma, and convulsions are all signs of a heroin overdose. It is possible to reverse a heroin overdose with a drug called Naloxone.

Naloxone can be used as an injectable or as a nasal spray, and may need to be re-administered as frequently as every 20 minutes in order to fully reverse the overdose. Call 911 even if you have administered Naloxone, as medics can monitor the user and continue to administer Naloxone.

6. What are the heroin withdrawal symptoms?

Heroin withdrawal symptoms include aching pain in bones and muscles, insomnia or over-sleeping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and intense cravings for heroin.

7. How is heroin addiction treated?

Doctors can prescribe medication, such as Suboxone, to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. Rehabilitation, talk therapy and group meetings are all forms of heroin addiction treatment.